PORTFOLIO 13 - House on Lake Atitlan, Santa Catarina Palopo, 

GUATEMALA

Requirements

Begun as a 'concept' in the 1960s by Architect Peter Blake, based on the sustaining of the steep site with a retaining wall, a design was built, which then was proposed to be upgraded and expanded in the early 2000s. Collaboration with renowned Guatemalan Architect Peter Giesemann involved a dialogue between us, a creative 'back-and-forth' respecting the opinions and aesthetics mutually.

This project involved the necessary replacement of the house, due to both the anticipated upgrade after 40 years, and a catastrophic Site failure which left no choice but to remove the existing building.

The site context offered a fortuitous acquisition of an empty parcel to the South, shared with a neighbor. As may be seen in the photos, it became imperative to demolish the existing structure due to the physical instability of the land. In fact, an aggressive stabilization involved driving both perpendicular and vertical "nails" to prevent further failure. In addition, the new structure was sited, in part, within the acquired property.  

Solution

The resolution of all these conditions consisted of re-writing the House geometry, while "recalling" the site condition of a retaining wall to stabilize the topography of the hill. A feature was retained by deliberately having the old wall, while stabilized, to 'penetrate' the new House, terminating at the upper level Entry and at the First Floor Guest Bathroom.

A regular geometry was superimposed as a form-generator, whose repetitive structure rendered a clarity when seen in relation to the contrasting Site conditions.

A progression of spatial gridding establishes the modular geometry integrating all spaces as one continuous fabric.  The variation in the formal treatment of the Form is elaborated  by a rich texture of space, light, and color through minor moves away from the regularity of the basic geometry, referencing the irregularity of the existing retaining wall. In addition to its solution of formal problems, the intervention evokes a sense of outdoor living appropriate to the specific context, climate and culture of having a "front porch" under the outdoor extensions of Decks.

PETER BLAKE scheme
Proposed First Floor
Adapting the existing House by revising/expanding/upgrading the facilities.
Proposed Second Floor
Shown overlaid on the First Floor, proposing a 'bridge' connection in a double-height volume.
Site Failure - 2013
As the Lake rises and falls every year, a large unseen boulder was pulled away.
Overall Terrace Failure
View looking South illustrates the conundrum of "starting over".
SITE view 1
A failure resulted in a collapse at the North end of the Site
SITE  view 2
The result was the necessity of demolishing an outdated existing Structure, as may be seen from debris.
INITIAL SITE
Plan view documents the resulting Footprint.
NEW SITE
Stabilized North end shown; joint acquisition of adjacent South parcel with a neighbor, permitted relocation.
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