Moveable Walls Amplify Sublime Views For This Costa Rican Home

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Surrounded by the jungle and overlooking the ocean, this terrace house features unique foldable walls to foster a stronger connection to nature.

Located in Santa Teresa, a small, seaside town in Costa Rica’s Puntarenas Province, Ocean Eye has been designed by the award-winning Costa Rican practice Studio Saxe. The two-level home is a series of interwoven terraces that create a dynamic, unexpected relationship between the residents and the surrounding natural landscape. 

Thanks to foldable wooden walls, the interstitial terrace spaces blur the lines between what is considered inside and out, fostering a stronger enjoyment and appreciation for Mother Nature.

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Here is the initial sketch that evolved into the design of Ocean Eye.

Here is the initial sketch that evolved into the design of Ocean Eye.

"A series of terraces break down barriers between the different spaces contained within, both vertically and horizontally, while simultaneously connecting the family to the surrounding landscape," says founder of Studio Saxe, Benjamin Garcia Saxe. 

Sited on the back of a steep hill, the house is a lightweight and exposed structure with enclosed private rooms at the rear that transition into more open terraces in the front to capture the stunning surrounding views.  

Sited on the back of a steep hill, the house is a lightweight and exposed structure with enclosed private rooms at the rear that transition into more open terraces in the front to capture the stunning surrounding views.  

"These openings in Ocean Eye have been carefully arranged to allow for the flow of air to move through the house, cooling it naturally in the humid environment." 

The outdoor dining and lounge area flows out toward the pool.

The outdoor dining and lounge area flows out toward the pool.

The bedrooms and bathrooms are enclosed in areas behind the terraces.

The bedrooms and bathrooms are enclosed in areas behind the terraces.

The front of the house is composed of expansive, open terraces that look toward the boundary between the ocean and the jungle.

The front of the house is composed of expansive, open terraces that look toward the boundary between the ocean and the jungle.

By interweaving multiple terraces with solid spaces, Saxe has created a dynamic internal interaction between the two levels of the house.  

By interweaving multiple terraces with solid spaces, Saxe has created a dynamic internal interaction between the two levels of the house.  

The terraces offer its owners many different outdoors spaces where they can enjoy varied perspectives of nature around them.

The terraces offer its owners many different outdoors spaces where they can enjoy varied perspectives of nature around them.

The terraces create such a strong sense of being outside that the house has practically become a part of the natural world. 

The terraces create such a strong sense of being outside that the house has practically become a part of the natural world. 

"Sometimes, contemporary tropical design is either too clinical, too rustic, or simply unoriginal. We are trying to find ways of interfering within the natural landscape responsibly, and reducing energy consumption through natural ventilation," explains Saxe.  

"Sometimes, contemporary tropical design is either too clinical, too rustic, or simply unoriginal. We are trying to find ways of interfering within the natural landscape responsibly, and reducing energy consumption through natural ventilation," explains Saxe.  

A cross sectional drawing.

A cross sectional drawing.

Another cross sectional drawing.

Another cross sectional drawing.

The floor plan of the first level.

The floor plan of the first level.

The second-level floor plan.

The second-level floor plan.

Project Credits:

Architecture: Studio Saxe 

Builder: Dante Medri and Adrian Alvarado 

Structural engineering: Sotela Alfaro Ltda. 

Photography: Andres Garcia Lachner