“As architects, we work to transform clients’ dreams into a functional reality. This is our approach for the Morro Chico Ranch in Costa Rica. From the first outline to the final design drawings, it was an experience of artistic creation that was both demanding and satisfying.”
Richter Dahl Rocha & Associates (RDR Architectes) designed the Estancia Morro Chico ranch in Argentina‘s Santa Cruz province near the border of Chile. The project is located in the wind-swept region of Patagonia, which is shared by both countries and has a mostly cold and humid climate year-round.
The complex is a gated community of single-level villas on 43 acres, with a communal area at its centre which includes two pools and recreational areas. With sustainability as our goal, Morro Chico Ranch provides housing for low-income families who have migrated from Central America in search of work in Costa Rica‘s capital city of San Jose in the aftermath of recent natural disasters. We were motivated to provide a functional space for the community through the creation of interconnected structures that encourage social interaction and promote the needs of each family, both inside and out.
One of the central motifs for this project was the idea of lightness and utmost articulation, the use of timber framing that allowed design flexibility, evolving from one idea to another. In this way, we explored a wide range of possibilities over multiple stages, tying it all together with an attention to details that will help one experience Morro Chico Ranch as a whole. This approach helps create a sense of purposeful cohesiveness within the complex.
The design was developed in three phases:
(1) the initial detailed design,
(2) construction documentation and planning, and
(3) on-site construction. We used an interdisciplinary team to help us complete and meet the project’s deadlines. The site is located in the foothills of a volcanic range, with views of both ocean and mountains. It has a natural flow that we wanted to create through horizontal forms that embrace light and airiness. The result is vertical planes that are organized into two levels for circulation between buildings while allowing outdoor spaces to connect as well.
One of the notable improvements was the introduction of clean and renewable energy generation systems, which was achieved through the introduction of solar panels and wind turbines, as well as the use of a wood-burning boiler made with wood from the surrounding forests. partly operated with bottled gas and replaces the old use of charcoal from the neighbouring Río Turbio resources.
The layout of the complex is based on the model of a compact village, which is characteristic of the ranches in the region, in which functional buildings and apartment blocks are grouped to protect themselves from the harshness of the climate and to create comfortable places in the Patagonian desert. Region and addresses the same logistical problems and local resource shortages that existed at the time. The concept of alternative energy, i.e. the heated buildings, new or existing, were insulated—all clad with the same corrugated iron and with the same appearance, thus unifying the external appearance of the entire place.
The defined variations were the contrasts in the materials used, between the warmth of the wood that prevails inside (and which is appreciated in different amounts from the outside) and the hardness of the corrugated iron, which characterizes the external appearance.
The Estancia La Rosa is a flagship in our endeavours to find the perfect balance between tradition and modernity, a combination of sustainable cattle breeding with renewable energies from the Garayalde wind farm, for this they have modernized the entire estancia, starting with the entire water system to the Animals in the Best Way Installation of a pump and solar panel system to complement traditional mills, a fence plan was implemented to improve sheep management, sheep grading and low maintenance animals, always focusing on both animals and natives.
Animal Welfare (Responsible Wool Standard – RWS Certification) and recently started a comprehensive management approach to the grasslands to regenerate our ecosystem by using the results of land management through EOV (Ecological Outcome Verification) of the Renovar 1.0 program of the Argentine Ministry of Energy, they developed a 24 MW wind farm to diversify the income and show that there is a way to use existing resources. (like the wind) positive Start of wind farm production.
Atlas Morro Chico Ranch is the fruit of a collaboration between the AHR architects and the top architects and landscape designers from Costa Rica, who provided their expertise in building materials, site planning and construction. Morro Chico Ranch as a whole is not only about architecture. It’s about how the individual buildings relate to each other, including how they fit into the setting’s natural flow. This is what makes it so interesting to those who know little about architecture, as well as those who have no idea when we meet them at Morro Chico Ranch. It all depends on how you perceive the place.