Located near the popular Costa Rican tourist town of Tamarindo amid lush vegetation and close to the Pacific Ocean, this villa stands out for its setting and powerful sense of place. The area is renowned for its splendid landscapes, its crystal clear sea with crashing waves and miles of white sandy beaches such as Playa Tamarindo, Playa Langosta and Playa Grande, its mangrove forests that stretch down to the shoreline and are populated by howler monkeys, a sometimes tempestuous river that is home to giant American crocodiles, and the wild Marino Las Baulas National Park. Similarly, the local landscape conceals many splendid examples of houses built from local materials using simple, traditional construction techniques. Designing a home that would assert its architectural presence without disturbing this miniature Eden and at the same time taking account of local lifestyles was a far from simple challenge. „The basic concept behind the design of Villa Allegra (as the building is called) is to reconcile Costa Rican cultural and environmental references with my architectural training,“ explains Riccardo Ramberti, an architect from Italy’s Romagna region with a neomodernist background who counts Richard Meier among his influences. „The concept explores the contrast between a contemporary style and traditional Costa Rican architecture and my attempt to find a harmonious balance between the two. The solution I chose was based on two criteria. The first was the use of traditional local materials with natural finishes such as concrete, stone, exotic wood surfaces and metal, thereby creating large spaces with a modern design in terms of form and layout. The second criterion was to create a profound connection between the building and the surrounding landscape. As far as possible, I wanted to blur the distinction between interior and exterior, to establish a kind of fluid perceptive continuity. I used two different elements to achieve this. The first consisted of the large sliding glass doors which allow the landscape to penetrate inside the home like a kind of fourth dimension. These doors can simply be opened to remove the barrier between the indoor and outdoor spaces and then closed again when necessary. The other element is the ivory-coloured porcelain floor slabs from Florim’s Floortech 1.0 line in a 60×120 cm size which were installed both inside and outside the house and, to further enhance the sense of continuity, in the large infinity pool in front of the villa’s living room.“
Standing on this ceramic platform, the building itself is organised on two levels, the ground-floor living area and the upper floor sleeping area. The carefully balanced juxtaposition of volumes gives the complex a light, articulated look with a contemporary design enhanced by formal aspects of Costa Rican colonial architecture with a distinctive Hispanic heritage. This sequence of inspirations is reflected in the alternation of white plastered stone and natural concrete walls, slatted wood ceilings, canopies and sunscreens, and metal elements such as the terrace railings and the dark frames of the sliding glass doors and windows. Well spaced-out to convey a sense of reassuring tranquillity, the indoor and outdoor furnishings were entirely custom designed and produced by Italian companies for use in a tropical climate, including extensive use of teak and lacquered wood. All the finishing materials, furnishing accessories, antique-look brass taps and fittings and lighting fixtures were also made in Italy. Local art and craft objects have been carefully positioned in the various rooms in another subtle reference to the Costa Rican way of life and the profound connection between Villa Allegra and Tamarindo.