Geography of a Home

authors Barclay & Crousse
projects Huayoccari House, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Peru
written by Fabrizio Foti


The Sacred Valley of Urubamba is situated at 2,950 meters above sea level and protected by the mountain tops that the people of Inca considered to be holy. Among the rocky peaks of the mountains that rise from the colourful mosaic of the corn fields in the valley, the snowy ridge of Pitusiray peak stands out and dominates Huayoccari.
The advantage of Huayoccari’s location is its favourable position on a slightly elevated plateau above the agricultural valley and the mountain complex supporting it on the north-east side. The location provides a fascinating view of the Sacred Valley: a calming perspective of the southwest, from the position which makes it seem that the Andes close the whole spacious landscape system into a large room under a clear sky. It is as if the Andes, which rise like some city walls, are rooted in the huge herbal plateau. Upon looking at this closed world, we realise that the geography of the location is the result of the long-term activity of water; rain and melted snow pour down the steep mountain slopes, shaping slanted roofs, and reach the ground where, collected in water flows and channels, they outline the valley and draw a geometric pattern of the field.
With ease and intelligence, men from the valley have always followed what is written in the nature of the events and engraved in geographic forms. They have also been insightful observers, willingly accepting that their process of territorialisation has had to follow and reinterpret the same natural qualities that created the Sacred Valley, and geometrising them through their own products and taming processes. The result is a significant product of high aesthetic quality. The landscape of the Sacred Valley is so appealing because of the balance maintained between the continuous activity of the nature and human activity.
A house designed by the Barclay & Crousse studio is located at the Huayoccari plateau and faces the south-west basin of the Urubamba River. The house is located on the top of a series of terraced gardens into which the slightly slanted terrain is broken down. The altitude is ideal for a perfect perspective on the whole basin system. It appears as if this architectural creation wants to present the shaping of the surrounding geography by water activity while developing a strategy of new territorialisation on the level of a home, designed from the physically shaped qualities of its surrounding. Since it acts as a result of the desire for implementation of the Zen doctrine or Inca Crianza, the house uses shapes and behaviours of the location, thus depriving the nature of its inaccessibility. It is achieved by generalising and reducing geographical facts and their manifestations, and reducing them to the core, stripped of everything superfluous, by transforming the topological into geometrical and material.