The Black House is located along the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It has been developed as a new prototype for the modular No Footprint House series (NFH). The climate-responsive design of the NFH variations is based on passive strategies such as site-specific positioning and the use of natural resources for cross ventilation, solar shading and energy production, as well as rainwater harvesting and biological water filtration. Industrial building techniques and prefabricated components are used to create a high level of efficiency that can be delivered to any target location. Since the creation of the multi-award winning first prototype of the NFH, we developed new building typologies and alternative construction materials to continuously improve the overall project performance, lower its environmental impact while stimulating local and circular economies. The different sizes and configurations of the individual building typologies cater for a broad customer segment. Multiple options for the building structure, finishes and furniture components allow for an optimized relationship of product and budget, based on a catalogue of pre-selected elements for sustainable construction ("kit of parts"). The Black House is built as a steel frame with wooden components for exterior and interior surfaces, as well as the integrated furniture pieces. All timber components are made from laminated and certified teak wood that is sustainably produced and processed in Costa Rica. In terms of the specific modular layout of this building, a studio typology was designed for a couple to live and work in one compact unit. Operable facade elements allow for the interior spaces of the house to open up towards their surrounding natural habitat, resulting in a symbiotic relationship among nature and the built environment.



The Black House is designed as a steel structure of three different levels that are carefully situated with regards to the topography of its target location. A multifunctional storage and work space is partially built into the hillside, topped by a main level and viewing platform above. The main level is composed of 4 modular quadrants of 4x4m each, with a 1m corridor to 3 sides and a 4-meter-deep view terrace towards the sea. This level measures about 130 square meters in total. The roofed balconies above and below the main level measure 40 square meters each, the storage and work space accounts for an additional 32 square meters. Overall, the Black House provides 242 square meters of usable area. It was built for a total cost of 220.000 US Dollars, including all of the interior finishes and furniture pieces. Water and energy for the building is provided by renewable resources. The bioclimatic architectural design provides natural shading and ventilation on the base of the local site characteristics and tropical climate. The project seeks for integral sustainability in terms of its social, economic and environmental performance.

A-01 (A Company / A Foundation) in collaboration with ARS Arquitectos Ingenieros

A-01 is an interdisciplinary office for design and development. Our work methodology aims to break the boundaries of a single professional perspective in order to allow for a holistic approach that shapes our products. We envision a long-term impact that involves a responsible use of natural resources and economic growth, as well as an equal social development in a high quality spatial surrounding. This complex set of factors is simply referred to as “the 4 E” of integral sustainability and regeneration: Environment, Economy, Equality and Engineering. A topical focus is set according to the specific project parameters and target location.

Black House (Casa Negra) by Oliver Schütte in Costa Rica won the WA Award Cycle 45. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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