Platinum Winner 2022 – No Footprint House (NFH) - Architecture Collection
Platinum Winner of the Architecture & Design Collection Awards 2022

No Footprint House (NFH)

Professional Category

Architect / Designer:

Oliver Schütte


A-01 (A Company / A Foundation)

Design Team:

Lead architect: A-01 / Oliver Schütte Design team: A-01 / José Pablo González, Mauricio Rodríguez, Misael Rodríguez, Ronald Carvajal Typology research: A-01 / Marije van Lidth de Jeude MEP engineering: Consost / Pablo Mora Structural design: Ingeniería Cañas / Rafael Cañas Construction: SLO Studiolocal / Hernán Mora Photography: Fernando Alda Fotografía / Fernando Alda Documentary: Manduca Audiovisual / Soren Pessoa, Valeria Romero


Fernando Alda


Costa Rica
The No Footprint House (NFH) is located in Ojochal, a small village at the edge of the vast tropical rain forests along the South Pacific coast of Costa Rica. Placed in a humid tropical climate, the building responds to its surrounding habitat by passive climate control through natural ventilation and solar shading. The NFH is organized around a central service core, which includes all machinery and intelligence, as well as the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry area. The compression of utilities in one compact unit enables an open floor plan all around the core. Moreover, it contributes to the building efficiency in terms of assembly, maintenance and usage. Additional furniture pieces are “plugged” into the double-layered facade, which is created by the vertical structural columns and the inclined outer enclosures. The slanted skin decreases direct impact of sunlight and precipitation to protect the elevated floorplan from overheating and splashing water. Façade panels can be opened or closed individually in order to regulate views and exposure, augment or reduce air flows, create privacy and security. They convert interior to exterior spaces and play with the dynamic among nature and the built environment, one of the key features of tropical architecture. The house in Ojochal was developed as a prototype for serial production, based on a larger toolbox of residential typologies. It was prefabricated in the Central Valley of Costa Rica and transported to the target location on one single truck. In its initial phase, the NFH comes in three different sizes that can be auto-configured with regards to the internal distribution and connections, material finishes and services: from “tiny” (36m2) to mid-size (81m2) and family home (108m2). Each building is customized from a catalogue of prefabricated components, the first of its kind in Central America. The selection of all elements and materials is based on a thorough investigation regarding origin, processing, and environmental footprint. In Ojochal, the NFH-108 was built as a floating steel structure with wooden finishes. The house contains a combined living and dining area, two bathrooms, two bedrooms and a multifunctional terrace. Its bedrooms can be enclosed through different layers of glass sliders and “curtain walls” in order to allow for changing degrees of privacy. The upper section of the building remains permanently open in order to assure cross-ventilation. Panels of mosquito netting prevent insects from entering. The house is connected to the public water and energy grid, which is powered almost entirely by renewable resources in Costa Rica. Only water is heated locally through solar power, which is harvested on top of the roof. Auto-sufficient building configurations are available for off-grid locations, as well as a completely de- and re-mountable kit of parts. The NFH is designed to blend with its natural surroundings and minimize the impact of construction on the environment. It offers a wide range of adjustable, affordable and replicable solutions to cater for a broad customer segment. The project seeks for integral sustainability in terms of its environmental, economic, social and spatial performance.

A-01 (A Company / A Foundation)

A-01 is a multidisciplinary network organization. We create integrally sustainable solutions for urban and rural development. In a globally urbanizing society, we work at the borderline of city and countryside or help identifying new synergies among the urban and the rural domain. Our work methodology is designed to break the boundaries of a single professional perspective in order to allow for a holistic approach that shapes our products. We envision a long-term impact that involves economic growth, a high-quality spatial surrounding, a responsible use of natural resources and an equal social development.

We encourage designers and architects to share their best projects with the rest of the world so as to inspire the next generation and gain global recognition.