Casa Incubo in San José, Costa Rica, was ingeniously realised by architect Maria José Trejos by using 8 shipping containers as building shells and employing an impressive array of green design solutions for the interiors.
“This project questions the need for excessively large spaces, and challenges its occupants to be efficient.” The team from Arquitectura Maria José Trejos hits the nail on the head with this statement. Casa Incubo is an exemplary model of green design and sustainable living, and is located at Escazú in the San José province of Costa Rica, hugged by drool-worthy natural openness.
While a huge number of green architectural projects prefer to focus on the use of locally-available, environment-friendly building materials; low construction costs; and long-term, hassle-free maintenance schemes; few make the conservation of space a priority.
Casa Incubo attests to the importance of including all these elements in a responsible building’s design, and demonstrates the possibility of looking good and feeling homely in spite of all these commitments.The first green salvo in this remarkable 3-level building was realised with the incorporation of 8 interconnected re-usable cube containers.
“We estimate that the use of the containers reduced construction time by 20% and the total cost by approximately 20% as well,” attests the team. The choice also accords the project its distinct visual appeal and fluidity – like, a second-storey offset container that is capable of shifting a bit to help create an extended exterior space.
This shape-shifting provision is apt for a professional photographer’s abode that aims to be not just a home but also a gallery and a study. Deft geometrical plays in spacing also ensure the creation of solid swathes of room, with 4 linked and offset parallel containers staring off to enclose 95 sq m of space that fulcrums the design’s central module spread. The container walls have also been repurposed to be the home’s doors.
A sinewy cedar tree stood at the site before any drawing boards had been filled up, and it got not just included in the design scheme but also got a stellar position on the patio, to be visible from all sections of the home. Additionally, its wood also came to be used to create the furniture pieces as well as
Energy flow is highly-regulated and well-planned here, with the shape of the sub-structures ensuring fantastic air-flow that make air-conditioning redundant, and ample sunlight, especially from the glazed western façade, that makes day-time illumination unnecessary. The solar energy largesse also powers the solar panels that heat the water.
The deck is made up of wood that was sourced from certified renewable means and is mixed with recycled plastic. Irrigation and toilet flushing needs are taken care of by a rain-water harvesting set-up.
In lovely aesthetic contrast to the industrial drabness of the façade and exterior are the shiny interiors, represented by flooring dominated by bamboo and polished concrete. There is a subtle play of the slick, modern and earthy simplicity here, perfect for the multiple identities the home lends itself to.
The rooms ascribe to textbook minimalism, eschewing colour on the walls when artwork is in the vicinity, and otherwise making statements out of eclectically-coloured and printed settees, and display cases.
The furniture pieces here are often glass-topped and supported by chunky wooden stumps, with the lamps generally being covered in metallic bowl-shaped sheaths and sometimes prehensile-seeming spines.
The overall tilt and direction of the home were influenced by the weather conditions, and of course, the angular but blunt flat sweeps of the structural shells are courtesy the containers. The north-eastern side of the façade features mobile bamboo panels that act as radiation-blockers. The social areas and the work-stations occupy the first-level of the home, while the private study and rooms are spread across the second-level. The third-level is the terrace.
Casa Incubo is without doubt a beautiful structure that will continue to inspire designers working in the increasingly challenging fields of green design and architecture. In no short measure, here will be its shining example of combining practical building wisdom with the hearty impetuousness of artistic expression.
Text By Shruti Nambiar
Photographs By Sergio Pucci