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Architectural Record, Mid-April, 1986

Same House, More Yard

By Sam Lubell

For future generations seeking a symbol of playful 1980s architecture, one case study should surely be Arquitectonica’s 1984 Casa Los Andes, in Lima, Peru. The bright red, yellow, pink, and white structure, a crucifix form composed of a cluster of intersecting planes and curved volumes, was designed for Arquitectonica partner Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA’s sister, her husband, and two small children. Gardens surrounding the 3,500-square-foot house can be glimpsed from the interior through diamond-shaped, circular, triangular, and elliptical windows; oval skylights further animate the space. Inside, multiuse rooms and straightforward circulation yield simple living spaces, despite the house’s subtly shifting axes. Visual manipulation—including changes in color and scale, and the creation of internal view corridors—give the four separate areas of the interior a distinct atmosphere. Outside, the grounds contribute to the unique character of each quadrant: The entrance garden, to the southeast, brims with roses; the southwest patio, which includes a car entrance, is more utilitarian; the northwest contains a courtyard with fruit trees; and the northeast quadrant, protected at the rear from tropical winds, is the most lush.

Casa Los Andes owners Jan Mulder and Sylvia Fort have been diligent in preserving its original spirit. Any change in furniture, layout, artwork, or maintenance elicits a call to the architects for approval. So the house has changed little. Only one major alteration has occurred: the enclosure of a breezeway between the study and dining room, with sliding glass doors to keep Lima winters at bay.

The northeast garden was expanded about five years after completion by annexing an adjacent lot. This area has become what Fort-Brescia calls a “romantic garden,” rather than the more tightly arranged spot it once was. The yard now includes a rich assortment of trees along its perimeter, including 15 types of palm, as well as apple, peach, and avocado. Bougainvillea and geraniums bloom here, amid contemporary Peruvian sculptures in bronze, marble, and ceramic. Only about a month ago, one of the most dramatic changes reached completion: An 82-foot-long pool now extends from the central breezeway into the garden. Off-white travertine marble has replaced the expanded terrace’s dark, local stone, called Laja, which tended to scorch bare feet. To maintain uniformity, the owners made the same marble substitution where Laja originally lined the house’s entryway. Finally, a small new garage stands within the expanded garden, but remains intentionally discreet, respecting the country’s strong feelings against ostentation.

The house, says Fort, has been a wonderful place to live, providing bright color and copious light in a country where much of the year is gray. Its moderate size makes it practical, requiring minimal maintenance, while it remains cozy, even with the children grown and the nest empty.

Click images to see larger.
The house’s whimsical forms and bright
colors (above; photo © Roberto Huarcaya) are complemented by the fanciful hallway windows and skylights visible in the interior (below; Photo © Timothy Hursley).
 
The house originally had a much smaller yard (below). Expanded landscaping includes a pool (above; Photo © Timothy Hursley).
The original layout in RECORD published in 1986.
 

     
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