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Building for Your Environment | Design in Senderos

The process of home design at Senderos prioritizes a luxury homeowner experience, location-appropriate design, durability, and a small ecological footprint — all while aiming for a reasonable price tag.

In this article, we had the opportunity to sit down with Senderos Managing Partner Curtis Peart and discuss how the conditions, environment, and materials factor into the design philosophy in Senderos. 

Building the Right Home from Start to Finish

Curtis Peart has decades of building experience around the world and explains that, despite homebuilding’s history as perhaps one of the oldest industries on the planet, the industry is still constantly evolving thanks to new technology, techniques, and priorities. 

One such priority that has come to prominence in the past few decades is the concept of building the right home, as both builders and homeowners become increasingly aware of their impact on their environment.

However, as Curtis explains, many builders are still just scratching the surface of what this can mean. 

“The new goal is building a home that is completely suited to its environment. It’s an overall process that starts from choosing a site and the first inkling of design all of the way through to delivering the home and educating the homeowner or property manager.”

Curtis took some time to walk us through some of the key foundational aspects of building a home suited to each home site, homeowner, and the overall area of Guanacaste.

Terrain and elevation study by Studio Saxe for home design 3D, one of many studies (along with wind direction, rainfall, temperature, and sun direction) done in the process of design

A Home Inspired by Its Environment | Key Elements

Understanding Your Location

Thanks to Costa Rica’s impressive terrain diversity, even within a few square miles you can find homes from the beachfront to the mountainside, in dense forests or looking across expansive farmland, each of which presents their own challenges and benefits. 

Take, for example, the mountainside homesites in Senderos. Building on a slope is more challenging than building on flat ground. But, thanks to their slope, these homes have excellent views just a short distance from the coast, which can be enjoyed in almost every room. 

Home 6E, a brand-new upcoming home. Keep an eye out for a full feature next month.

“We don’t just level everything to a flat base. We allow our terrain to inspire our designs. It’s the same with landscaping. You have some beautiful trees and foliage, and you can use that in a smart way to add character, color, shade, and other benefits to the home.”

Designing for Your Climate

Every location has different climate challenges throughout the year, be they from heat, humidity, rain, wind, sun, snow, etc. Guanacaste, for example, has a relatively consistent, high temperature throughout the year, and the main variation is the amount of humidity and wind.

Though fluctuating humidity and wind require their own considerations, a stable temperature throughout the year means that homes can be designed with one major goal in mind: to manage heat. 

In comparison, homes in more temperate regions often have to be built to consider both hot and cold temperatures, meaning they can’t be quite as specialized for either one. 

Heat reduction is a big area of innovation in Senderos, one that we’ll touch on in more depth in a later article, but Curtis touched on a few of the considerations for designers and builders. 

The view over Senderos in Costa Rican summer

“For heat, you have tools like insulation, natural shading, passive cooling, wind cooling. You look to use materials that stay cool and reflect heat well, and you want to avoid heat sinks. On the inside, you want to get the most bang for your buck with A/C and other systems.

You want to do all of this while marrying a good homeowner experience. Everyone likes big windows, areas where you can be outside enjoying the sun, so the question becomes how can you provide that experience, while also keeping it comfortable, and keeping bills down.” 

Choosing Your Materials

When choosing the materials to build and finish a house, there are a number of different considerations. Of course, you want to ensure that your home looks good and has a unique identity, and also provides a comfortable and enjoyable experience. 

But when it comes to building a home ideally suited to your particular environment, you’re not just choosing how the home looks

Two major considerations for materials are how long it will last in your climate (which in Guanacaste’s case can be high in sun, salt, heat and wind), as well as how far the materials have to travel. 

Home 6C, with a design that emphasizes local, blonde woods. Now available for purchase

“In Senderos, we look at the whole supply chain of our materials from raw resource to the home, and we try to find materials that are cost-effective to source, appropriate for this environment, and won’t need to be frequently replaced. In this way, we can reduce our overall footprint.

Fortunately, buying local actually helps a lot here in more ways than one. In addition to reducing the distance that materials have to travel, materials sourced in this climate, like the trees, are often naturally suited to last here, and you have a good blueprint for where to look first.

Add in the fact that you have a really incredible variety of materials to choose from, and there’s every reason to source from Costa Rica.”

Educating the Homeowners and Property Managers

Clever design and material selection can take a home a long way, but these factors are severely mitigated if your homeowner doesn’t understand how the house works, how to best make use of it, and how to care for it. 

For example, the energy efficiency of a home often has just as much, if not more, to do with the homeowner usage pattern as the design of the home itself. A small amount of education at the beginning of the homeowning process can go a long way.

Here at Senderos, we design homes to last for generations

“Homeowner education is a big thing in Senderos. We want everyone to understand how best to enjoy their home (and hopefully be a part of planning that), along with understanding what they can do to take care of it. 

We want to make sure that you understand what types of appliances and upgrades work here, what small pieces of maintenance can go a long way, and how to use your home so that it’s as energy-efficient and long-lasting as possible. If we can do that, then we’ve done a big part of our job.”

Building for Your Environment | A Design Philosophy

As you can see above, there are countless details that go into designing a home that is not just beautiful and enjoyable but also ideally suited to its region and its homesite.

In fact, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of the many considerations that go into creating an innovative, delightful home in Senderos that will last for the years to come.

In the coming months, we’ll be sitting back down with Curtis to review some of the many considerations of homebuilding in Costa Rica in more detail and understand how these small, thoughtful details can add up to the modern, tropical excellence of Senderos homes.

Thanks to Curtis for sitting down with us.