Dezeen Magazine

Guarumo building amongst the jungle

Tropical vegetation surrounds VOID's Guarumo concrete getaway in Costa Rica

An offset stack of concrete volumes forms this small apartment building on Costa Rica's lush Pacific coast, by local architecture firm VOID.

The Guarumo building overlooks the ocean from a hillside plot in Santa Teresa, a popular surfing destination near the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Glazed apartments face west
The Guarumo building is staggered down a steep slope

It houses five apartments that can be rented out separately, or as an entire villa for up to 14 guests.

Challenged by the steep topography, VOID chose to arrange the building as a stack of four cuboid volumes that are slightly offset from one another. All face west to enjoy water and sunset views.

Stacked concrete volumes
Cuboid concrete volumes are offset from one another

This layout allowed for minimal movement of soil or construction of retaining walls, and for upper floors to gain a better vantage over the dense tropical foliage.

Board-formed concrete was selected as the primary structural material. It wraps the accommodation blocks on five sides, leaving the sixth open for glazing.

The building seen from street level
Board-formed concrete walls are contrasted with weathering steel panels

The top two cuboids are almost identical in plan, each housing a two-bedroom apartment.

Sleeping quarters and en-suite bathrooms are positioned at both ends, flanking a small kitchen and lounge at the centre.

Communal living area open to the landscape
A communal living area is open to the landscape on all sides

All the rooms have floor-to-ceiling glass that opens onto balconies running the length of each volume.

The uppermost apartment also has access to a roof terrace, where sofas and loungers are shaded by a wood-framed cabana.

A staircase made from weathering steel mesh connects the storeys on the road side of the property, where a parking area sits level with the lower two-bed apartment.

The remainder of the building is below this grade, reached by a concrete ramp that descends to the main communal space.

Apartment interior with minimal furnishings
The building's five apartments can be rented out individually or as a whole property

Open to the landscape on all sides, the large kitchen, dining area and lounge are positioned between large concrete columns. They connect directly to a wooden sun deck and an infinity pool, surrounded by vegetation.

"The heart of Guarumo consists of a void, a fracture in the staggering of the program blocks, which becomes the social meeting point of the project for both residents and guests," said VOID.

A guest bedroom with concrete walls
Concrete and steel surfaces continue through the interiors

Three small studios occupy the lowest level – another concrete volume, located directly beneath the terrace.

These have just enough space for a double bed and bathroom, so need to make use of the facilities above.

Pool deck at sunset
The apartments, sun deck and infinity pool all face west for ocean and sunset views

Guarumo integrates several passive sustainable features, including rainwater collection, sewage water treatment for irrigation, and natural ventilation.

Timber was sourced locally, and materials were chosen for their low maintenance and longevity.

Pool deck and communal space at night
Guests are encouraged to socialise in the shared spaces

"The project is a reflection of the search that has marked our practice in sustainable architecture influenced by local and vernacular architecture, with a true understanding of the land," said the architects.

Costa Rica's mountainous terrain and vivid greenery contribute to the drama of houses and vacation spots built in its jungles and along the coastline. See some of the most spectacular Costa Rican homes here.

The photography is by Leonardo Finotti.

Project credits:

Architect: VOID
Developer: Stealth Development

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