Country Day School

Location: Alajuela, Costa Rica


Stantec (SHW Group)
Trey Laird, AIA
Luis Ayala AIA
Taryn Kinney, AIA
Gilda Ketterer, Raul Piñol, AIA

Architect of record:
Garnier Arquitectos

 Renders: Ramy Hanna (Tiltpixel)         

Date: Oct 2013 - Aug 2016

The COUNTRY DAY SCHOOL, founded in 1963, is a private, English-language, PK-12 school. The purpose and standards are comparable to selective U.S. independent and college-preparatory schools. Outdated, under-sized facilities and site limitations were the impetus to create a new campus in Alajuela, just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. 

New facilities offer great opportunity for learning yet at the risk of losing authenticity and community ties that had developed over the last fifty years. Parents and school administrators mandated that we not only respect the Costa Rica climate but also the CDS community values. Observing nation-wide goals of being the first carbon-neutral country by 2020, the school design was conceived as a Net-Zero Ready building from the initial design stages. 

The project is based on taking advantage of Costa Rica’s benevolent weather, allowing all rooms to open directly to the exterior, utilizing passive ventilation, and extending learning opportunities to generous outdoor, covered spaces. A central quad provides a school-wide campus identity non-existent in their current campus and organizes all of the smaller communities. Four different houses-Early Childhood, Elementary School, Middle School and High School-are placed on the site respecting topography, vegetation, day lighting and cross ventilation patterns. Each house embraces its own courtyard which becomes the central forum for the community and activities within.