Intrigued by the design and architectural solutions in green building of Finca Exotica, we interviewed Markus, owner and architect of this ecolodge on the edge of Corcovado Park.
The inspiration for design comes from travels around the world and journeys into books.
I’ve seen a lot of designs in tropical realities, but if you’;re an architect you’re looking for something new or different. I’ve built experimental buildings here, I’ve done them for the first time. It’s a pleasure to design and make something new, and also creative structural solutions.
The structures are designed to bring people together. This creates sharing and connection.
I like mixing transitions between inside and outside, to offer a more interesting experience, the passage is not clear, but it’s a slip inside.
The first building is closer to squared modern thinking, but then they changed their way. As they lived and built, they experimented and grew. Recent structures are more vibrational and emotional.
I’m much more focused on how something will be experienced and not on how it looks, taking care of things to receive satisfaction over time from what you care.
THE FURNITURE: NO IKEA HERE!
All the furniture is made here by themselves, except for a couple of chairs. They did not like the idea of having 30 identical chairs.
We did the first 12, then we started to change. It was an in process evolution. Everything has an identity, I avoid every kind of design and industrial structure, just some recycled lamps. An environment that is home-made does not have to be precise, something industrial is something that everyone can have.
The lifestyle here and the philosophy behind it also leads us to a reflection on the internet and technology.
Technology has provided us with very powerful tools, but its effects on human happiness are overrated and misunderstood. As part of the experience of being here, we want people to rest from these tools. Less wifi and more connection.
BASIC ARCHITECTURAL PRINCIPLES
1. Small footprints. Every human intervention on the planet creates an imbalance. We must float on the ground, avoiding invasive interventions.
2. Reduce the use of cement. It is a heavy material that impacts too much on the environment. Our structures rest on wooden beams. Here we have 4 types of wood and one of these is extremely resistant over time: a wood that resists the climate and immersion in the ground, but destined to return naturally to the earth.
The wood should not rest on the concrete because it absorbs moisture and acidity, and rots. We prefer to rest it on the stone.
3. Reduce the use of wood as much as possible. The following principle is preferred.
4. Use bamboo. It grows easily and we have it on the spot. More sustainable than wood.
5. Ventilation, no dead angles and no cavities. Angles in which the air does not arrive or empty spaces between closed surfaces generate stagnant humidity: this hurts materials and health.
This principle should be respected not only in the tropical climate, but everywhere.
A first prevention system is to choose the right moment to cut the bamboo: better at night, a few days after the full moon and after the dry season.
The logs to cut are marked with a spray by day and cut at night.
The plant cut goes in emergency and a white powder is generated inside.
If you cut it and leave it there a few days and then clean it and store it, the animals and insects are no longer interested in bamboo.
How to protect
In this tropical climate, these materials must be protected from sun and water. The only treatment we do is linseed oil and turpentine.
We must not fall into the trap of wanting to protect with layers and layers of varnishes. In the tropical climate you can not do anything about it: during the year the water saturates all the materials (even if protected) and when the temperatures drop you must give the possibility to the water to exit; if not it remains inside and pushes.
The walls too must breathe, perhaps with mineral substances.
Any other paint, acrylic or other is madness for the wall.
This indian-style roof!
The roofs are made of leaves, what was once a poor material of the locals. It is now used on Eco-Lodge. The larger the roof, the more it must be vertical. It is very expensive and takes a long time.
You must be quick to do the work until the leaf is fresh. It also requires special permits.
The roof takes over the buildings of the Indians.
There is a precise study and a personal architectural interpretation of a traditional form of the place.
To conserve it, a natural fungicide is used, a natural infusion sprayed on the roof 3 times a year: gavillana and black madero.
Markus took part physically in the realization, together with the workers. Few people know how to make roofs like these.
Unfortunately this art is disappearing.
There was also a person with naval experience for knots; they hold most of the bamboo structures using 16 different types of nodes.
From the drawing we passed everything in the autocad and we had the 3D model, so we knew all the precise dimensions.We also created a scale model with drawings, sticks, strips, to have the real impression.
ELECTRICITY AND RESOURCES
The Ecolodge Finca Exotica has a small hydroelectric plant and a photovoltaic plant.
They are off-grid and charge batteries.
When it rains and there is no sun, there is water.
April and May are a bit more difficult, but they have decided to invest even more on solar.
Batteries are very difficult to handle due to temperatures and other issues that are not eco-friendly.
ll take the old batteries and panels to the laundry and upgrade the rest.
In fact, the panels do not make that much because of the high temperatures. There is the sun, but paradoxically, the efficiency is reduced if you go out of a certain temperature range, and drops 600W, instead of over 1000W.
These technologies are very expensive also because they are imported, but good progress is being made and they are a good compromise.