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2018 MCHAP.emerge

Silver Nest

John Osborne Odio

La Guacima, Costa Rica

April 2016


John Osborne


John Osborne


David Osborne


Fernando Alda John Osborne


The primary objective was to create healthy and high quality living conditions for the client and his soon to be family. The larger objective was to create a healthy and high quality living prototype for starting families from low income brackets. These objectives where set by the budget and the scale of the project. The budget was set at what in Costa Rica is considered "social interest housing" coming around $33.00psf and. Size was defined by the client's financial budget $30.000.00. Another objective was to develop a kit of parts of sorts for fabrication where the steel structure, metal sheets, gypsum boards, and wood where adjusted to the sizes and dimensions they are sold in. This allowed for less waste in materials, less times to adjust and install, and as a result the design was accommodated to the dimensions of the parts. The interior was well insulated from the heat transferring properties of the steel and was envisioned as a wood nest within a silver nest. The clients daughter was soon to be born so we left the two bedrooms connected and built a mezzanine under the existing roof that was to her scale. Another objective of the house was for it to grow with the family so when their daughter grew and used her own room, the bathroom door would be eliminated and doors would be included in the bedrooms. Once she outgrew the mezzanine-play room, it would be used for laying down to watch TV or house guests.


John Osborne Bushby is a farmer and had an existing 60m2 tin roof for storing wood built on a side of his agricultural farm. I was to retrofit a house for his son David's soon to be family as he and his girlfriend where expecting the birth of their daughter. We had 4 months to design, build, meet the budget, and accommodate a newborn. The budget was set at $30,000.00 and we came in at $33,000.00. With such a constrained budget we chose the same materials, which would be referred to in the area, as materials used "by the poor". We balanced this decision with a high standard for the quality of space, performance, and beauty when using these materials. A prototype for housing with a social purpose. It was more than anything an exercise in shooting straight. We found that cheap materials had great quality in themselves when understood. Tin heats up quickly and cools down just as quickly. You could say it has poor thermal performance. Contrary to the above, we found materials are not poor in themselves, there are only poor relationships. In the end the house was the result of our best attempt at creating something whole or wholesome. What could be the result of doing what needs to be done, done right? This is a larger question and well suited to the practice of architecture. Isabella is growing and playing in this house but mostly doing so in the farm.


At the moment the clients have been living in the house for almost two years. The house has exceeded expectations. It is cool and breezy all year round and it has a strong relationship with the surrounding farm. The client's daughter has not yet used the mezzanine or fully moved out of the clients room and currently roams around the farm. Within its context the house has produced mixed responses. Some people love its price tag and its materiality while others are less enamored by the idea of living in "tin". After the results of this house the client, his father, and myself have begun to draw and construct another house on the edge of the farm as a social interest housing prototype of 500sf. It will also be a two bedroom house and aims to be a prototype for the smallest housing type for "social interest housing" as defined by the costarican government. It is being conceived and built under the same intent and driving directives established by silver nest house and is a Segue into further developing the fundamental problem of what is actually poor or what is only poorly built or poorly conceived. So far silver nest house stands as model for rural country side small housing within its context and currently has inspired the development of a "rurban" 500sf housing solution on the West edge of the farm belonging to the client's father.

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