House in Azpitia, Lima, Peru

The house is located in Azpitia valley, in the coast of Lima, Peru. Approximately 90 Km south of the city of Lima and 20 km away from the seashore. A place known by the local vineyards and its pre-columbian ruins; a kind of natural oasis for people escaping from the big metropolis of Lima.

The landscape is characterised by the dryness of the desert that contrasts with green areas along the course of the river Mala from the mountains towards the Pacific Ocean. A valley consisting of small mountains and picks rising up from the desert on both sides of the river, changing colours from beige to light brown, to reddish, anthracite and soft grey.The house sits on a slope, at the foot of the mountain with a view to the path of the river Mala towards the sea, facing the vineyards.

The project was intended to integrate the house with this dry landscape and to develop a geometry and a palette of textures and colours according to this environment. Furthermore, the project should be seen as a new layer on the landscape above the old existing ones: the pre-columbian sites and textiles and ceramics remains. 

For such purpose we decided to use different material layers, specially working with local handcrafted materials and techniques, merged with other industrial ones. Twenty kilometers away from Azpitia, at the Chilca shore, we found traditional local handcrafted brick ovens. The bricks, made of clay and sand have thermal properties, an irregular texture and particular colours that relate to this dry landscape. 

The foundation of the house is composed of platforms, made from local stone, covered with xerophyte plants hiding the internal program of the Sauna. Above the stone layer is located the terraces: an extension of the social area - kitchen, dining room and living room - covered with a wood roof that protects from sun radiation. The roof is a kind of textile grid that allows light entrance. The grid is composed from a wood pattern developed according to the sun path, avoiding direct radiation. The roof creates a transitional space - shadow, semi-shade and open areas - projecting the interior life towards the outdoor space. All of the first level of the house, comprising the social areas, is an open space surrounded by gardens and views. The second level contains the private areas: the main and secondary room, both framing special views of the valley. 

The house and landscape

The house was designed for a couple in their 50s who were searching for space that reconnected them with rural, natural experiences: the valley, the vineyard, the farm. 

When I visited the location, on the site there was some walls of rocks, and the vineyard. The house is located in the border of a 7 hectares terrain. The nearest house is 200 metres away..


My intention was to create a landscaping dimension for the house. The designed object should be the result of a process of interiorisation of local landscaping elements: materials, textures, vegetal species, colors...To bring inside what is outdoor. And out what is indoor.

I visualised the house as an interior space, where the subject and body could immerse and internalize the outdoor dimension of landscape. Interiorisation means to bring near what is far - the tactile experience of the natural landscape in daily life, as well as internalising their imaginary: the image of the desert, the dryness, the valley, the fog... all symbolic of climate, mineral, vegetal and animal worlds coexisting with human life.

Materials

We can define the city as a place where we lost contact with the origin or source of the materials. The city, far from the quarries, do not know anymore the origin of the stones and bricks. Or we can say, that living  far from the river, the city forgot where the water comes from. The origin of the material is connected with a particular environment and climate: height, humidity, temperature... moreover the material is connected with artisan and traditional handcraft of specific locations.

There is a continuity between landscape-material-handcraft techniques-climate, etc

For the project in Azpitia I chose the main materials: the brick - made locally - and the rocks from the mountain near the house. I wanted to work with these specific materials, with particular colours and textures strongly connected to this natural environment. I explored for materials in the area around the house to create a palette. Materials as minerals, and vegetal species for the landscaping.



The stones are from the area of the house, specifically from the mountains behind the house. Using these stones we created an implicit connection between the mountain and the house. For the terrace we used a porcelain floor. This material was chosen for its thermical and tactile qualities. A smooth transition from the rough rocks in the outdoor space, towards a smooth surface for the interior area. We use recycled wood of an old dock for the interior.

And for the windows, terrace roof we use pumaquiro, a wood that could endure weather conditions: the dryness and hot weather in summer and cold and humidity in winter. We use bricks for thermal, visual and tactile qualities. A massive and porous skin that protects you from the cold and hot weather, and create and interior refuge. Beyond that, to create a strong connection to landscape and the handcrafted quality.

Voids

One of the main program of the house was devoted to social activities. All the social areas, were very important. My wish was to create some void space, a space that could not be occupied, spaces with no exact codification, defition, program.. Voids only for the entrance of lights and shadows, spaces as the living room where you can grasp some pieces of sky. We orientated the windows with solar paths for the morning and afternoon. Inside we have 6.80 m. So you can see the space, but you cannot occupy it.

House as skin - skin as a house

In order to make "weak" the solidness, the geometry in the corners, we create holes. Our intention was to create an idea of porous skin or mesh, with moments of interiority, intimacy and moments of escape. Walls and holes, letting in the wind, light, warmth.. That was the idea for this house.

For the design of the 5 m extended sun shade I was inspired by pre columbian textiles.Going beyond, we worked in the idea of skin, textile or mesh. I regarded walls and roof as membrane elements. Elements for the contact with the body, for a tactile experience, a thermal or warmth experience, sound or isolation experience, etc. 

An important element of the project was the terrace roof. We conceived it as a textile that protects peoples' skin from the high radiation of the sun in this area. I see a roof or a wall literaly as a cloth for the body.

 Transition spaces

We created a transition space between indoors and outdoors. My intention was to promote a life outdoors. I was interested in creating a degree of interiors towards exteriors. An experience where you slowly lose your "clothes"- the roof, walls, floors.. - and immerse in the natural environment.

That's why the house is surrounded by plants and landscaping elements, so all the internal activities were  alwaysconnected with the transitional gardens and terraces. Transitional spaces that connect you with the far landscape, an exterior space you cannot reach. The patio is used as a connector between the kitchen and the herbs farm behind the house. A space for the storage of vegetables.

The Estar in the second level was also a transitional space where you can have a more private conversations or activities, such as listening to music, watching a movie, etc. A space in between a private room and a living room, less private and less social. I wanted them to have a new way of living, of relating to each other, a way to establish new relationships in the interior between them and with the outdoor environment. 

Project details

Area:

The first floor is 153.7 m2
The second floor is 86 m2

Duration:
The construction lasted one and a half years

Credits

Architecture by Estudio Rafael Freyre

General assistance: Arq. Juan Jose Barboza

Landscaping assistance: Manuel Mendieta

Photography: Edi Hirose

 

Text provided by and © Copyright Estudio Rafael Freyre 2016