There is a case to be made that the most interesting architecture at the moment is coming from Latin America. Somehow the finest architects on the continent have absorbed the radical public spirit and openness of Brazilian modernism and the cool of contemporary Latin design, and blended them with specific local traditions, both historic and modernist. Tempered with adaptations to climate and culture, they have created some of the most memorable, striking and impressive contemporary dwellings.
Architects Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse’s C3 House does all of this and a little more. Set into a dusty Peruvian hillside overlooking the South Pacific, it is defined by its roof, which is a kind of autonomous sculptural object seemingly suspended over the house. It reminds me of half a wooden clothes peg. Its underside is carved into a series of three vaults that define the spaces beneath them, each very different in character. The smallest sits over the kitchen and the largest over the living area, which is entirely open to the ocean.
The columns at the corners are placed at 45 degrees to the plan, which stops the room feeling like a box and makes it appear to embrace the view, as if throwing its arms open. The third vault is left incomplete, a cantilever hanging in the air. This curious device, the cross between a weighty concrete vault and a flying cantilever, gives the space beneath an unfinished feel, a sense of potential, as if the house is still becoming.
The walls facing the land are constructed in rough stone and concrete, anchoring the dwelling to the site. The surfaces facing the ocean are in smoother timber, a more nautical allusion. Sure, the house has the usual accoutrements of luxury: the panoramic views and the infinity pool overlooking the ocean. And with its stone walls and a composition punctuated by the occasional palm tree or desert shrub, it recalls some of the low-rise modernist villas of mid-century Palm Springs. But this is a more austere, elemental structure and one with real architectural integrity. There is a touch of Le Corbusier, a touch of Louis Kahn and a dose of mid-century cool, but there is no doubt that this is an original.
Photographs: Cristóbal Palma
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