Our idea of green building took on a whole new meaning after visiting Casa Salvaje (Wild House), María de la Paz Alice’s off-the-grid mountain masterpiece. The founder of Mazpazz Arquitectura showed us how her unique discipline of artisanal tropical architecture creates a harmonious relationship between contemporary design and nature. This stunning home she built for her sister-in-law in the cloud forest of Palmichal de Acosta has earned global accolades. Located two hours outside of San José, the remote getaway was designed with reverence for its natural surroundings.
The striking entry is a poured concrete cube with a crystal-encrusted floor to reflect sunlight and two large circular windows that perfectly frame the surrounding cloud forest. “It’s meant to resemble a greenhouse and a place where you immediately connect to nature,” she explains. As with all of her projects, she only worked with local materials—stone, concrete, wood. And touches like imprints of leaves from the property’s trees sealed in concrete act as subtle stamps of place. Natural springs on the property supply water for the swimming pool (You can drink out of it!), good sun exposure provides solar power, and the garden is mostly edible. “We often focus on our shortage of resources but when you get innovative and experiment you can create socially and environmentally-conscious projects,” she says.