Site Museum of Paracas Culture
Sandra Barclay, Jean Pierre Crousse
Barclay & Crousse
Rodrigo Apolaya (Assistant) Antonio Blanco (Structural Engineer)
Ministerio de Cultura del Perú - Jorge Arrunátegui Viceministro
Cristobal Palma Erieta Attali Jean Pierre Crousse
The project deals with five main concerns: Memory: the simple, prismatic volume and location of the original museum was maintained as a statement for continuity in the cultural construction of landscape and as a strategy for avoiding the mandatory and costly archaeological surveys if built in a different footprint. Climate: The prismatic volume is accompanied by a series of passive environmental devices that help regulate natural ventilation and lighting, give adequate temperatures and divide the different exhibition spaces with transitional spaces for visitors. Landscape: the building merges with landscape by its mass and hue, but has a presence in it, as has a rock or a cliff. It is not an object in landscape, it depends on it and shapes it at the same time, as a layer laid upon thousands of other layers of human and geographic history. Culture: the ancient techniques of Paracas polished ceramics give the clue to relate with both culture and landscape: the building, in traditional load-bearing masonry walls and concrete structure, is plastered with a handmade polished puzzolanic cement which gives its natural reddish aspect, similar to the color of the hills that surround the site. Means: the limited budget is considered as an opportunity for typological and technical innovation through the delicate pondering of memory, climate, landscape and culture as generators of architecture.
The Peruvian Central Coastal desert was the cradle of Paracas culture, which developed from 700 BC to 200 AD. The Paracas were the ancestors of the people who made the renowned Nazca lines. Extraordinary tombs were discovered in what is today the Paracas National Park, and a site museum was built in 1964 by German archeologist Frederic Engel. It was destroyed by a deadly earthquake in 2007. Due to enormous needs for comfort earthquake victims, only a small budget was allowed for its reconstruction by the Spanish Cooperation Agency, and an architectural competition was held in 2008. Site works begun in 2010 and, after many years of difficulties and the structure left abandoned, the new site museum was opened to the public in 2016. The new site museum belongs to the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. Along with the neighboring National Park information center, it's the only construction allowed in the most important biological and landscape reserve of the Peruvian coastal desert. Four main elements define the context of the project: the Paracas culture and its magnificent ceramics and textiles, the modern community that lives nearby, the extraordinary red and yellow desert landscape, and the scarcity of means for building it. The site museum deals with the delicate balance between archaeological conservation, adequate conditions for the exhibition of archeological pieces, and the relationship to a local community living outside the National Park, with little concern to the site's heritage.