Location: Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Type: Residential architecture
Size: 6,000-sf ground-up development
Team: Michael Lillard, Bruno G Tavares, Dawn Thompson, with DZ/CR architect and TBD/CR engineers
Program: (4) 1,500-sf two-story condo units with open living/dining/kitchen areas, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms each
Status: Design development
The Courtyard Condominium is located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, only a five-minute walk from the beach. The complex was conceived as an internally focused spa-like boutique-retreat, a place for contemplation free from outside distractions. The building's configuration is a contemporary take on a traditional courtyard scenario, the overall aesthetic similar to that of a pineapple or coconut, rugged and protective on the exterior, refined and rejuvenating on the interior. The location also serves well as home-base for deep sea fishing and scuba diving excursions, plus daytrips to nearby volcanoes, hot springs, lakes, and rain forests.
The complex consists of four two-story condominiums, each with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The bedrooms are located on the quieter, more secluded, ground floors, having a shared bathroom with laundry, plus entry off the garden. The second bathroom with open plan living/dining/kitchen areas are located on the second floors, having large glass panels opening directly onto the shared, upper garden decks. Each unit also has a private deck with an outdoor grilling/eating area, an outdoor shower, and a private sunbathing/lounging area.
The courtyard is a multi-level garden with falls, pools, and small streams, all intermingled to create a meandering tropical setting. A spiral staircase plus several vertical garden trellises extend from the ground floor, past the midlevel, through light wells in the upper decks, connecting all garden levels. One vertical trellis elbows over the upper deck to create a vine-covered outdoor eating area. There is a shared cabana/bar next to the soaking pool on the mid-level. The bar is located under a second spiral stair that extends from the upper deck to a crow's nest with views of the beach beyond. When entering the complex from the street or via the on-site parking, one can either take the stairs to the living spaces off the upper decks or walk along the garden paths to enter the bedroom floors. Each unit also has an internal stair connecting their respective floors. A second entry to the complex is located on the Northwest facing facade, providing access to and from the beach.
The building structures use cost-effective, common local systems (reinforced poured concrete columns and slabs with CMU infill), creatively detailed to acheive a high-end look/feel. The building skins and interiors are similarily designed and developed, using readily available, sustainable materials and products. Local tile and stained glass makers are to be sourced and used to add cost-effective, yet customized components throughout. Passive and active solar features, as well as, miscellaneous sustainable/green technologies and materials are incorporated, all to reduce future upkeep and monthly energy costs. An exterior wood louver system keeps the masonry beneath cooler, plus shields some exterior windows and lifted sections of clearstory roofs, further reducing direct heat gain. The overall complex focuses inward, the terra cotta roofs rising toward the cental garden, the courtyard walls having more glass - everything facing the multi-level, steel tube and wood deck, garden structure. The shared outdoor spaces provide a variety of experiences, varying degrees of light and shade for both sunbathing and relaxing.