Funded! This project was successfully funded on December 13, 2012.

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NYIT architecture students want to help build a recycling center they designed in Costa Rica, and fund a documentary film about it.

UPDATE: After successfully reaching our initial funding goal of $9,000, on Sunday, December 9, we now hope to reach more potential supporters, and a new goal of $12,000 by Thursday December 13, 9pm EST.

What would we do with the additional funds?

Our initial goal of 9K was calculated as the bare minimum to make the January trip economically feasible, and we are so happy that you all made that happen! We ARE coming! However, there are many expenses still unaccounted for, such as student travel, ground transportation, and specialty film equipment required to make a beautiful film in the challenging conditions in Nosara. Since the project is truly a labor of love for all involved, we are willing to pay these expenses out of our own pockets, just to make this project happen. However, some of the students that helped build the project this summer would love to return, but simply cannot afford it. Our new goal will help with that!

Please help us reach our new goal, so we can make the project more affordable for the students, and make a better film. Please continue to spread the word, and, if you can, consider increasing your pledge. Thank you! Pura Vida!

Ayana, Tobias, and the NYIT students

Pura Vida! We are back!

It’s me again, Tobias Holler, architect and professor at the New York Institute of Technology. This past summer my absolute favorite building project, the Nosara Recycling and Education Center, made a huge step toward reality. With the generous support of almost 200 people who backed our first kickstarter campaign, we were able to bring over 30 NYIT architecture students to Costa Rica in July and August who donated their time and skills to help build this important community project.

Under the supervision of local construction professionals we were able to set up the construction site, complete the site grading, concrete foundations and concrete block walls, and even built the first wooden roof truss. The students gained invaluable construction site experience.

At the same time German filmmaker Ayana de Vos recorded every one of our moves for her documentary film project, shooting over 60 hours of footage, with multiple cameras, and conducting countless interviews with the participants.

We are proud and so very happy that this summer was such a great success. We could not have done this without those who supported our first kickstarter campaign, and the wonderful people in Nosara who continue to push this project forward and so graciously supported us during our stay there. Thank you very much!

BUT, the project is far from completed, and much work remains to be done before the building is ready to help with the local waste management problem. The local workers continue to build the project right now, but without help from the student volunteers, construction is progressing at a much slower pace. In order not to loose the momentum of this important community project it is crucial that we go back and help finish the building, and the documentary film about it! For this, we need your support.

We are looking to fund a portion of the student’s expenses while volunteering on the construction site in Nosara for three weeks in January 2013, and to enable Ayana to continue to shoot the construction process, so that the project can be prominently featured in her documentary film about waste management and sustainability in Costa Rica.

Our help this January in Nosara is necessary to make the project a reality, and it’s an important story that really needs to be told. Please help us help the community of Nosara, by making a pledge today and sharing this project with your friends.

Check out the amazing rewards (on the right) that we created for you in return and feel free to follow the project on our blogfacebook and twitter

Thank you so much! Pura Vida!

Part of the $75 reward: custom designed sLAB T-shirt - made out of 50% recycled bottles! (logo design by www.ps-designstudio.com)
Part of the $75 reward: custom designed sLAB T-shirt - made out of 50% recycled bottles! (logo design by www.ps-designstudio.com)

Waste Management in Costa Rica

Costa Rica, a country more commonly known for biodiversity, national parks, and 
a thriving eco-tourism sector, has a severe municipal solid waste management (MSWM) problem; lacking appropriate infrastructure and policies, over sixty percent of the 2,400 tons of waste produced daily are put into open, unregulated dumps and less than ten percent gets recycled. 250 tons daily are dumped illegally into rivers and tropical forests, polluting ground water, threatening the health of local communities and destroying a fragile ecosystem, whose well-being is of critical importance not only locally but to the planet.

The Nosara Recycling Center will collect, compact and sell recyclables for the future transformation into new materials, greatly reducing the amount of waste currently arriving at the Nosara dump, and eliminating the unsanitary, hazardous and inefficient recycling practices currently in place. The center will also serve as a communal education center for proper waste management.

What happened so far?

Developed in close collaboration with the Nosara Civic Association, the Nosara Waste and Recycling Association, and Sustainable Nosara, the project is a key component in the long-term solution to the local waste management problem, enabling the diversion of valuable resources from the waste stream, and, most importantly, allowing the community to educate its members on the importance and implementation of proper recycling practices. The project has the potential to become a model of sustainable waste management practices for communities in all of Costa Rica, and other tropical countries.

The NYIT students have invested a significant amount of time and energy into this project, outside of class, in addition to their already busy schedules. In November 2011 I organized an NYIT wide design competition for the project, attracting submissions from over 50 students. 

A group of nine winners, partially selected through a public voting process on the project’s Facebook page, was sent to Costa Rica in January 2012 to present their initial design ideas to the local community, and to solicit feedback. We visited two existing recycling centers in San Jose, documented the project site, and reviewed our designs with local architect Lucca Spendlingwimmer of Salagnac Architectos, the local architects for the project.

 There is also tremendous support for the initiative in the local community. The land to build has been donated by the Nosara Civic Association, and many volunteers are tirelessly working to advance the project. Through generous donations from local businesses and from individual members of the community, a large portion of the projected cost to build the facility has been collected with more fundraising efforts currently underway.

In the Spring 2012 we finalized the design, and completed the construction documents, collaborating with NYIT engineering students and faculty, and organized our first fundraising campaign on kickstarter, which enabled us to send more than 30 students to Nosara to donated their time and skills to help build the project.

Each student stayed approx. 2-3 weeks, at different times during the overall duration of the project, so that at any time a group of 10 students was working on the construction site, under the supervision of local construction professionals Daniel, Gustavo, Marvin and Pablo. We were able to complete site grading, foundation and concrete block work, and began the installation of the wooden roof structure.

We worked as quickly as we could but still, there is much more work to do, and we do not want to loose the momentum! We really hope that we can return to Nosara in January to help finish the construction of this important project. Please help us help Nosara!

How we intend to use the funds: 

We would like to return to Nosara for three weeks in January 2013, to continue to help with the construction of the recycling center. At any time during this time 11 students will be working on the construction site, under the supervision of local construction professionals. The students will pay for their own flights, but we require funds to rent eleven dorm beds for three weeks in a local hostel, and to help with cost for food and local transportation. 50% of the funds raised on kickstarter will be used for this purpose thus enabling all interested students to participate, including those with lesser financial means.

The remainder of the funds will be used to partially cover expenses associated with including this project in a professional documentary film about municipal solid waste management and sustainability in Costa Rica. German filmmaker Ayana de Vos has been documenting the initiative from the very beginning, including shooting over 60 hours of footage this summer during the early phase of construction. Funds from this campaign will allow her to return to Nosara in January as well to continue to shoot the project’s construction. When finished, the documentary film will educate a large audience not only about this important initiative, but more generally about issues of waste management in the tropics, enabling this project and the community of Nosara to become an example for sustainable recycling practices for other communities in Costa Rica and other tropical countries to follow.

The building design

The final design is decidedly modern, but inspired by local passive tropical design strategies. An elongated building form, consisting of three zones (a sorting facility, an open lobby, and support spaces) under a common roof is placed horizontally along the existing slope of the site, minimizing excavation, and impact to the site. An open entry lobby with a feature wall made out of up-cycled aluminum cans, and a landscaped seating area with views into the recycling area will enable the community to engage and be educated about the recycling process.

The building’s narrow plan is oriented to maximize passive cooling through cross ventilation and the roof geometry is optimized to capture prevailing breezes but protect from the Papagayos, seasonal gale-force winds. High ceilings and reflective roofing materials will further reduce heat buildup. The building’s structure will be made from local pochote trees that were sustainably grown on the project site, and salvaged materials will be used whenever possible for the walls and roof. During the wet season rainwater will be collected on the large roof, and stored in cisterns, for 100% of the facility’s water needs.

Project Credits

Project Leader: Tobias Holler, AIA, LEED AP www.hollerarchitecture.com



Filmmaker: Ayana de Vos www.devosfilm.com

Student Design Team: Eiman Alsakha, Vinny Ciaramella, Crystal Eksi, Karen Gomez, Jessica Rose Jardinel, Karolina Kopiczko, Michael Koutsoubis, Dimitrios Malliakas, Wagdy Moussa, Austin Reed, Alfonso Rodriguez, Omar Serrano, Timothy Severance

Student Construction Team: Alex Alaimo, Cindy Chan, Janeille Calnick, Andy Christoforou, Sean Dickens, Crystal Eksi, Karen Gomez, Chris Goodwin, George Holz, Daniel Horn, Natalie Jaggernauth, Jessica Rose Jardinel, Talha Kirmani, Karolina Kopiczko, Michael Koutsoubis, Kelly Kuplicki, Samuel Lee, Dimitrios Malliakas, Adriana Martinez, Keven Melara, Xingmei Ni, Kris Pomilla, Austin Reed, Alfonso Rodriguez, Ted Solages, Victoria Torres, Elizabeth Weintraub

Other student participants: Iga Bebel, Samuel Blythe, Jesse Cardenas, Brian Cheung, James Chirinos, Cali Conlin, Ben Costabile, Jonathan De Silva Johrden, Peter Eliason, John Fraschilla, David Hernandez, Aurelija Jara, Steve Laris, Ryan McGrath, Michael Palica, Marcus Papangelopoulos, Chris Parrinello, James Petrocelli, Adriana Prieto, Robert Ruggiero, Germin Sentshchev, Prince Shah, Zachary Thomas, Matt Torres

Faculty Advisors: Matthias Altwicker, Esteban Beita, Robert Cody, Janet Fink, Mathew Ford, Farzana Gandhi, Beyhan Karahan, Sarah Meyland, Jason Van Nest, William Rockwell, Giovanni Santamaria

Collaborators and Supporters in Costa Rica: VERITAS University, Hatillo Recycling Center, Escazu Recycling Center, Reciclarte, Tierra Nostra, A-01, GTZ-CYMA, Harmony Hotel, Giardino Tropicale, Lagarta Lodge, Reilly Family, Rancho Tico, Salagnac Architectos, Sustainable Nosara, Nosara Civic Association, Nosara Waste and Recycling Association, Nosara Chamber of Tourism, and many more!

Special thanks to Dean Judith DiMaio and Associate Dean Frank Mruk, NYIT School of Architecture and Design

Pura Vida!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Traveling with students to a foreign country, and having them work on a construction project is a fairly ambitious enterprise. There are a million things that could prevent a building project from being built – lack of funds or building materials, lack of local support, difficulties in navigating the local building codes, and bureaucracies. Especially during our first kickstarter campaign we were worried at times that we would come to Nosara, and there would be nothing to do for us. Well, we remained optimistic, continued to push the project forward, and it worked out wonderfully. This could not have been possible without the amazing support we had in Nosara. Our clients devoted so much of their time to get the construction process underway, local architect Lucca donated his time and expertise for design consultation, permit drawings, and now the site supervision. Magda cooked up delicious lunches everyday, Miguel and Bernice provided discounted transportation. Those and many others helped make last summer’s success possible. Since we now have this incredible local support system in place, we are confident that this next trip will be also be a success. Please help us help Nosara! Pura Vida!

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    11 backers

    GRACIAS! a virtual high-five. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    18 backers

    MUCHAS GRACIAS! A personal thank you email from one of us in either arabic, german, greek, turkish, polish, spanish or english (yes, we are a diverse group!). Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    LA PELÍCULA! (that's spanish for 'film') Digital access to the documentary film, once finished. A THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the RECYCLING ROOKIES support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. A custom key chain sporting the sLAB logo. A THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the RECYCLING ROOKIES support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    Our awesome custom-designed sLAB Costa Rica T-shirt made out of 50% recycled water bottles (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping). Digital access to the documentary film, once finished. A THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the RECYCLING ROOKIES support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    LA ALFOMBRA ROJA! (that's spanish for 'red carpet') Two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. A SPECIAL THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the SORTING STARS support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    VIP! Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. A SPECIAL THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the SORTING STARS support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    A digital copy of a beautiful eBook with text, drawings and photos, designed by the students, documenting the project from beginning to end. Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. A VERY SPECIAL THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the WIZARDS OF WASTE support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    A physical bound hardcopy of the ebook with text, drawings and photos, designed by the students, documenting the project from beginning to end. Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. A VERY SPECIAL THANKS in the credits at the end of the film with your name listed in the WIZARDS OF WASTE support category. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    A private screening of the documentary with the director at your location (NYC or Nosara only). ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit at the end of the film. A physical bound hardcopy of the ebook with text, drawings and photos, designed by the students, documenting the project from beginning to end. Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director.Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    The students will build you a physical scale model of the Nosara recycling center (pick up in NYC only). ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit at the end of the film. A physical bound hardcopy of the ebook with text, drawings and photos, designed by the students, documenting the project from beginning to end. Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director.Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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    Come to Nosara in the first two weeks of January 2013 (at your own expense...) and get a one-day personal tour of the construction site, as well as a project presentation by the students. Your visit will be documented on film by Ayana, and she will turn it into your own personal short movie. Plus the following: ASSOCIATE PRODUCER credit at the end of the film. A physical bound hardcopy of the ebook with text, drawings and photos, designed by the students, documenting the project from beginning to end. Two invitations to a private reception before the premiere screening and two tickets to the documentary film premiere screening in NYC. A first-run DVD of the documentary film, once finished, (mailing included if in the US, or pick up in Nosara or NYC, for international mailing add $10 for shipping) with personal note from the director. Your name listed on our facebook and blog sites as project supporter (if you want). Access to exclusive project updates.

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Funding period

- (27 days)