Designing in Paradise: From a Distance

Villa Serena, Península Papagayo, Costa Rica – SARCO Architects – – Image copyright Andres Garcia Lachner –

Clients often look at distance as a roadblock, but it doesn’t have to be. Designing in Paradise does not need to be hard, it all depends on who you’re working with.

Let’s talk about Rudy, Casa Magayon, and… some pretty umbrellas.

Rudy is one of our most esteemed clients. Casa Magayon took a total of 3 years to design and build. Still, the process went very smoothly, resulting in the paradise that Rudy and his family come to enjoy time and time again. Rudy chose Costa Rica, a land of rugged coasts, lush jungle forests, and friendly people.

Being on the same page as our clients

Our online, customizable web platform lets us create private workspaces for each project – allowing clients to log in from their computer, iPad, or phone. Compartmentalized containers organize meetings, selections, design, and change orders. For example, to make decisions on plumbing fixtures, you click to see it, review options, discuss issues, make selections, and… “Approved, perfecto, thank you!”

We avoid hundreds of emails back and forth. With a repository of all the discussions, it’s easy to find everything. Easy and effective communication is one of the core elements of our SARCO System®.

Casa Magayon_Sarco Architects Costa Rica - Designing in Paradise

How did Rudy feel about this? One time, we were discussing the selection of high-end umbrellas to create a shade for the terrace of the house. They are exceptional umbrellas, made in New Zealand, designed to stay open in 95-mph winds. These umbrellas have a swivel base and rotate so that wind won’t blow them over. We had an online discussion about the color – they need to match the custom tile we specified for the swimming pool. We considered, what color would the water be? What color of fabric do we want for an excellent complement?

Casa Magayon_Sarco Architects Costa Rica - Designing in Paradise

What makes this so interesting? This discussion about umbrellas happened when it was around midnight for me. Rudy was on a transcontinental flight, and his son was in London. Here we were all chiming in at once on the decision-making … live and in a completely unplanned manner. Within 10-15 minutes, we had a decision and were good to go. The umbrellas would be turquoise, square, and perfect to complement the pool. When they weren’t in use, they could be folded and put in their custom protective sleeves. We decided this live and far away from each other — very cool!

Casa Magayon_Sarco Architects Costa Rica

The “going with someone local” mentality

Most people, especially Americans, gravitate to an architect nearby to the project site. For example, in California, if an architect works in Sacramento, they are not going to look to him for a house in San Diego. The U.S. is so big that people are used to working with someone local. Small countries work entirely differently. For example, in Costa Rica, local architects, especially those in beach or rural areas, are “getting by.” Still, they are usually not at the level of the professional that you expect. If you hire a local, then often, that’s when you hear “the work is so bad.” There are a few good locals, but not necessarily good on an international level.

Internationally recognized award winners

We work at a level of international firms, we just happen to be from Costa Rica. We just happen to be an eight-time international design award-winning architectural firm from Costa Rica.

Casa Magayon_Sarco Architects Costa Rica

In that context, we’ve found that the secret to designing in paradise and working with our clients from a distance is to develop a system tailored to work remotely with international clients. Part of that system is to work with a process that incorporates client communication and interaction that is seamless and easy to use. The SARCO System® allows us to do just that and create your ultimate luxury sanctuary in paradise, no matter where you are. Designing in Paradise is no longer just a dream. We are here to make it a reality.

Discover how Roderick can help you find peace in Costa Rica here.

About the author

Roderick Anderson

SARCO Architects is a small-sized boutique architectural firm located in San Jose, Costa Rica. It is a family business owned by Roderick and his wife, both of whom are architects. The firm works exclusively with international clients, providing high-end custom architectural design services for luxury vacation homes and investment properties in Costa Rica, Panama and the Caribbean.