As a rule, we tend to prefer a modest footprint when it comes to off-grid cabins, but we won't say no to a luxe mountain house that employs the same design practices. Despite an increasingly standardized look within the building industry, modern passive design isn't one size fits all, and any contemporary structure that pushes the limits and experiments is a go for us. (A remote location with a view never hurts either.)
Casa Salvaje by Mazpazz Architects is just such an exception. Planted in the mountains of Palmichal de Acosta, a region in Costa Rica's cloud forest, the private off-grid residence proves sustainable design has no single look, and in fact can be downright stunning. And, with a design rooted in wellness and cosmic healing practices, this mountain villa takes things a step further.
Arriving at Casa Salvaje, one's first experience of the space is through "the portal," a poured concrete entry with circular cutouts that frame the mountains ahead and the sky above. Crystals embedded in the floor capture the energy of the surrounding elements, passing them to each visitor, while native plants stamped into the concrete walls connect with the vegetation that wraps the structure's exterior. The space acts simultaneously as meditation space and greenhouse.
Inside the house, Casa Salvaje is lined entirely with roble coral, a native hardwood whose warm tones lend a homey, cabin-like vibe to the space. The work of designer Ileana Guerrero, the interior is completed with handmade pieces and local artwork.
At roughly 1,300 square feet, the home includes two bedrooms with respective bathrooms, a spacious living area with a kitchen, and two terraces. The landscape, designed by Jorge Salgado, is made up of native edible and medicinal plants with spring water pools throughout.
Because of the house's remote location, local materials were used widely throughout the project. Builders used local stone for the exterior walls, and Costa Rican teak wood, hand hewn on-site, for the roof shingles. The chosen materials are durable, intended to last through the frequently challenging tropical climate, and the house is 100% off-grid thanks to solar energy and a system for capturing spring water.
Casa Salvaje shows us a side of passive design that appears effortlessly luxurious and holistic and is a far cry from some of the sterile LEED-certified buildings of today.
There's no reason sustainable, off-grid design can't be impressive or unique—hell, the Seven Wonders were built before HVAC.