In an idyllic landscape of mountains, rivers and woods, somewhere in Lima, Peru sits the Chontay House designed by Marina Vella Arquitecta. A cute pair of stone clad cottages that blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape creating an oasis of sorts within this rural region.
The intent behind the design was to not only respect the environment but also become a part of it. This would be achieved by creating a dwelling that makes use of natural materials available (stone, adobe, eucalyptus and cane) as well as traditional construction techniques. The total area of the dwelling also takes up a fairly small footprint, making use 2 volumes seperated by a shared, central, outdoor garden.
These two volumes sit on 2 different levels of the site, with a tall 68sqm volume containing living room, dining room and kitchen, as the ‘first’ part of the house you meet if coming from the main access path that goes through a small planting garden. This volume ensure light and cross ventilation via its large windows.
A slightly smaller, 67sqm volumes sits on the lower part of the site containing 3 bedroom, 2 bathrooms and the main terrace. To also ensure the bedroom’s cross ventilation and lighting low level windows are oriented towards the East and the “teatinas” (Peruvian roof windows used since colonial times) oriented towards West while the terrace is oriented towards the valley. On the outside, the central shared garden or court connects both volumes with a lovely, stepped, stone path. You could also find a hammock area, fire area, and a playground as well as gazebo, and swimming pool are surrounded by green and an orchard on the grounds of the house.
The construction of the house starts off with concrete columns, beams and slabs supported on an adjoining foundation. With that structure in place, walls were then built using aforementioned local materials. This would include the large curved drystone wall as well as the transversal walls, built using adobes made in-situ. Eucalyptus wood is the structural element that supports the “Carrizo” (reed grass) sunroof in the terrace while Recycled wood is used for the floors, doors, windows, and shutters.
Large stones found on site were selected and arranged in an ergonomic way during land movements. For the coating of soil, ornamental plants were selected on the basis of the least water need. Bougainvillea, bignonia and Jasmine are vines 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 the erosion of the land.