Tropical Ecologies
research project, ongoing since 2011
Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Principal Investigator: Tobias Holler, HOLLER architecture
Tropical Ecologist: Jeffrey Klemens, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania

Tropical Ecologies is a multi-disciplinary research project, situated within the challenging climate of the tropical dry forest ecosystem of Northwestern Costa Rica.

The objective is to investigate Biomimicry’s potential to inspire climate responsive architectural design strategies. Biomimicry allows designers to create intelligent and sustainable design solutions through the emulation of nature. What can architects learn from natural organisms that have developed extraordinary adaptations to resource-constrained environments and how can this knowledge be used to design buildings for these environments?

Costa Rica’s tropical dry forest is well suited for this research due to its extreme climate variations – it turns from a lush forest during the rainy season to a leafless desert in the dry season. Its species display extraordinary adaptations in their systems of water conservation, resource capture, and growth form allowing them to persist in this environment.


Tropical Dry Forest - Rainy Season, 
photo by Mark Bruinsma