Tropicality ventured into the homes and listened to the stories of several Costa Rican families from different socio-economic strata; from the slums on the outskirts of San Jose, to social housing in a rural community, to new, gated high-end suburban communities in the surrounding hillsides.

Each one of five groups of students made a 2-5 minute film, designed a diagram that compresses the spaces and time of the film into one frame, and wrote a short thesis. 

 Rooted in the voices and stories of seven women, each film and diagram tell a particular story of home and together describe a larger framework of shifting material and immaterial relationships against a backdrop of radical change in Costa Rican society. When seen during a final presentation, it was clear that the project is illuminating when viewed as a whole. 

The project I was most interested in was 'Cirpreses', as it highlights how home is not just about the physical aspects of a space, but also about memory and the people within it. 


The project Cipreses explores the story of a grandmother and her home, a separate yet attached apartment to her daughters and now grown-up grandchildren?s architect designed house. Her story reflects a wider tendency amongst Costa Rican youth towards a dismissive attitude and increased separation from the care of and interaction with the elderly.

The elderly, the loss of purpose and independence within an increasingly individualistic society.

Traditional roles within family and structures of home are challenged by a rapidly changing society in which people increasingly define themselves as individuals. As one ages they become more dependent on the care of others again, however having grown up in a time when family was at the centre of ones responsibilities, social life and identity, some experience a loss of purpose traditionally found in their family as their children and grandchildren now define themselves through their individual and separate lives.

v   Manuela Bucce and Sheryl Arias with Esteban Vargas

Reflection on 'Tropicality' here

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