Color, Matter and Essential Spaces
A place of stirring sensations and breathtaking views, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, running along the Urubamba river in the Cordillera Oriental of the Peruvian Andes is enclosed by majestic mountains. This is the extraordinary setting, sacred to the Incas, of the holiday home designed by Sandra Barclay and Jean-Pierre Crousse, Peruvian architects of international experience and standing, who after 12 years working in Paris moved back to Lima in 2006. Completed in December 2018, the house is the first of the two similar, connected yet independent, houses making up the original project.
Built at an altitude of 2,950 m, the Huayoccari project takes its cue from the landscape, combining the technological possibilities available to contemporary architecture and time-honored craft skills. Given its setting, the architecture had a challenging brief: to measure up to, yet not jar with its awe-inspiring landscape, while being an example of quality, forward-thinking architecture. A series of terraces culminating in the horizontal platform on which the building rests solves any issues arising with building on a slope. In a context of soaring mountains laden with significance and symbolism, the plan is of the simplest, the geometries exuding an essential poetic, echoing the sense of immutable time imparted by the almost intimidating landscape. Dry stone walls similar to all those around mark out the perimeter of the plot and form retaining walls to the terraces down the south-facing slope, while paved paths lead up to the house. In the approach to the house, the visitor recognizes the features that echo the surroundings: the steeply sloped roof, local red stone, and shapes and volumes that create areas of light and shade echoing and giving views of the rugged mountains around.
The structural frame is in reinforced concrete, this being a seismic area. The architecture taps into a series of themes. The L-shaped plan plays with the idea of separation and connection, the two volumes making up the house linked by a partly open corner hinge, an area with a small reflective pond that catches the light. The ground floor comprises a series of nuclei. The extensive communal area of the short arm includes a living room and kitchen-dining room, one end of which is hinged to the long side of the “L” where a corridor running the length of the volume serves two
bedrooms, and a staircase against the windowless end wall, lit by a skylight and landing window leading to the upper floor. Here, the accent is more on separation. A large vertical partition divides the upper story into two parts, immediately suggesting the master bedroom’s panoramic terrace accessed through full-height glazing. The other volume is given over to communal space. A ground-floor living area is separated from a long patio area by a large glazed partition. Open on both sides, the patio has a fireplace built into the brick wall and is a pivotal gathering place of the home. The deep white intrados contributes to the sensation of an intensely lit outdoor area reaching into the landscape.
The two main volumes of the residence and a service unit face onto an inner patio planted with an indigenous tree and shrubs. The residence combines sophistication and simplicity. Stark geometries contrast with other more intricate features. The elevations overlooking the patio are particularly interesting, their innovative architectural design referencing the geological formations and materials of the area. Red Andean stone is an all-important feature, lining the lower part of the elevations in a design reminiscent of opus incertum, the random uneven pattern taking on a sculptural appearance in striking contrast to the upper part in smooth unrendered cement whose reddish color - due to the oxides in the components - creates a gentle contrast to the red stone. The thick solid walls are broken by an irregular series of projecting windows on the upper floor, unusual features that are not just decorative but serve to tunnel light into the interiors.
This expressivity of color and materiality continues inside. The same local stone clads the walls in the same bas-relief pattern. The flooring comprises smooth locally sourced slabs and the walls are either plaster or unrendered cement, offsetting the stone to great effect. The stone roof insures thermal inertia while the thick walls help ensure comfort zone environments throughout.