No Footprint House by A-01

This contemporary retreat designed in 2017 by A-01 is located at the edge of the vast tropical rain forests along the western coastline of Costa Rica.


The No Footprint House (NFH) is located at the edge of the vast tropical rain forests along the western coastline of Costa Rica. Placed in a humid tropical climate, the building responds to its surrounding habitat by passive climate control through natural ventilation and solar shading.

The NFH is organized around a central service core, which contributes to the efficiency of space, assembly and maintenance. Additional furniture pieces are “plugged” into the double-layered envelope in-between the vertical interior structure and the inclined outer façades. The function of the oblique is to decrease the direct impact of sunlight and precipitation, it protects the elevated floorplan from overheating and splashing water. Façade panels can be opened or closed individually in order to regulate views and exposure, augment or reduce air flows, as well as to increase privacy and security. Various layers of glass sliders and “curtain walls” create further protection for the private rooms of the house. They convert open into closed spaces and play with the indoor-outdoor dynamic of tropical architecture.

The house in Ojochal is based on a larger toolbox of residential typologies. It was prefabricated in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and transported to the target location overnight and on one single truck. Designed as a prototype for serial production, the house creates valuable experience for differently sized building typologies that can be auto-configured with regards to their materialization and desired level of services. The client can choose from a larger catalogue of pre-selected components for sustainable construction, the first of its kind in Central America. The efficiency of building design and logistics allows for the product to be offered at affordable cost, the diversity of options caters for a broad customer segment. The NFH seeks integral sustainability in terms of its environmental, economic, social and spatial performance.

Photography by Fernando Alda

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- by Matt Watts