Venture Inside This Eco-Conscious Home in Costa Rica

Rainy season in Nosara, Costa Rica, stretches for seven months. The climate, with its inexorable humidity and salt air, wreaks havoc on building materials and quotidian staples like rugs and books. Termites and ants are constantly on the march, and the power grid occasionally goes down. Reshma Patel and her husband, Christian Rudder, a cofounder of the online dating site OkCupid, know all about the struggle. In 2020, the couple decamped from New York City to Costa Rica with their daughter, Plum, for what was initially meant to be a one-year sojourn. But the Edenic landscape proved irresistible, and the family decided to put down roots. “We wanted to learn how to live in harmony with nature, so we decided that we were going to be okay with the ants and power outages and all the rest,” Patel says. “It’s a really brave thing to build a home in the jungle,” she adds. “You can try to keep it at bay, but the jungle always finds a way in.”

Christian Rudder, Reshma Patel, and daughter Plum in the kitchen. Architecture by Years with Garnier Arquitectos. Michael van Beuren barstools by Luteca, Lou Castillo vase, and floor, wall, and island tile throughout by Alchemy Materials.

To realize their vision of equatorial domestic bliss, Patel and Rudder engaged Tyler Polich and Jessica Jimenez Keenan of the recently launched Los Angeles design studio Years, along with local architect Jean Andre Garnier of Garnier Arquitectos. Polich (whose résumé includes the AD100 firms Diller Scofidio + Renfro, The Archers, and Bjarke Ingels Group) and Jimenez Keenan (an alumna of Elizabeth Roberts Architects and Studio Shamshiri) originally met the homeowners in New York while working on projects for Patel’s erstwhile Williamsburg jewelry boutique Quiet Storms. “We immediately clicked with Tyler and Jessica, and we wanted to carry forward all the trust and fun we had,” Patel recalls.

Early touchstones for the architecture of the home included signature projects by the likes of Luis Barragán, Lina Bo Bardi, Héctor Barroso, and Bijoy Jain—designers accustomed to building in similarly sultry climates. “We looked at a lot of Brutalist modern fortresses in Mexico, and we liked the materiality of concrete and wood, which have a kind of warmth and texture in contrast to a lot of the modern architecture in Nosara,” Rudder explains. Polich seconds the notion, describing the design of the house—with its cast-in-place concrete barrel vaults, hand-chiseled stone, terra-cotta breeze-block screens, tile floors, and planes of teak—in terms of “soulful, earthy, heavy tectonics.” In regard to the concrete work in particular, Polich remains sanguine: “You have to lean into the rustic quality. This was never going to be a Tadao Ando project.”

Although the interior appointments cast a wide net—consider the 19th-century French wrought-iron chandelier and vintage Paul McCobb chairs in the dining area—the many Latin American artists and artisans represented underscore the house’s unique sense of place. Custom pieces designed by Years and fabricated in Costa Rica reinforce the primacy of the handmade and the local. There’s the capacious cedar-and-lacquer storage unit—essentially a mudroom encapsulated in a cabinet—which sits at the entry; the dining table of pieced slabs of green and blue quartzite and yellow onyx; the primary bedroom headboard composed of teak, cedar, purpleheart, and guanacaste woods; and other impressive bespoke creations.

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