As tends to occur in various Latin American capitals, the historical center of Lima —also known as Cercado de Lima— faces simultaneous processes of deterioration, conservation and transformation. Wandering through its streets, its neo-colonial and republican architecture mixes with some major architectural projects which came about during Peru's modernist movement: "golden age" of public architecture during the mid 20th century.
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Warning: this article proposes a narrative according to the route taken from one side to the other of the wall, from the predictable to the most unpredictable. To better situate ourselves, the narrative will be told through my personal experience.
Building and growing are two actions that should be considered more often than not at the same time. This is how the 2017 "Build to Grow" social housing competition, looked to establish bases that sustain a flexible way of living. The event took place in the Belén district in the city of Iquitos, on 3.7 hectares plot of land. The project that received first place proposed to locate 120 incremental homes, that alternatively allowed users to modify and expand it according to their needs and economic means. In short, a home with a solid nucleus formed by a structure that supports changing activities.
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The architectural model: a tool, a sculptural artifact, a prized possession, and yet in the digital age of BIM and Virtual Reality, perhaps becoming an enigma, a relic for settling dust. And yet, we are still making them. If you imagine that famous photo of earth from space, of every model ever made in a single image, it raises the question - where are they all? Where does the architectural model go to die?
At the end of September, we invited our Spanish-speaking readers to send us their social housing proposals completed at a university level. Social housing is still a challenge for much of Latin America and although every year hundreds of architecture students work on projects that reflect their concerns in the social housing field, its visibility is very low and its materialization is null. At a time when the Global South has pursued its own responses to its own problems, the university response on social housing should be taken into account by the State, both of whom are interested in the common good.
Humans are adaptable animals; we have evolved to adjust to, and survive in, many difficult and extreme conditions. In some cases, these extremes are natural, while in other modern cities extreme living situations are created by us, and we are forced to accept and adjust. Here is a list of extreme settlement conditions: some challenging, some wonderful and all of them offering a fascinating insight into how we occupy the planet in 2017.
In Peru, you can not live without not knowing about or learning the lessons of the thousand-year-old architectural legacy of some of its many archaeological sites (19,903 to be exact). These places are full of inspiration, art, history, legends, and magic. Their stories are closely tied to their architecture and the ruins that hold mysteries that perhaps leave us with more questions than answers. But the sites' power to amaze us is something that every architect will appreciate.
Historical preservation and integration with nature, two crucial themes in the development of the Peruvian structure whose territory is a synthesis of historical landscapes. The winning project of the “Ideas de Arquitectura” contest in Machu Picchu National Archaeological Park (Cusco) not only achieves both themes but also weaves and customizes them. The project mimics the architectural tradition of the place while bringing its own contemporary language. It creates bridges of new relations while respecting the preexisting ones, in continuation with the nature of the place, harmony between nature and history. And of course, it invites visitors to be part of this experience.
Learn more details about this project and its approach to what has been the development of landscape of its masterplan that was made for the Archaeological Park.
“When you read Love in the Time of Cholera you come to realize the magic realism of South America.” Yvonne Farrell, Shelley McNamara and I were in a corner of the Barbican Centre’s sprawling, shallow atrium talking about the subject of their most recent accolade, the Royal Institute of British Architects inaugural International Prize, awarded that previous evening. That same night the two Irish architects, who founded their practice in Dublin in the 1970s, also delivered a lecture on the Universidad de Ingeniería and Tecnologia (UTEC)—their “modern-day Machu Picchu” in Lima—to a packed audience in London’s Portland Place.
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