HOUSE IN PARACAS DESERT
PABLO REATEGUI LEON
The unique location of the house, bordering the nature reserve, defines a double relationship of the house with the place: on the one hand with the condominium itself, a man-made oasis (water, greenery, shade, architecture) and on the other hand with the vast natural desert to which it opens immediately beyond the borders of the property.
Architecturally, the project synthesizes this duality in a composition articulated by two pure volumes, one on top of the other. The volume above is arranged in such a way as to free the upper part of the one below, allowing the greatest visual register from above to the desert while at the same time generating the necessary shade required by the terrace located on the second floor.
The program has also been divided in two: on the first floor the living room, dining room, pool-terrace, toilets and bedrooms, and on the second floor the master bedroom and a multipurpose recreation area connected to the upper terrace.
The proposal thus establishes two very different situations of use: a social and restful one on the first level and an existential and contemplative one on the second.
The unique coastal desert of Peru*.
The reason why the Peruvian coast is a desert is the temperature of the sea, a Pacific Ocean cooled by the Humboldt Current of cold water from Antarctica.
This condition has modified the climate of the Peruvian coastal territory, turning it into a unique desert, without extreme temperatures and where it practically does not rain.
For architecture, this condition was decisive: since there were no rains, it was possible to develop mud constructions that reached a high level of sophistication over the centuries, with geometrically exact surfaces and a unique continuous materiality made entirely by hand, a skill that has been maintained to this day and has gone from historical mud work to work in concrete/cement.
Nowadays, almost any construction on the Peruvian coast is made with concrete structures and brick walls, all covered with a thin layer of cement called locally "tarrajeo" [rendering] and executed by hand with the same perfection as in ancient mud monuments (Chan Chan, Puruchuco, etc.).
The original commission for the project presented here, a small house for a couple and their two young children, located on the border of the Paracas National Reserve, immediately became an opportunity to reveal the beauty of the unique Peruvian coastal desert while synthesizing in its volumetry and materiality the millenary characteristic of the Peruvian coastal mud architecture.
* Please read the essay “The cube in the desert” to well understand the relationship between nature and architecture in the Peruvian coast: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zIBnTzbbT6lOQxdrUSFW0v8ULO_1TupX/view?usp=sharing
The constructed work is a summary example of how construction is done on the Peruvian coast today*: concrete columns and beams and brick walls all "tarrajeados", flat roofs (it does not rain) and minimal accessories on doors and windows (it is neither too hot nor too cold).
The result is a very essential volumetry that evokes the constructions of the pre-Columbian cultures of the Peruvian coast, only this time with the audacity that the current structural system allows: a massive cantilevered volume.
There, the meeting of the two volumes has been duly studied so that it is clear that it is a volume that flies over the other.
The work was built almost entirely by hand, the same workmanship that for thousands of years has produced a geometrically pure and precise architecture.
The house is in itself a revelation of the desert landscape of the Peruvian coast as well as a testimony to the way architecture is built there.