This clever house works with nature to be unobtrusive yet welcoming amidst its breathtaking setting in Peru’s mountains
The enchanting Chontay House in Peru is located on a 5,800 sq m rural plot south-east of Lima. The road that leads to the site travels through beautiful natural surroundings where stone, wood, clay and local flora feature strongly. The irregular site lies 70 m higher than the Lurin River area below, like a great natural balcony in the mountains.
Lima-based architect, Marina Vella of Marina Vella Arquitectura, saw the project as an excellent opportunity to highlight conservation by using sustainable materials that blend unobtrusively with the landscape, creating sensorial and visual bonds among the users, the land and the architecture.
Choosing an exact location was challenging. The eventual solution was to create two independent volumes, articulated by a garden arranged in alignment with the existing trees and the valley. This allows the users to have constant connection with nature and outdoor activities.
Unsurprisingly in such a spectacular natural setting, respect for the environment, and becoming part of it, was top of the agenda for the architect. Vella explains: “The two volumes are elements in harmony with the environment. Each can be surrounded and can therefore loose the ‘front-back’ effect.” A large curved dry-stone interior and exterior wall gives shape to the high and low volumes on the east side.
A builder with local knowledge of traditional techniques was selected for the construction phase. All the natural resources available on site have been used: stone, adobe, eucalyptus and cane. The plants are used as design elements, thus integrating the volumes with the landscape and making them part of it. Eucalyptus wood is the structural element that supports the ‘Carrizo’ (reed grass) sunroof in the terrace. Recycled wood is used for the floors, doors, windows, and shutters.
Chontay House is surrounded by agricultural land, and in order to preserve as much of that as possible for its original function, and to allow as much space as possible for outdoor activities, the footprint of the two volumes has been kept to a minimum. Outdoors, the users can enjoy a hammock area, fire area, playground area, gazebo, and a swimming pool.
Large stones found on site were selected and arranged in an ergonomic way during land movements. Bougainvillea, bignonia and jasmine vines are used to give color to the structure. To protect the slope between the stone wall on the west side and the upper parts of the ground, vetiver was used, a plant with a very deep root that acts as a containing wall by controlling land erosion.
Project manager: Marina Vella
Construction: Oswaldo Cajañauta
Facilities: Peter Aranda
Technical drawing: Carolina Neuhaus
Landscape: Vivero 4 estaciones
Interior Design: Macarena Belaunde