Casa Torcida pool at night

It might look like a contemporary and aloof initially, but this bold white-and-glass house takes a surprisingly delicate approach to its surroundings upon closer inspection … starting with the fact that the core steel structural frame and concrete foundation slab were already in place and long abandoned.

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Casa Torcida in the trees

All displaced timber cleared prior to construction was reused within the home, while a combination of solar roof panels and rainwater recycling render it free of outside energy or well-water requirements.

Casa Torcida kitchen
Casa Torcida library

Why would someone want to live in something so clean and pristine in such a rugged landscape? First, the views: large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows engage the surroundings in a beautiful variety of ways. Cool tropical breezes naturally ventilate the home through slatted wood drop-down doors and operable glass elements, depending upon the space, creating air flow through the entire open-style plan.

Casa Torcida view from living room

Second, since the environment around it is visually dense (and arguably daunting for a city dweller), having the house feel more ‘civilized’ helps mitigate the sense that it is isolate and alone in hostile environs.

Casa Torcida living room inside

Finally, it should be noted that not everything is quite so elemental once you take a closer look; there are moments of softer and rougher materiality, from wooden stairs and accents to variegated brick walls.

Casa Torcida living area
Casa Torcida deck

In the end, it is actually somewhat surprising how well the border between man-made and natural worlds break on the site in architect-intended ways. SPG added an edgeless swimming pool, for example, which runs right up along the sides of a railing-free balcony. Patios at each level create plenty of space for lounging outdoors in the sunlight (or moonlight).

Casa Torcida backyard

“In 2005, SPG Architects was approached by our client to re-consider the incomplete structure that he had previously erected on a remote Costa Rican coastal hillside. The all-but-abandoned steel framework and concrete slab construction was being reclaimed by the forest yet the prior investment in time, materials, and money was considerable. Although the structure was beautifully sited, it needed considerable re-thinking to become a viable and beautiful home.”

“As architects we were convinced that salvaging the existing structure was not only feasible but also the right thing to do, for both the client and the environment. The dual concerns of accommodating the needs of the client and preserving the natural landscape shaped the design and construction process from that point forward.”