Seattle architecture firm Olson Kundig is best known for its ability to bridge nature and design, creating beautiful homes, unconventional cabins, and even office buildings across the Pacific Northwest and far beyond. One of its latest projects, the Costa Rica Treehouse, brings the studo's award-winning approach south to the Central American jungle.
Built for a pair of surfers with a passion for environmental sustainability, pulling off the project was no easy feat. The three-story, 2,140-square-foot house rises above the treetops of the jungle in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Designed to mimic an open-air surf hut, the striking house is fully immersed in the jungle yet offers expansive views of nearby Playa Hermosa beach, too.
To emphasize the importance of the surrounding lanscape, the design anchors the structure into the sloped terrain of the forest floor, allowing visitors to enter the home on the ground floor or through the suspension bridge canopy on the second level.
To minimize environmental impact on the ground, the treehouse instead expanding upwards for functional and dramatic effect. The first floor houses the kitchen and dining room, with an adjoining deck and small pool, while the main bedroom and living areas occupy the upper floors. The house runs on solar energy and features a rainwater collection system, aided by a cantilevered metal-and-timber roof.
Constructed almost entirely of teak wood sourced from a farm 20 miles away, the architects also relied on wood from the native Samanea saman, or "rain tree," for the larger support beams. A manually operated double-screen wooden shutter system lets in daylight and tropical air, and the home can be completely opened to the elements. In this way, occupants can live and work amongst the forest vegetation on the ground floor and view the day's surf conditions on the third.
There's not much Olson Kundig didn't think of when it came to creating a structure that complements the surrounding jungle environment. The treehouse's indoor-outdoor design seamlessly immerses visitors in the Costa Rican jungle. If the owners ever decide to list the place on Airbnb, we'll be sure to let you know.