DESIGNING FROM VERNACULAR IN THE ANDES

Realised Project – 2018
designed and built in collaboration with Raphaël Bach
client Caravana de Llamas, Tilcara, Jujuy, Argentina

 

This project is a first step for me towards a ‘sustainable’ architecture, in ecological, social and economical terms. It results from a spontaneous intention of exchange and help, which got enriched through reality with various reflections and motivations.

Designed and built by Raphaël Bach and myself as part of a voluntary contribution, this space is intended for a small responsible tourism company of the Humahuaca Valley in the Argentine Andes. On one hand, it enhances the existing storage, on the other it provides some missing features: a proper kitchen, a souvenir shop and a strong architectural identity.

From the beginning of the process, the volunteering condition raises an ethical issue: the unfair wage cost competition with the indigenous people. However, the project would not have been launched in any other way due to the very limited economic resources of the client. Moreover, it was quite beneficial to many local actors: the building material firms, the two workers who came to build stonewalls, as well as the employees of the tourism company themselves.

The budget and the discussions with the owner have guided the project towards the utilization of site-sourced materials, from the soil itself to reused elements. The techniques used, very rich in learning, are a combination of experiments with materials and of transmission of traditional Andean skills. Consequently, these cultural exchanges, as well as the involvement of all users, at different levels, in the design and construction process, have been very fruitful.