Architect Ksymena Borczynska has designed a house wrapped by curtains and supported by slender doubled columns with a thin roof in a jungle in Costa Rica.
Named Open Jungle House, the house is conceived as an open house to meet all needs of a couple who want to live in the middle of a forest.
Covering a total of 150-square-metre area, the house is drawn on a square layout that includes a kitchen and living & dining room designed as open units and separated by slender doubled columns.
While traveling in Costa Rica when the pandemic began, Ksymena Borczynska and her partner found a piece of land in the tropical rainforest and decided to build a house.
The couple, first, set up a tent and spent a few months living in it and getting to know the area. Later, they started building the house, gradually, following the ideas and needs which came from an understanding of the place.
“What we were certain of was that we want to spend our days outdoors, explore nature, and that we want our house to have a minimal impact on the environment,” said Ksymena Borczynska.
“We also wanted to design and build as much as possible on our own.”
“The majority of the structure and most of the furniture were designed and hand-made by me. My partner developed off-grid water and electricity systems and created the lighting concept,” she added.
The house is covered by a corrugated roof that is supported by slender doubled columns and doubled beams. All columns and beams are made from the same 2’’x2’’ (10.16×10.16 cm) local semi-hardwood called Laurel.
Columns are anchored in a series of small concrete foundations. Inside the house, the architetcs used the natural clay ground and preserved its topography and covered with a layer of gravel, with wooden and concrete platforms rising from it.
Rainwater, flowing from the roof into the wooden gutter, supplies a water tank and a pool. During heavy rains, curtains are drawn and providing a translucent, dancing-in-the-wind protection.
Considering seismic activity and soil movements in the area, the couple preferred to use the light and flexible. “The use of light components makes it possible for the structure to be built by just one person,” said the architect.
“Spaces are defined by their surroundings, which enclose them, extend them, open views… At night, soft warm light defines the columns and illuminates the spaces and the nature around them.”
“The surrounding trees create shade for the house and there is a breeze coming from the valley in the forest.”
“That, and obviously the openness of the structure, prevents accumulation of heat and humidity. We did not cut a single tree to construct the house, only a few dangerous branches needed to be removed,” the architects added.
According to Borczynska, living in this house means being in constant and intense contact with nature.
They can feel every change in light, wind, temperature, humidity; there is an endlessness of smells.
“We got to know all the animals which live around and in the house, their personalities, their habits. We are woken up by the songs of parrots and monkeys and the continuous, ever-changing melody goes on throughout the day,” she said.
“We have never had a bad experience with animals. We remove venomous snakes with the tongs and release them in the jungle.”
“The customised, spacious mosquito net gives us the protection we need at night. And the very simple design of the house, with no hidden or multi-layered parts, allows us to see which creatures want to cohabit with us. And then to decide if we are up for it.”
Project name: Open Jungle House
Completion Year: 2022
Gross Built Area: 150m2
Project Location: Costa Rica
Program / Use / Building Function: House
Lead Architects: Ksymena Borczynska
All images & drawings © Ksymena Borczynska.
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