Small Shoots, Big Shades: Beautiful Tropical Bamboo Home

A climate-specific design for Costa Rica by an architect for his mother, this is a unique dream home that combines local building traditions, modern techniques and an extreme sensitivity to connecting the interior with the wild and wonderful outdoors around the house. Her previous abode? A self-constructed work composed of scrap wood and plastic, making this an even more remarkably luxurious upgrade to jungle living..

The overall idea, envisioned and executed by architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, inverts the traditional roles of forest and home – instead of surrounding the house, the bamboo wood establishes the basis for every part of its interior. Plants growing between the two core living areas – situated under a roofless portion of the structure – reinforce this open-layout, inside-out concept (as do the ubiquitous natural-finish bamboo tables, poles and so forth throughout).

Angled and open-ended bamboo cylinders make up the exterior walls, keeping water out while letting light and air in. The lower roof is still significantly elevated and semi-transparent at the edges and in the middle, making it feel like more of a floating canopy. Meanwhile, providing more complete shelter, a metal roofing sits above and seems to hover even farther away. This second roof is lofted above lower one rather than sitting on it directly, its material lightness reinforced by the translucency and thin profile and the canvas and-bamboo covering blow.

At night is when the building comes most to life, however, with each minute detail and organic material variation highlighted by dazzling dark shadows cast in all directions – what might be mistaken for a simple cabin in the woods by day becomes a virtual wooden shrine in the evening. The artificial light also highlights the amazingly diverse uses of bamboo, for everything from walls and floors to structural supports and fold-open doors. A hardy and fast-growing species, the owner could even grow her own live replacement materials virtually for free in the garden should something need fixing. Alas, this design approach is location-limited – it works great for a region like this, but would not fare well in cold climates..

See more designs under Green Homes or in the Architecture category:
Supporters