Casa Kike

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

“This was a dream commission,” says UK-based architect Gianni Botsford. “Design a retreat for a writer on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Make it contemporary, with clean lines and a modern aesthetic, and yet be sensitive to local tradition and material use.”
The result is an outstanding twin-volume structure of timber pavilions; one for daytime use, one for night, linked by a wooden walkway. The pavilions are raised 1.2 m above ground level on timber bases perched on wooden stilts. They sit at each end of the similarly raised walkway, their single pitched roofs rising peak at the extremities of the overall structure. They look like bookends or two quarrelling siblings, squatting hunched with their backs to each other.

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

The roof of the larger daytime work and contemplation space rises from 3 m at the walkway entrance to 4.75 m, to create a high end elevation with a large glazed facade facing towards the sea. The glazing comprises multiple rows of louvered panels. These inexpensive opening slats are common in local architecture. They are repeated at the other end of the building, effectively enabling the writer to open the ends of the pavilion and allow the sea breeze to flow freely through the entire space.
Inside, the library of 17,000 books, a writing desk and a grand piano, nestle within walls and a ceiling crafted out of locally-grown hardwoods. Structural columns rise diagonally up the walls and ceiling beams, also hewn from timber and up to 10m long are knitted together in a diamond pattern. The overall effect is warm and homely, like the wood paneled walls of a study, but also exciting in its audacious yet playful nature.

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

The smaller pavilion houses the bedroom and bathroom. Identical in form but only 2/3rds the size of the larger pavilion, it is orientated so that its highest end façade faces towards the jungle. It too, features glazed louvers to the end elevations.
The Artist’s Retreat is built within the grounds of an existing typical one-storey cobbled-together Cahuita house, such as dot the beach-front. Both buildings combine to create the whole property: the older house as guest quarters and the main kitchen, while the new pavilions are the artist’s main residence.
The wooden walkway between the two interior spaces is surrounded by a landscaped garden that includes a small pool and over 200 plants: it is seen as an outdoor living space, as large as the main studio, which nestles between avocado, mango and cashew trees.

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

The finished project is a tropical idyll, sitting serenely in its surrounding habitat. Botsford has achieved this by expertly combining local materials and construction methods with his trademark state-of-the-art design techniques to create the perfect writer’s retreat.
He has taken reference from native building styles and materials, rather than the western-influenced architecture favoured by wealthier Costa Ricans. However, using environmental software, the architect has plotted the sun movement, prevailing winds and desired views onto the site to find the optimum position and orientation for the new building. In addition to these parameters, the client also insisted that no trees be felled.
The shape of the two pavilions – parallelograms - reacts to results of the environmental analysis: it assists in promoting the best views and ventilation, while keeping the low sunlight out of the interior spaces and screening them from neighbouring properties. The length of the walkway between the pavilions was also calculated for optimum efficiency. At twice the length of the main building, it ensures that the smaller pavilion is not in the larger one’s ‘wind shadow’; that it benefits from the ocean breeze as much as the main building does.

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

The structural design of the pavilions is an intricate pattern of diagonal timber beams and columns. Designed for both structural and aesthetic qualities, the 355 x 50 mm ceiling beams negate the use of central columns. All timber is sourced local hardwood - Laurel, Cachá or Surá - as is the timber cladding and decking for the walkway. Externally, the pavilions are clad in low cost corrugated steel sheeting, as used on many rural Costa Rican dwellings.
“We are bringing new architectural life to the Caribbean by reappraising the architectural heritage of the region and reviving indigenous techniques,” says Botsford. “However, by coupling them with modern design technologies and aesthetics, we have created an eco-architecture that is remarkably light, impacting on its surrounding only minimally both physically and environmentally.”

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters

Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Christian Richters
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Gianni Botsford
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Gianni Botsford
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Gianni Botsford
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Gianni Botsford
Gianni Botsford, Christian Richters · Casa Kike
Gianni Botsford
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