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The level of sophistication and Architectural design in Costa Rica is up and coming. There is very little notable or impressive Costa Rican architecture of the past. However, new commercial and residential developments currently show architectural uniqueness and raise the level of sophistication in terms of engineering and design.

National monuments that draw significant recognition and attention are:

  • San Jose’s National Theater a crown jewel in architecture which is very ornate with neo-classical undertones.  Sadly, very few colonial constructions have survived.
  • Cartago’s Basilica de Los Angeles a catholic church where every girl wants to have her dream wedding and a mecca where over a million Costa Rican’s walk to each August 2nd to pay homage to the Virgin of Los Angeles.

Cities and Towns

Almost all the towns in Costa Rica are based on the same colonial idea of having a church fronted by a plaza filled with benches, and then the rest of the commercial and government building surrounding. Normally nearby there is a soccer field.  Surrounding these central plazas are the urbanizations where people live.

Churches and Architecture

In fact, the churches have the most interesting and diverse architecture of any other major buildings in the country.  Costa Rican’s take pride and care of this national heritage and keep their churches in perfect shape, along with the paintings, glass windows, and religious images and artifacts found inside. There are books and photographers who spend months and months collecting information and images of the plethora of artistic churches that exist in Costa Rica. There are some churches that are perfectly preserved and date back to the 16th century.

Houses in Costa Rica

The grand majorities of the houses in Costa Rica actually have no architectural influence and in general are not even very attractive to look at. The average Costa Rican cannot afford the luxury of having an architect create an attractive design, because more often than not what is attractive and trendy is also much more costly to build. You will see that most designs of the average house are boxy, with the houses directly next to one another and then gated all around by cement wall and iron bars. This is not due to a lack of national talent by any means.

Architects and Architecture Firms

In fact, there are hundreds of quality architects and architectural firms in the country to choose from. It is smart to interview many architects to be sure about mutual chemistry and that they are going to create a dream home for the client not their version of a dream home. Sometimes it is better to deal with an independent architect because it is more likely that they are the ones actually doing the work, not like larger firms with well known reputations but that give their work to the new guy who just graduated and later simply review it. Selecting an architect will also depend on budget and on personal likes, wants, and needs.

Ecology and Architecture

The newest trend however has been in the area of eco-development, where architect’s creativity is put to the test. The new wave of eco-architecture has been sweeping the new large developments and people’s personal luxury home market by storm mainly because Costa Rica is such an ecologically important country in the global scheme and in this new wave of worldwide Green Development.  Now, architects are not only expected to create appealing and functional designs, they are also asked to take into consideration the curve of the mountain, the ridge of the cliff, the angle of the ocean, and  the trunks of the trees.

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