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Ocean Eye

Benjamin Garcia Saxe

Shared By

Symone Garvett

Project Name

Ocean Eye

Project Status


Year Completed



3,230 sq. feet


Holdener Family


  • Benjamin Garcia Saxe (Design Director)
  • Laura Morelli (Project Coordinator)
  • Cesar Coto, Rogelio Quesada, Alejandro Gonzalez, Maribel Mora (Project Design Team)


  • Construction Manager: Roger Navarro
  • Structural Engineer: Sotela Alfaro Ltd.
  • Electrical Engineer: Electrotec S.A.
  • General Contractor: Dante Medri and Adrian Alvarado

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Project Description


The Holdener family bought a beautiful property with two breath-taking views: towards the ocean and into the jungle. We decided to rest the house against the back of the steep hill of the site in order to stabilize the soil and protect the house from falling debris. The house then transitions from a more solid and intimate construction at the back that holds bedrooms and bathrooms, towards a light-weight and ephemeral structure that points to the visual collapse of the ocean and jungle views. The result is a series of interwoven terraces that relate to each other in all dimensions creating not only an internal dynamic interaction between levels, but also varied and sometimes unexpected relationships between the inhabitants and the natural landscape. In these interstitial terrace spaces, which are never truly inside or out, architecture comes to foster the relationship, enjoyment, and appreciation of the natural world by the inhabitants.

We used photo-voltaic panels to create the energy needed for the home as well as solar thermal technology to heat water. Every single item in the house is energy efficient and the entire lighting system has been developed with high efficiency LEDs.

The house collects rainwater from all roof structures to store and use throughout the house for all human activity.

The project is composed in great proportion out of locally resourced reforested and certified Melina wood. Most sinks were hand crafted and created on site, as well as doors, kitchen cabinetry, and bathroom furniture. This house, even though it might resemble an idea of modernity, is actually a carefully handcrafted object built by local workers under extreme and remote tropical conditions with limited resources and tools with local materials.

Building Techniques
Due to the remote location of the property, the main structure of the house was designed to be semi-prefabricated steel members that could be as light-weight as possible and brought to site preassembled. This reduced the construction process impact on the topography as well as helped brings costs down by making a quicker and more efficient construction process. The result is a house that combines gracefully contemporary materials and techniques with local handcrafted construction.

We have seen how buildings with the highest sustainability standards in the world can also be very ugly. For us it is important to search for a type of beauty that will make inhabiting spaces a wonderful experience that enhances the relationship between humans and the natural world. We see sustainability as an intrinsic value that relates to the inherent beauty of built objects. We look for efficiency more as a way to find some beauty in what works well. An incredibly sustainable design that is ugly will probably be demolished before any design that humans cherish as beautiful. We strive to find a type of beauty that will make our designs last and be cherished by inhabitants of today and tomorrow.
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