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Arboreal Platform


The design for the headquarters of the Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Cordillera Volcánica Central (Fundecor) in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí, Costa Rica is appropriately located in the midst of a forest. The non-profit organization aims to “contribute to sustainable management of natural resources and improve quality of life” in rainforest regions. Accordingly, the knowledge center will inform its users about the management of woodlands and the benefits to develop an economy dependent on forestry services, while promoting environmental conservation. 

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Entitled Arboreal Platform, the project is organized on an elevated podium that hovers above the ground and is surrounded by trees. Four buildings on the platform frame a central courtyard. The entire structure is made of wood and covered by a roof using panels made of recycled aluminum milk packages. Internal climate comfort is provided by a low-cost combination of passive and active systems, including the use of grey water for the sanitation system.

Progress: The use of wooden structures are practically lost and forgotten in Costa Rica, actual construction methods are based upon covered steel skeletons or concrete-based elements with a poor or absent environmental conscience. This new platform structure will illustrate that it is possible to rethink the use of wood as a model of vernacular innovation, applying standard techniques with local certified forestry timber.

People: One of the principal objectives of the center is to involve, inform and share with people the benefits of developing a sustainable economy based on forestry services while promoting environmental conservation and a sustainable lifestyle in equal measure. The center will be the place to bond community and forestry, based on a synergic relation. It projects in its materialization a platform of exchange and encounter accessible to all.

Planet: The project takes advantage of being in an elevated position, providing a low-cost combination of passive and active systems for internal climate comfort. Used water is reincorporated in bathroom flush systems and sanitary waste is linked to biodigestors that provide fertilizer for use in the forest. The wooden structure is modulated according to nearby sawmill standards and technically designed to be easily-assembled by a rural contractor. All wood used will be the product of their forestry management and is certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), living up to the Fundecor’s mission.

Prosperity: Fundecor has been a pioneer organization in Latin America for the positioning of forestry as a sustainable and responsible economic activity, and at the same time giving value to the forestry ecosystem. The timber and economic funds that will be used for the center are an example of how responsible management can be translated into physical resources.

Place: The position of the project takes advantage of the available site topography and takes care to minimize the building’s impact on the ground. The design response is materialized into an elevated wooden structure based on the logic of settlement used for generations around the site. The position is subtle; crowning a hill and showing its presence as a land monitor that protects – both literally and metaphorically – the forest.

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