American firm Olson Kundig Architects has designed this jungle-inspired retreat nestled in a densely forested site on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Built entirely of teak wood harvested on-site, the Costa Rica Treehouse engages with the jungle at each of its three levels.
At the ground level, the building merges with the forest floor and also connects to a concrete swimming pool that rises up from the sloped site. The main level contains an open-plan kitchen and dining area, along with storage space. The middle level – which encompasses a bedroom, bathroom and additional storage – is nestled within the trees.
The top level houses a living room and bathroom. This floor is lifted above the forest canopy, enabling views of the jungle and ocean.
The clients are surfers as well as avid environmentalists, and this project reflects their deep commitment to sustainable land management in Costa Rica. Designed as an open-air surfer hut, the project engages the Costa Rican landscape in various ways, from the vegetation accessible just off the main floor, to the larger weather and surf patterns one can experience on the top level.
“The project has an intentionally small footprint and is quite tall,” said Tom Kundig in a project statement. “This allowed us to maintain a light influence on the site while engaging with the natural landscape in different ways on all three levels of the house.”
Designed to operate passively, the home is intended to breathe and remain open to the elements in this temperate semi-tropic environment. The top and bottom floors are completely open to the elements with a double-screen operable wood shutter system, allowing daylight and natural ventilation, but also privacy and security when the owners are away. Shading, a 3.5-kW photovoltaic array, and a rainwater collection system make the house’s compact footprint even lighter on the land.