I want to present you some of the houses built in the Nosara region and extract the effort realized towards sustainability in the building process.
The first house presented here is situated on the heights of Ostional, in the middle of the green pastures of a cattle farm with the mark of this “Rancho” visible all around and even on the house itself.
From the moment you approach this “hacienda” looking house, the lush landscape tells you the owners love nature. But most important is that what you see first is not the house but the plants, covering the roofs, walls and surroundings. The green roofs are there to protect the inside of the house against the heat of the sun, but in this case they also provide extra ground for the climbing plants to cover the sun exposed facades.
Early in the design of the house, the owners required not to use A-C and this shows up. The main building sits on a small ridge, facing the prevailing winds to maximize internal air movement. The rooms have high ceilings as well as openings on opposite sides of the building to allow cross ventilation. No glass is used in the building and the doors and windows are made of fixed louvers or carved wood pieces to assure adequate ventilation even with the rooms locked.
The “stack effect” – hot air rises and cool air falls - is exploited to provide passive ventilation with the installation of thermal chimneys. Wood monitors with exquisite carved wood pieces are inserted in the middle of the roofs and they help draw the warm air upwards and replace it with the cooler ocean breeze.
Sustainability is also about using local materials and craftsmanship. In this case, the owner used wood from their own farm and Nosara wood shops to create all the doors and windows as well as most of the furniture. The lamps and metal decoration were also designed on site and done in Nosara.
As a core decision in the building process, the main structure is concrete mixed on site. The environmental benefit is that the ingredient that go to make the concrete, sand, gravel and Protland cement, are abundant and all are produced locally with the sand coming from Filadelfia, the stones from Nicoya and the cement from near the Tempisque Bridge.
All around the house, retaining walls are used to highlight the landscaping. These walls are made of white stones from Nicoya. Compared to other materials, relatively little energy is considered in the exploitation and process of stones but mainly they add to the house that touch of purity that is a unique signature from the Peninsula of Nicoya.
With the roof line gently following the line of the hill and with the effort of the integration of vegetation in the composition of the building, this house achieves an elegant simplicity which is ideal for its main function as a place of retreat.