Designing the Peruvian Amazon

LALESA and AFH's design charetteLos Angeles – This past weekend, Saturday June 16th, 2012, LALESA, through Architecture for Humanity (AFH), hosted a Peruvian cultural center design charette at Pepperdine University.

With around fifteen professionals  in attendance, Sandra Burga, the project’s client and coordinator, gave an introduction on the scope of the design project, discussed her background in Peru, the motivations for her choice to create a cultural center in Lamas, Peru, and the project directives to be accomplished within the time period for the design charette and the duration of the project (projected to be completed around 2014, 2015). Sandra mentioned that the goal/mission of this project was to “provide sustainable, innovative, and transformational development to various areas in need, building structures, in which people live, work, learn, heal, and gather…”

During the introduction at the design charette, Daniel Ebuehi (Project Architect), Jim Sarratori, and Miriam Cruz gave their respective introductions on their participation with AFH, with LALESA, and their responsibility for the design charette. Daniel and Jim explained the project site in Lamas, Peru. The project’s site is around 6,500 square feet (sf) in area, it is located at the southern region of Lamas (close to the Tarapoto), and oriented length-wise along the east-west axis. Through the site  research the team was able to discuss the Waiku region of Lamas as a place for natives and indigenous people; a place rich in tradition and culture. Also, they commented on the building restrictions: 4 feet and 11 inches setback on the south and east boundaries of the site, using locally sourced materials, and a three story height limit.

Next, the group split into three teams and delved into the project while covering topics like sustainability, access, circulation, ventilation, cooling, culture, program, etc. Daniel’s group focused on developing a strong logic for organizing the required programs (public to private gradients, tripartite organization, and inversion), visualizing and representing this logic, then articulating the formal language to use in creating the shell for the building, while referencing various examples from other projects from AFH in terms of form inspiration, cost estimating, etc. Jim’s group looked at the relationship between programs, weight-to-position ratio of different programs like the library, and the prioritization of some programs at the site. The third group chose to focus on the terrain of the site, the existing slope, and celebrated this undulation by distributing programs in a way that “hugs” the landscape.

program logic visualization

program logic visualization

Later on during the day a panel of judges (including Dina Krunie, Hugo Monge, and Rigoberto Ortega) absorbed the work done at the charette and then proceeded to give their contributions. Rigoberto inquired on the local construction methods; vernacular construction techniques, and stressed the need for considering the use of multiple forms of structures at the site, in terms of economic viability. Hugo expressed his fondness for the site and expressed the continuation on the use and study of color as it related to both the culture, the building, and also the organizational logic at the site. For Dina, she was excited about the project, the overall form, and the potential of the spaces. She mentioned that the program should be developed within the site (as excavation would be cheap), and that natural ventilation (expressed earlier) was a great idea.

Towards the end of the charette we shared Peruvian food, networked, and discussed various possible directions for the project, however, the main direction to be further developed would be strongly influenced by cost and build-ability. In essence, more funding for the project would be able to provide for more amenities within the project (like mechanical systems like hvac, solar power systems, etc).

For more information about this project, please visit:!/events/478514785497427/


Photography by Daniel Ebuehi

Profile photo of Daniel Ebuehi About Daniel Ebuehi

Daniel Ebuehi, is an aspiring designer with an emphasis in environmental design in sustainable and renewable ways. He recently completed his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design. As well, he received his BArch from the University of California at Berkeley and has worked professionally in various fields within the architectural industry.