Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe
Architecture is raised above a forest

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A series of pillars raise the interconnected rooms of this house by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture above the tree tops of the surrounding Costa Rican forest (+ slideshow).

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

The San Jose office of Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture was asked to design the family home for a steeply sloping site, and chose to lift the building off the ground to optimise views of the Pacific Ocean.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Unlike nearby properties, the architects also wanted to avoid cutting into the landscape to create a flat piece of land on which to build.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

"We essentially lifted the house up into the air on a series of piloti which gives the impression that it is floating above the hillside," explained the architects. "By doing this we saved the immense cost of creating soil retention walls around the site."

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

As well as making the most of views from the upper portion of the site, raising the building above the forest floor reduces its impact on the surrounding undergrowth.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

"This common sense solution allowed us to create a very delicate intervention, one that allows the terrain to breathe whilst providing spectacular views out towards the ocean from the key location on the site," the architects added.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

The three cabins that make up the residence are arranged in a staggered formation to maintain sight lines towards the ocean from each room and from a linking corridor at the rear of the property.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Vertical shafts of bamboo lining the corridor allow a pattern of light and shadow to filter through onto the wooden decking.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Short bridges connect the circulation corridor to each of the rooms and to a terrace that zig-zags along the front of the property.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Large projecting roofs supported by a metal framework shelter the terrace from the sun.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Wooden shutters separating the rooms from the terrace can be folded back to open the spaces up to the outdoors and allow the breeze to ventilate the interiors.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

The use of wood throughout the building helps to tie it in with its surroundings, while a bathroom facing the hillside and an outdoor bamboo shower bring the occupants closer to nature.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Photography is by Andres Garcia Lachner.

The architects sent us the following project description:


Casa Flotanta

The Gooden-Nahome family wanted to create a home on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and they found an incredible site overlooking the ocean.

The biggest challenge we encountered was that their plot of land was predominantly comprised of a very steep slope, and the view of the ocean could only be seen from the upper-mid portion of the site. We saw this as an opportunity rather than a constraint and immediately considered an architectural response that was appropriate for these conditions.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Originally, we explored possibilities of creating large retaining walls and cutting back the soil in order to place the house, a technique typically employed for nearby buildings.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Ultimately, we decided to do the exact opposite and therefore allow the slope, the earth, the vegetation, water, and animals to flow underneath the house. We essentially lifted the house up into the air on a series of piloti which gives the impression that it is floating above the hillside.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

By doing this we saved the immense cost of creating soil retention walls around the site. This common sense solution allowed us to create a very delicate intervention, one that allows the terrain to breathe whilst providing spectacular views out towards the ocean from the key location on the site.

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest

Location: Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Date of Completion: November, 2013
Client: Gooden-Nahome Family
Area: Approx. 300 m2
Design Director: Benjamin Garcia Saxe
Project Coordinator: Daniel Sancho
Design Development: Soki So
Construction Documentation: Roger Navarro
Structural Engineer: Sotela Alfaro Ltd
Builder: Dante Medri

Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest
The three small buildings are separated and staggered to improve views
Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest
Lifting the house off the ground was more economical than digging into the hillside
Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest
Projecting roofs protect the interior from the sun and opening the facade allows for natural ventilation
Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest
The staggered arrangement maintains views from inside each of the rooms
Casa Flotanta by Benjamin Garcia Saxe Architecture is raised above a forest
Clear sight lines from a connecting corridor at the rear of property provide views in several directions
  • Thomas

    Nice place to live but “Oh no I dropped my glasses”.

  • anaquin

    One of the best residential responses to site I have personally seen in years, the architects and owners should be very proud of there project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chuck.anziulewicz PolishBear

    It’s utterly fantastic.

  • Felipe Sunol

    Photography is by Andres Garcia Lachner: http://garcialachner.com/

    • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

      Hi Felipe,
      The photography credit is just before the project description. I’ve added a link to the website as well. Ashleigh/Dezeen

  • Mari

    I guess mosquitoes are frequent visitors.

    • jezgooden

      The house was designed so that all insects simply pass through. The bamboo at the back is not a solid wall and everything just flows through the house. Simple but very effective. A house guest who stayed for a month didn’t get bitten once. Also we think we are too high for mosquitos.

  • zee

    Rare and beautiful combination of traditional Modernism