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2016 MCHAP

KÄPÄCLÄJUI Indigenous Capacitation Center

Entrenos Atelier

Grano de Oro, Turrialba, Costa Rica

September 2014


Michael Smith Masis / Entrenos Atelier Alejandro Vallejo Rivas / Entrenos Atelier


Juan Tuk / Xilo (Structural Engineer ) Adolfo Mejía / Xilo (Structural Architect) Oscar Arias Leiva (Electrical and Mechanical Engineer)


Juan Carlos Aguilar Aguilar / President Indigenous Development Association Cabecar Chirripó


Ingrid Johanning


The vision of the project arises from a series of participatory design workshops with the community and subsequent validation of the proposals. These workshops were key to promoting a sense of ownership in the community when viewing and making decisions. It was the opportunity to understand and 'co-create' areas coherent with the environment and focusing on the needs of the user. The opportunities and design findings were multiple; from the qualities that define a comfortable, permeable space, ventilated, in direct contact with the environment and incorporating green areas and gardens. Moreover the materiality was also decisive and was discussed widely in the appreciation of a light and open 'shelter'; adding steep slopes arising from the tissues of suita, high spaces and local elucidations of the functional. During these design processes, Entre Nos Atelier facilitated the coordination among the different interests, and to serve as partners of architectural ideas interpreted from the users. The technical coordination construction experts (XYLO group) was also relevant, and their extensive experience with the selected material (wood) to optimize and explore beneficial technical-constructive criteria for the project. The experience both in the design phase and during construction, is internalized as the constant opportunity of awareness of the surroundings; promoted by the consent and availability of the project team, and to positively impact the community and consequent architectural identity of the project.


Käpäcläjui Training Center is located on the Indian reservation of Tayutic, Turrialba, in the province of Cartago, Costa Rica. The rapprochement between the parties arises from the community management of the Indigenous Development Association Cabecar Chirripó, the Joint Institute for Social Aid (IMAS) and Holcim Foundation of Costa Rica, who subsequently incorporated Entre Nos Atelier into the design process. It includes a training center and hostel/lodge that facilitates interaction between locals and visitors, and develops sustainable community projects in harmony with the environment. In turn, the Center is part of a strategic system of rural integration and community strengthening including roads, caves and trails. In Addition, a network of pedestrian bridges was designed to make some sections accessible at critical times of the year and can provide temporary shelter, especially during rainy season. The lack of adequate infrastructure to shelter communal facilities for locals and visitors brought the necessity to provide such place for social integration and convergence. In fact most users struggle with long-hour travel journeys and dense forest conditions to seek Tayutic center, in order to stay overnight and then to connect next day to the closest urban center. Thus the 7500 square foot center has at the same time a strategic position to provide shelter for travellers and to encompass cultural exchange from diverse backgrounds (Local and external). The space seeks a socio-contextual integration based on communal empowerment and sustainable development.


The project consists of 470 m2 distributed within a 'large linear layout' along its longitudinal axis, comprising administrative areas (offices), multipurpose rooms, dining, kitchen, restrooms, computer room, library and warehouses on the first level. In the double height of the front part it incorporates a 'mezzanine' as a area that provides temporary shelter (hostel-lodge). The environmental design considers a ground level elevation (stilts) to prevent flooding and facilitate natural water drainage. Along its main structure, lightweight elements are attached to define spatial features and flexible elements, which allow users to operate and personalize the space & envelope. Responsive and dynamic furniture within an open plan, allows different spatial arrangements varying from; wide-open, public spaces, to single private clusters rooms. Passive design strategies are underpinned along programmatic necessities to provide visual and thermal comfort in a warm-humid climate. The projects envelope provides movable modular frames for coupling interior to exterior confortable conditions when desired. Cross ventilation, open plans, adjustable to airflow partitions and external shading devices enrich the environmental performance for a free-running building. The envelope is prefabricated locally with the community utilizing laminated local wood and low-budget materials. All budget savings are invested on finishes, equipment and furniture. In addition the wood products implemented from sustainably harvested forests have a ‘negative carbon footprint’ meaning that they act as a carbon store representing 156.6 tons of carbon emissions. Ultimately all architectural intentions put into the design project, are arguing about lightweight structures, subtle transitions between interconnected spaces and direct outdoors connections.

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