Studio Saxe complete Costa Rica hotel 'open to the elements'

At Mint, we endeavored to create a contextual design that adapts to its landscape and offers a new type of experience for a breed of traveler seeking authenticity
– Benjamin Garcia Saxe, design director

Costa Rican architects Studio Saxe have completed a hotel that steps down a steep coastal hillside, formed of a series of terraces that can be completely opened up to the elements.

The firm – self-declared creators of ‘tropical architecture’ – have blended a European design aesthetic with Costa Rican craftsmanship, while opening up the building to allow the verdant landscape to invade from almost all directions.

The Swedish owners of the 660sq m (7,100sq ft) Mint Santa Theresa Hotel want to establish the property as a relaxing destination for travellers to Costa Rica’s beach town Santa Teresa, an emerging hotbed for surfing, yoga and wellness. Their brief to the architects called for a minimalist, Scandinavian design that harmonises with the green landscape.

Explaining their resultant concept in a design statement, Studio Saxe said: “Hotel residents occupy individual pavilion-like structures where they can retreat into a private zone and yet still interact with the nature around them. The spacious guest rooms can be opened up completely to a personal terrace with an ocean view to the front and a garden with tropical plants in the rear. Even the bathrooms have an open layout, giving the guests the opportunity to shower while listening to the sound of the crashing waves.”

At the heart of the hotel is a communal lounge area with an infinity pool and sunset bar. It too is open on all sides, except for a single wall of plants by the entrance.

Local materials have been heavily used for the hotel. Ceilings are made of caña brava, a type of grass, installed in an intricate fishbone pattern, while the furniture has been custom-made by local craftsmen using local wood and rattan.

“Hotels are traditionally vast objects in the landscape that bear no relation to their surroundings and are devoid of genuine human interaction,” said design director and studio founder Benjamin Garcia Saxe. “At Mint, we endeavoured to create a contextual design that adapts to its landscape and offers a new type of experience for a breed of traveller seeking authenticity.

“We worked hard on creating spaces that combine an appreciation of natural beauty with a rich array of possibilities for social and cultural interaction. The result is a completely unique way of thinking about hospitality and wellness.”

Studio Saxe were established in 2004, with the aim of exploring the relationship between people and their natural environments through architecture. Most recently, they completed work on a boutique hotel and yoga studio set into the tropical forest of Nosara. As with Mint, it is enveloped by lush vegetation on all sides; becoming “a jungle retreat for exercise and relaxation, with no walls, only trees.”

Costa Rica  Studio Saxe  Mint Santa Theresa  Santa Teresa  Benjamin Garcia Saxe 
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Costa Rican architects Studio Saxe have completed a hotel that steps down a steep coastal hillside, formed of a series of terraces that can be completely opened up to the elements. The firm – self-declared creators of ‘tropical architecture’ – have blended a European design aesthetic with Costa Rican craftsmanship, while opening up the building to allow the verdant landscape to invade from almost all directions. The Swedish owners of
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Costa Rican architects Studio Saxe have completed a hotel that steps down a steep coastal hillside, formed of a series of terraces that can be completely opened up to the elements / Andrés García Lachner
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