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photo of Two Olson Kundig Projects Honored with AIA Housing Awards

Two Olson Kundig Projects Honored with AIA Housing Awards


Olson Kundig is deeply grateful to share that two projects – Costa Rica Treehouse (led by design principal Tom Kundig and principal Kevin Kudo-King) and Rio House (led by design principal Tom Kundig) – have been honored with 2022 AIA Housing Awards, a program that recognizes exceptional residential design. Entries are evaluated on a wide range of considerations beyond aesthetics, including social impact and contribution to its context, building performance and resilience, and innovation. These values are evident throughout Costa Rica Treehouse and Rio House, which both feature passive systems and movable kinetic elements that allow residents to engage with the surrounding landscape while conserving natural resources.

Costa Rica Treehouse is a carbon positive home – the timber used actually sequesters more CO2 than is emitted by the other building materials – inspired by the jungle of its densely forested site on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Designed to operate passively, the home can breathe and remain open to the environment. The top and bottom floors open completely to the elements with a double-screen operable wood shutter system that allows daylight and natural ventilation, but also provides privacy and security when the owners are away.

The thoughtfully minimized program of Rio House emphasizes intimacy and efficiency. Essentially a steel-and-glass box, the house hovers above the land supported structurally by two concrete piers, one of which is a fireplace. The home is designed for natural ventilation with a roof hatch, pivot windows and retractable window walls with insect screens. The manual operation of these gizmos, as well as a solar water heating system, allow the home to function during intermittent power outages.

“Residential design is the foundation of my work, so it’s a deep honor to be recognized by the AIA Housing Awards program,” shares design principal Tom Kundig. “I’m especially grateful for the vision of each of our clients, to live simply within a dramatic landscape, and for the opportunity to explore new places and new ideas. Projects like these serve as a laboratory for exploration and experimentation and discovery – other projects in other typologies at vastly different scales are directly informed by what we learn from residential design.”

Costa Rica Treehouse, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Design Principal: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA
Principal: Kevin Kudo-King, AIA, LEED® AP
Project Architect: Martina Bendel
General Contractor: Dante Medri
Associate Architect and Structural Engineer: Daniel Sancho
Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: Energetica Soluciones y Consultoria
Gizmo Design: KB Architectural Services
Lighting Design: Niteo Lighting
Landscape Architect: Vida Design Studio

Rio House, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Design Principal: Tom Kundig, FAIA, RIBA
Project Manager / Project Architect: Edward Lalonde
Architectural Staff: Fergus Knox
Gizmo Design: Phil Turner
General Contractor: Construtora São Bento
Project Manager / Owner’s Representative: Jose Luiz Canal
Structural Engineers: MCE Structural Consultants and Mauro Jorge
Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing Engineers: WSP and GreenWatt
Landscape Architect: Isabel Duprat Landscape Architecture
Lighting Design: O- Lighting Design
Façade Consultant: Front
Steelwork: Eleve
Gizmo Design: KB Architectural Services with Phil Turner
Gizmo Fabricator: 12th Avenue Iron