Project Teahouse

Building an oceanside Costa Rican home that embraces the thought that prizes humility and austerity and finds beauty in imperfection.

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Ten years ago, I discovered & fell in love with a small town in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica
Playa Guiones
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I learned to surf there
Playa Guiones
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My daughters swam her first lap there
Playa Guiones
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And where they started to ride waves
Playa Guiones
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It’s also where I met one of my best friends in the world, Ru
Playa Guiones
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I was lucky enough to have a hand in helping Ru build the best surf school in the world
Surf Simply
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And Ru constructed a beautiful resort for Surf Simply
Surf Simply
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After 10 years of looking for the perfect lot, Ru gave me a call and told me he found one. It’s a 4 minute walk to surf.
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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Bonus is it is literally right beside Ru’s own dream lot
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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We immediately asked Roberto, the project manager who built the resort, to lead our project. Ru & I are using the same architect, contractor and crew to gain some economies of scale. Plus, it’s more fun to build together
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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I knew I wanted to build a home that is just enough. A thought & design that prizes humility and austerity and finds beauty in imperfection.
Fundación Casa Wabi
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I was always inspired by Casa Wabi, the arts foundation in Oaxaca, Mexico that was designed by one of my heroes, the architect, Tadao Ando
Fundación Casa Wabi
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I took a pilgrimage to the art island of Naoshima to see, feel and touch Tadao Ando’s work
Naoshima Island
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I was inspired by Tadao Ando’s pioneering use of concrete form work
Benesse House Hotel Oval Building
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Tadao Ando allows his structures to flow and conform to nature
Benesse House Hotel Oval Building
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The first designs from the architect were beautiful but just not right. I did not want a house that could be at home in Malibu, Chiba or Singapore. I wanted one that was designed specifically for our town and our land.
Playa Guiones
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I sat in a local restaurant and hand drew the layout of the home I wanted. I grew up in Asia and have always wanted a courtyard home where the soul of the home is right in the middle of it
The Harmony Hotel
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And I also laid out the 3 ethos of the home: (1) Give me a home that is just enough, (2) That will embrace the imperfections, patina & humility that comes with living in a tropical jungle by the ocean, and (3) Respects the colloquial Tico architecture & way of living with the land.
Playa Guiones
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I was especially inspired by Tadao Ando’s use of Mexico’s traditional paha roof with his signature concrete.
Fundación Casa Wabi
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Especially his use of the traditional Mexican paha roof, made out of dried palm leaves which allows air circulation
Fundación Casa Wabi
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We finally broke ground
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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With a clear vision. It’s a courtyard vacation home, inspired by the austerity of Japanese teahouses and Casa Wabi’s use of paha and concrete.
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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The key to the design is getting a symmetrical, clean, modern roof structure to juxtapose the organically wild palapa roof material
Guiones Beach Club - Guard House
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It took us about 4 months to find a supply of locally harvested teak wood that were long enough to run our entire roofline without any breaks. And, we had to allow the teakwood to cure for another 3 months.
1 Guiones Beach Club
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It was an incredibly exciting and emotional day when the local craftsmen arrived to put up the first section of the palapa roof
1 Guiones Beach Club
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View of the front door from the inside of the rancho
1 Guiones Beach Club
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The front door lanai
1 Guiones Beach Club
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The courtyard
1 Guiones Beach Club
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View to one of the two teahouses which double as bedrooms
1 Guiones Beach Club
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The roof came together better than I ever imagined.
1 Guiones Beach Club
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The tension between organic & modern, palm & concrete, wood & cement
1 Guiones Beach Club
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It’s fascinating and rewarding to see all the micro decisions we made during the design process come to life. From the tiles for the pool to the concrete pathways.
1 Guiones Beach Club
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Front door fabricated out of high gauge steel that will be left to patina and rust
1 Guiones Beach Club