by Jincy IypeOct 30, 2020
A set of five egg-shaped pods made with tent canvas and tropical teak form the Coco glamping villa, part of the luxurious Art Villas resort that spreads out on a tropical jungle slope in Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica. Overlooking Hermosa Beach, these cabins levitate a few meters above the steep terrain, exposed to and absorbed by lush tropical vegetation. Its architecture has been conceptualised by Archwerk studio and realised by Formafatal, both based in Czech Republic, the latter heading the entire execution and interior design of each villa in the Art Villas resort complex.
According to the studios, these luxurious nests “represent a unique example of playful, glamping, sustainable and modern tropical architecture”.
The integrated resort is planned on a 2.5 hectare site, and also comprises the lavish, concrete Art Villa and the minimal, low lying Atelier Villa, which were completed last year, and the multifunctional Wing Pavilion, also conceptualised by Archwerk.
Filip Žák, the client, requested a space that merged luxury and adventurous living within the jungle, and is built with simple solutions and local materials. For Coco, he imagined sumptuous “tree houses” that would perch on the hillside and overlook the valley below, lush greens playing peek-a-boo with the chalk white forms but never fully concealing them. He desired to create a space where visitors revel and become one with nature, are able to cleanse their minds and experience the ultimate nature infused outing. The resort design thus includes engaging activities and comfort in the form of expert cuisines, sauna, yoga, art workshops as well as fitness rooms and a spa pavilion.
The shape of each cabin is informed by a white PTFE canvas (chosen for its long-lasting feature and UV resistance) that clads a skeleton of local tropical wood and metal elements, devoid of decoration and clutter. Martin Kloda, founder of Archwerk, says that the construction of the pods, the organic, modern and rustic nature of the resort architecture and the use of unpretentious materials allow flexibility in size, shape and composition of the cabins, along with being able to tackle the complicated terrain.
Studio Formafatal links the individual pods via footbridges and stairs made of wood and expanded metal, mounted on columns of steel. Wooden decks joined to the pods become platforms to take in the views, while a trampoline is attached to one of the landings. The studio shares that these landings and footbridges have been designed in a minimal, straight manner, referencing the clean lines of the other structures on the resort.
The interior design of each Coco Villa is playful and minimally lavish. “You will not find anything unnecessary there, but at the same time nothing is missing,” says Hana Procházková, founder of Archwerk. Centre stage in each Coco is taken up by a bed with a mosquito net that rests on a raised floor part. Each cabin has been designed to take maximum advantage of the stunning surroundings. “Monkeys and toucans, apart from the boundless revitalising green of the tropical vegetation can be seen directly from the bed,” she continues.
Apart from wood and white, the bedrooms have a subtle backdrop of different colours such as fruit red, ash grey, bright cyan, teal and moss green. The bed’s headboards are created from welded wire mesh, interspersed with threads of those shades, further seen in the colours of the dressing rooms.
Elaborating on the design of the wire mesh, Dagmar Štěpánová, founder, Formafatal, says, “When I thought about a motif that would fit Coco, it evoked in me the canopy tours, which are very popular in Costa Rica. These are trails and zip lines high above the ground in the treetops and Coco are also scattered a few meters above the ground. That's why I used the motif of a climbing rope in the form of straps and coloured cords, which also brings a subtle, colourful accent to the interiors”.
Wicker furniture and local lighting features inside the largest Coco pod, which hosts a shared kitchen and dining space, with the cement screed kitchen island providing ample space for preparing meals and storing dishes. The red cabinet wall is done in the colour of mamón chinos (a tropical fruit), and includes two refrigerators, two freezers and food cabinets. The dining table continues visually from the kitchen island, “as if it just tore off. This longitudinal axis is the intention and aims at a view of the Pacific Ocean,” shares team Formafatal.
Marilou’s rattan Gigante and Palu lamps hang above the kitchen island, while Monopoint LED spot by Wac Lighting provides illumination to the rest of the spaces. Naluri’s terrazzo bathtub and rustic stone washbasins are placed inside the unscreened bathrooms with cement paved Granada Tiles that become shower panels. Marilou’s Hammock Belo Horizonte hanging chair and Tenerife Stool also find space within the pods, along with Notre Monde’s tray coffee table sets and the characteristic threaded Silla de Playa armchair and Tumbona chaise lounge by Sondaleza.
Apart from being exposed to the dense green tropical forest, the spectacular site receives rainfall for half a year mostly during evening, and becomes even more cinematic when storms hit. The cabin’s transparent white shutters protect its insides from wind and rain, while allowing daylight in.
The unique shape of the CoCo Villas is borne from an original, rational design process, according to Archwerk and Formafatal. “Its construction was an incredible experiment with wood, metal, and a special seven-layer sail that we welded on the spot. Each pod is deeply entrenched in the jungle and offers an experience reserved for the brave,” shares studio Formafatal.
“Art Villas Resort features three bold and inspiring villas, each with a distinct architectural design. I love variety, and sensed that the three brilliant architects I chose could bring my visions to life. There is a space for everyone here: Art Villa is luxury. Atelier is design. CoCo is an experience for the bold. The one unifying element is eclectic minimalism,” mentions Žák.
Name: Coco Villa
Location: Bahia Ballena, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica
Plot area: 25,000 sqm
Usable Floor Area: 140 sqm
Terraces Area: 204 sqm
Client: Filip Žák
Design: ARCHWERK (concept and architectural design) and Formafatal (interior design and exterior finishing)
Landscape architect: atelier Flera