- Electrical:Ing. Oscar Arias Leiva
- Structures:Ing. Juan Tuk Duran y Arq. Adolfo Mejía (Grupo XILO)
- Construction:Central de Servicios Químicos S.A.
- Client:Instituto Holcim, Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (IMAS) y la Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de la Reserva Indígena Cabecar del Bajo Chirripó
- Cost:$ 400 000
- Country:Costa Rica
Text description provided by the architects. Käpäcläjui Training Center is located on the Indian reservation of Tayutic, Turrialba, in the province of Cartago, Costa Rica. It includes a training center and hostel that facilitates interaction between locals and visitors, and develops sustainable community projects in harmony with the environment. In turn, the Center is part of a strategic system of rural integration and community strengthening including roads, caves and trails. Additionally, we design a network of pedestrian bridges that make some sections accessible at critical times of the year and can provide temporary shelter.
The Hostel project consists of 470 m2 distributed within a 'large linear layout' along its longitudinal axis. It comprises on the first level administrative areas (offices), multipurpose rooms, dining, kitchen, restrooms, computer room, library and warehouses. In the double height of the front part it incorporates a 'mezzanine' as a area that provides temporary shelter.
Inclusive design: project development and community participation
The rapprochement between the parties arises from the community management of the Indigenous Development Association Cabecar Chirripó, the Joint Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) and Holcim Foundation of Costa Rica, who subsequently incorporated Entre Nos Atelier into the design process.
The vision of the project arises from a series of participatory design workshops and subsequent validation of the proposals. These workshops were key to promoting a sense of ownership in the community when viewing and making decisions. It was the opportunity to understand and 'co-create' areas coherent with the environment and focusing on the needs of the user.
As a prospective process, we investigated with the community about their qualitative perception of an 'ideal' space and the relationship with functional determinants. This information is drawn, diagrammed, interpreted and synthesized with the support of community leaders and translators of the local dialect to establish guidelines for the project and programmatic bases.
The opportunities and design findings were multiple; from the qualities that define a comfortable, permeable space, ventilated, in direct contact with the environment and incorporating green areas and gardens. Moreover the materiality was also decisive and was discussed widely in the appreciation of a light and open 'shelter'; adding steep slopes arising from the tissues of suita, high spaces and local elucidations of the functional.
During these management processes, the service function of Entre Nos Atelier was to coordinate among the different interests, and to serve as partners of architectural ideas interpreted from the users. The technical coordination with the construction company (Xylo group) was also relevant, and their extensive experience with the selected material (wood) to optimize and explore beneficial technical-constructive criteria for the project.
The experience both in the design phase and during construction, is internalized as the constant opportunity of awareness of the surroundings; promoted by the consent and availability of the project team, and to positively impact the community and consequent architectural identity of the project.
Architecture and sensory experience
Regarding the sensory perspective, the project represents a constantly evolving process. From the architectural intentions put into the design project, arguing about lightweight spaces, subtle transitions between interconnected spaces by layers or glazes with a direct connection to the outside. Then as in every built architecture project, the surprises found reveal visual effects as spaces are crossed. We highlight the overlapping grid of 'petatillos' between different vertical planes transition, creating a visual sense of movement or Moiré effect. The gradient of intimacy and sense of partial shelter can be perceived between rooms or during the indoor-outdoor circulation through 'veils' on the envelope. These are embodied by panels assembled as 'overlapping tissues' of multi-tonal woods, gradually anticipating what you can find in the next room.
Finally, during the last phase of community ownership is where perhaps the most vivid and spontaneous surprises will arise, product of everyday use and appreciation of a formal-functional expression.