Santiago Hills Villa by Studio Saxe

Location: Santiago, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Date of completion: January 2020
Client: Partners of Santiago Hills Villa
Area: Approx. 400 m2
Design Director: Benjamin G. Saxe
Builder: Sebastian Patenaude
Structural Engineer: Guidi Estructurales
Electromechanical Engineer: CIEM
Photography: Andres Garcia Lachner

About Studio Saxe

Benjamin Garcia Saxe set up his own practice in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2004, with the aim of exploring our relationship with the natural environment through architecture. Since then, Studio Saxe has grown into an award-winning international practice made up of a multidisciplinary team, creating buildings and spaces by blending technological innovation with handcrafted techniques to form truly sustainable designs.

Founded on the belief that buildings must connect to their landscape – whether a tropical paradise or a concrete jungle – Studio Saxe brings a global attitude to solve local problems. Ideas and techniques from around the world can be harnessed to benefit communities, both at home and abroad. Local traditions and identities are explored and developed, ensuring a process whereby we learn from the past and build for the future.

The dedicated architects and designers at Studio Saxe uncover new design solutions for every project, treating each building as an opportunity to improve methods and approaches, responding to specific places. Working alongside clients and collaborators, the studio continually seeks new forms and functions that blur the boundaries between natural habitats and inhabited space.

Wing-like roofline houses dramatic white villa in Costa Rica jungle.

Studio Saxe was commissioned to design a villa on the hilltops of Santiago in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. The primary objective was not only to provide dwellers with a connection with its jungle surroundings but also to generate an intimate relationship with an amazing view of the shoreline which brings its dwellers back to a more profound appreciation of the natural world.


Studio Saxe decided to create a large roof that would house within a series of bedrooms and living spaces that would all be turned sideways in order to face the prominent views. Interstitial spaces within the living volumes create gaps that enhance a deeper connection to the natural surroundings whilst moving about the dwelling.


Every space in the home has been angled to view the ocean, and this twist creates a geometric relationship between the roofline and the spaces that became the primary element of design that both addresses the need for large overhangs (for climate control and comfort) but also generates a literal connection between the view and every space.

This white house in the jungle acts as a canvas so that morning and sunset light reflect on its surfaces creating an array of colors that vary throughout the day. The angled surfaces also allow for the reflection of shadows and the textures of nature to play within the interstitial spaces that exist between the living spaces.


Due to the remoteness of the location and difficult access, Studio Saxe decided to create a light steel frame that could be prefabricated off-site, brought, and assembled in a fast and effective way. This not only ensured the quality of the construction in a very remote location, but it also allowed the process of construction to be very light touch and the intervention on the site to be very minimal while creating the sensation of large open spaces that bring the view in and at the same time are protected by a large roof held by steel “I” beams.


At Studio Saxe we believe that proper design with nature should be the first focus of sustainability and thus, this villa has been oriented properly to take advantage of predominant winds for cooling. Also, long overhangs protect from the sun and the rain in the most critical parts of the day creating comfort without the use of energy. A light touch construction method meant that the impact on the site was minimal during the implementation of the villa and the extended roofline also serves as a means to collect water and energy generation.

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