Qiyuan Liu, M.Arch I
Lima is a city with strong local culture and numerous pre-columbian sacred buildings, the huacas, within its urban fabric. In the process of urban development, these sacred sites have lost not only its historical significance but also its involvement in urban life. How to re-engage these heritage sites, currently neglected and isolated from the city, is the major design challenge of this studio. This studio is intended to build a community within the historical site for residents of different age groups, and the food production industry has been a given program serving as the incentive of this system.
How to highlight and celebrate the presence of huacas while providing habitable and lively living space is the major design focus of my project. Instead of superimposing a new system and letting it compete with existing huacas visually and spatially, I decided to do subtraction instead of construction, extend the space into the ground and leave the ground level to the huacas. The original architectural language of the huaca is reconstructed in an inverted manner, and a new ground below the existing ground is created. The new sacred, the inverted huaca, would work mutually with the existing huacas to reinforce the cultural identity engraved on this site. And the re-articulation of the huacas also happens on the urban level- the cosmology of inca culture is represented with the constellation made of both original and the inverted huacas.
Between the original and the new inverted huaca, the freed-up ground now accommodates the agroforestry field, which is the basis of the newly introduced food system. And the food industry integrated the residences of this project, the elderly and youth under a co-living relationship, and the outsiders coming for employment and consumption. As human activities are concentrated, the presence and the cultural value of the huaca in the life of the citizens would be strongly elevated.
From the surrounding area, people would only see the relics, the green, and some tall walls indicating the entrance of communal programs and short walls leading to the underground community. But when they get closer, they would find an oasis below ground that is intimate and vibrant. The unique climatic condition of Lima shapes living space differently from other traditions- it’s open and highly social. Residents won’t feel that they are living at an underground level. But as huacas are always seen from the domestic space, the continuity from present to the past would never be wiped out of the life here.
Architects have been used to make a statement through expressive new construction. But this project is trying to release its power as an urban concentrator through the absence of expression. Being formless, simple in geometry, and barely unnoticeable from its surroundings, this project gives the space back to the huacas and local people, steps back, and hides itself behind all the space that would be vividly occupied by the people drawn here because of its presence.