No Footprint House (NFH)

Topics: Sustainable and inclusive cities and buildings, Sustainable lifestyles and education
Keywords: bioclimatic architecture, toolbox, flexibility, user friendliness

Oliver Schütte

A-01, Costa Rica;

Dealing with natural resources in a responsible way is crucial for managing the problematics related to human settlement, energy use and the built environment in order to promote an integrally sustainable development. The No Footprint House (NFH) aims at contributing to such agenda; it is designed to provide a comfortable lifestyle in the Central American Tropics.

The building design is a low-tech response to the extreme climate and site conditions. Different spatial configurations, building sizes and material combinations can be assembled based on the NFH kit of parts. This component-based design allows for a maximum level of flexibility, while maintaining the project principles in terms of engineering, economic, environmental and social concerns.

The individual spaces or ‘zones’ in an overall open plan floor are grouped around a pre-fabricated compact service and storage core, which is the functional heart of the building. Based on user preference, a diversified set of additional furniture plugs can be placed along the inclined facades, providing additional storage, closet or office units.

The NFH is defined by its spacious roof overhangs and operable facade elements, which enable natural ventilation and shading based on the specific site parameters. Wastewater is being treated through a biological filtration system that returns grey water back to the house. When traveling, the inhabitants leave behind a hermetic wedge-shaped box that continues to live in terms of solar heat and rainwater collection.

Besides its low ecological footprint in terms of materials used, the NFH is completely de- and reconstructable in order to truly minimize its impact on the environment at affordable cost. The first prototype will go on site in Ojochal, Costa Rica: the NFH-108 will be located along the Southern Pacific Coast. Further explorations of the NFH toolbox are planned for mid-2016 with the construction of the NFH-81 and the NFH-36.


Oliver Schütte graduated as an architect / urbanist in Aachen (Germany). After working with Eisenman Architects and the sculptor Richard Serra in New York (U.S.A.) in 1997 / 1998, he joined Rem Koolhaas / OMAMO for a six year period in Rotterdam (Netherlands). Accomplished projects include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe as well as the New Dutch Embassy in Berlin (Germany), which won the Mies van der Rohe Price in 2005. Oliver worked on the McCormick Tribune Campus Center at the Illinois Institute of Chicago (U.S.A.), the House in Bordeaux (France), the Masterplan for the City of Breda (Netherlands) and the Preservation Plan for Beijing (China), amongst others.

Oliver is specialized in climate dependent architecture and urban design, he is currently developing projects in Europe and Latin America. His works and writings have been published internationally; he is engaged in numerous academic activities at universities worldwide, including the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux (France), the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Managua (Nicaragua), the University of Houston and the New York Institute for Technology (U.S.A.), as well as the Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad Latina and the Universidad Veritas (Costa Rica). In 2014, Oliver was appointed through the Costa Rican Ministry of Culture as the commissioner and chief curator of the first ever Costa Rican national pavilion at the Architecture Biennale in Venice.

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