The Living Machine

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Concept Design, Design Development, Climatic Analysis, Solar Passive Design, Permaculture

The Living Machine is a concept design of a single dwelling for the Para La Gente Permaculture Development. The house is solar passive and self sufficient, considering architecture as not only form, shaped by climatic analysis, but also a function to help facilitate cooling. Our tropical climate allows us a great freedom in architecture that is not possible in many parts of the world. Here, we are able to explore the reduction of architecture to a minimal shelter, allowing us to enjoy and experience our environment. A shelter may simply be a roof to shield the sun or a wall to protect from strong winds. The experiences derived from a building that facilitates and encourages interaction with the environment create an instinctive awareness and appreciation for our surroundings. We prefer carefully considered design principles such as building orientation, informed by solar and climate analysis, plan and section, materiality, insulation and manual adjustments to the building skin rather than mechanical cooling. The Living Machine employs basic strategies informed by solar analysis. Thermal mass through the use of green roofs and natural walls to capture and store cold to be released throughout the day, insulation to deect solar radiation, grey water treatment and cycling for passive cooling, bioregionally appropriate materials and construction techniques to create comfortable dwellings that are a joy to inhabit and are not reliant on mechanical cooling. The house is conceived as a place for living, that is itself, alive.