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Studio Saxe Converts Former Disused House Into A Tropical Hotel In A Hidden Town Of Costa Rica

teaser_wacc-2-.jpg - Jul 2, 2018 - 07:09   1348 views

Costa Rican architecture firm Studio Saxe has converted a former dilapidated house into a new tropical hotel in Nosara, Costa Rica, the hidden town has long been known by the wider international community of surfers as a hidden gem and off-grid paradise of white sand beaches and constant waves.

Titled Gilded Iguana Hotel, the 5,340-square-metre hotel was entirely transformed by using the existing structure to make a tribute to the memory it holds for locals, travelers, and the town at large. 

"The Gilded Iguana beach-house historic restoration is also one of very few samples in Costa Rica that acknowledges the importance of preservation of traditional tropical architecture," said the architects.

"Decades ago the first wooden house in town was built close to the beach-break and in time this simple structure became the perfect resting place for transient surfers as well as a gathering venue for music, food, and interaction. The Gilded Iguana was born!"

"Today Nosara still attracts avid surfers from around the world however it has also become a destination for yogis, the wellness community, and families looking for healthy fun and adventure. Everyone shares a common goal to preserve the natural habitat and the low-key unpretentious essence of the place," they added.

Conceiving the structure as a new destination in this historical context, the new hotel addresses modern comforts and adapts to the new wave of travelers coming to the area whilst preserving the rich historical importance of the location.

The studio tried to complement the existing house with new structures poised around the property amongst the existing trees and in turn create a heart center framed by a fantastic communal area-pool for all guests to enjoy. The new Room Buildings along with the Reception and SPA areas combine elements of the old house such as the simple wooden frames and balconies with typical hand-made palm thatch "palapas" commonly found on the beach for shade.

"In contrast to typical enclosed and hermetic hotel developments in Latin America, the Reception area and Restaurant at The Gilded Iguana completely open up to the town of Nosara creating a subtle, relaxed, and unpretentious atmosphere where anyone can come in," the studio added in a press release.

The studio used very simple and unpolished materials in the interior and exterior, for example, by using teak, palm thatch, jute fabric, and concrete tiles with modern tropical furniture made with local materials and craftsmanship, the whole building entirely reflects itself as natural as possible.

Room Buildings are arranged to a varied type of traveler depending on their orientation. Pool Rooms are designed as ideal spaces for families, Jungle Rooms create a more private experience, and Surfer Rooms promote a more social interaction amongst travelers. 

Each room offers a large outdoor terrace that brings the outside in and allows for bedrooms to be connected strongly to the outside. Private gardens are incorporated into showers and the play of light and shadows constantly fills every space with an acute awareness of the natural environment.

"Walking around the Gilded Iguana is always an opportunity to encounter and mingle. The studio carefully placed seating areas as well as water stations and surfboard racks along the entire property which in turn provoke interaction amongst guests and a more down-to-earth and authentic experience amongst travellers," said the architects. 

The pool area is situated at the heart center for guests at the Gilded Iguana. The pool creates a magic atmosphere where the sun and water come together in a place where adults and children can enjoy the tropical weather, relax, read a book, or play. The simple geometry and natural pool stone tiles combine perfectly with the old house and the new structures around the property.

"The Gilded Iguana Hotel is designed as a harmonious 'dialogue' between the tropical identity of the past and a new toned-down, unpretentious, and timeless tropical modernity that sits softly in the landscape and reflects the relaxed town atmosphere which most wish to preserve," said architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe, Principal of Studio Saxe.

For the hotel's sustainability principle, the Gilded Iguana Hotel follows the Bioclimatic Design approach to take advantage of solar orientation, shade, wind currents, and others to create comfort through passive strategies of temperature control. 

Additionally, Studio Saxe used active sustainable technological measures such as water recycling through water treatment systems, solar hot water, and energy harnessing through photovoltaic. 

By using locally resourced materials, such as teak from certified sustainable farms, and local manual labor, the hotel creates a positive impact in the town of Nosara and generate new jobs for the community.

Site plan

Restaurant plan

Reception plan

Reception section

Bedrooms plan

Bedrooms section

Studio Saxe recently completed a terraced boutique hotel on a steep hillside in Costa Rica and a pair of steel-framed villas in the rainforest of Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.

Project facts

Location: Nosara, Costa Rica

Date of completion: 2018

Client: The Gilded Iguana 

Hotel Area: Aprox. 5340m2

Director: Benjamin García Saxe

Project Architect: Laura Morelli & Maribel Mora 

Project Team: Rogelio Quesada, Harold Solano

Builder: LHC

Hotel Consultant: Consuhotel

Interior Design: Sofia Interiorismo 

Structural Engineer: Sotela Alfaro Ltda. 

Electromechanical Engineer: Dynamo Studio 

Landscape: Zamia

Pool: Joan Roca

Treatment Plant: Tebag

Irrigation Consultant: Hidroplant 

Technology Consultant: Access Point 

All images © Andrés García Lachner

> via Studio Saxe