Kasiiya Papagayo is not any run-of-the-mill resort. It not only offers a chance to escape a hectic lifestyle and connect with Nature but also goes a step further to redefine sustainable tourism by having zero impact on the environment.
Located on the northwest coast of Costa Rica, Kasiiya is designed to be a part of Nature. It is designed by France based practice, AW² led by Reda Amalou and Stéphanie Ledoux. The team wanted to conserve the tropical rainforest and use only natural material in order to leave no scar on its landscape. Positioned amidst 123 acres of wild terrain, this rainforest lodge is going against the norm of maximizing built-up area; instead it is minimizing its footprint. The architects wanted to establish a sense of community and creating small pockets of tented accommodation helped achieve that while preserving the environment.
AW² explains, "The client provided a clear brief for a boutique eco-lodge where the design should merge, should disappear into the surrounding Nature without damaging it. AW²'s concept stems from the idea that there should be no frontier between architecture and the surrounding wilderness, between the inside and the outside."
The design imitates a village set up, made up of cluster of tents, built without cutting down a single tree and without the use of concrete and nails. This planning strategy allowed choosing the location of tents carefully and letting Nature reign supreme in other areas. The guests can fully immerse themselves in bespoke tents built using natural materials and blur the boundary between the inside and outside.
Once inside, the camping mindset continues, with the use of local wood for structure and interiors. The use of earthy tones and natural colour palettes inside the tents help the guests continue the immersive feeling of being in Nature.
"The client wanted to create a hotel that would allow the guests to be as close to Nature as they felt comfortable. The project was to be environmentally-focused with the possibility to leave the land without a trace," said AW².
Several sustainable strategies are behind Kasiiya Papagayo, helping it achieve its goal of zero environmental impact. The tent design uses a timber structure fixed on top of ground screws, with no concrete foundations. This construction technique did not require any earth excavation, and the natural topography remains untouched. The screw piles are designed to be removed from the ground with zero impact, and services are hidden in the landscape above the ground. The layout plans are adapted to existing topography and tree location and demountable timber frame tent structure for all building to avoid further modifying the existing landscape.
AW² continues, "Kasiiya is a discrete invitation to question our sedentary civilization, a return to simple pleasures. This eco-concept removes the seasoned luxury travellers from their comfort zone and succinctly resumes the project's grounding philosophy: appreciate the earth without consuming it."
The resort operates on 100% solar power and proposes small interventions to reduce its operative energy further. The design minimizes electrical appliances inside the tent and replaces them with bespoke cooler boxes designed by AW². Most of the resort's built-up areas allow the maximum use of natural ventilation, and the air conditioning use is limited to the sleeping area inside the tents. The resort composts all organic waste, and all other waste is taken off-site for recycling or treatment.
Kasiiya Papagayo offers an immersive experience into the rich natural landscape that Costa Rica offers. Its design shows a new dimension, forging new relationships between architecture and nature.
Project name: Kasiiya Papagayo
Completion Year: 2018
Gross Built Area: 2000m²
Project Location: Costa Rica, Guanacaste province
Project Type: Eco-Lodge
Architect and interior designer: AW²
Design Team: Reda Amalou and Stéphanie Ledoux, Partners
Structural engineer: LCM
Tent fabric: Canvas and Tent Manufacturing
Tent structures and fixed furniture: Procurement of wood from local Costa Rican wood trading companies
Platforms: Timber frame coated in red Brazilian cherry wood
Photo Credits: Sergio Pucci & Pierre Baëlen
AW² is an international architecture and design studio based in Paris.
Reda Amalou graduated from the University of East London and founded the agency in 1997. Stéphanie Ledoux, a graduate from the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, joined AW² in 2000 and became a partner in 2003. The two partners have led the studio in tandem ever since and play an active role in the architectural design of each project.
With projects in 40 different countries, the agency has an international reputation for quality high-end design. The studio covers all project typologies including hospitality, education, commercial and residential.