Riofrío + Rodrigo Arquitectos’ latest residential project is a testament to the firm’s commitment to minimalist but effective design. The three-storied House Playa Las Palmeras relies on an unusual angular design to not only complement but also be consciously conspicuous in the surrounding green and beach environs of Lima.
Riofrío + Rodrigo Arquitectos’ project in Playa Las Palmeras Panamericana Sur in Lima, Peru, is instantly noticeable on account of its nondescript facade. The angular face of this structure is shaped like a wonky piece of a jigsaw puzzle, with a window in the middle serving as the meeting point of its floors. The uncomplicated first impression of this project is reminiscent of a modern-day ‘Stonehenge’, which makes the details of its exterior and interior design even more fascinating.
Located on a genteel tract near a lush green park land, the building is a conscious refrain from indulgence in colour. The main wall is swathed in white/muted beige, lending the three-storied building a hovering quality. The architects’ plan was to build a “compact and solid, but at the same time harmonic, structure that worked as a big carved block.” The seemingly monolithic structure the designers have conjured up fulfils their ambition well, giving the cookie-cut surroundings a dash of avant-garde.
The whole building works on a three axis format. The first axis is horizontal and steered to the park. Perpendicular to it is the second axis which is vertical and looks towards the sky; the third one directs the view towards the ocean. The towering opacity of the front facade gives way to glass walls on the sides, affording an expansive view of the interiors.
It is apparent that the axes rule the spaces here – they astutely divide the spaces into the parking, the living area, and the parking and services area. The one quirky, yet effective change is that the “social areas” have been elevated to the top floor, to take a maximum advantage of the beach view.
By a “harmonic” design, the architects envisaged a space that is modern, with the right amount of homely warmth. They ensured the latter by providing a generous acreage of glass walls that bathe the interiors in superb Peruvian sunshine.
The beach end is where the architectural vision of this project truly comes together. Here, what started as a strait-laced execution of a rather bold shape becomes an in-your-face concrete performance art reminiscent of Schwarzenegger’s ammunition in The Terminator. Multiple elements of the building eject out in airborne beauty and stare out at the sea. One of the features is a wide patio and seating spot with enough floor area to hold formal dinners, casual get-togethers and hung-over breakfasts all at the same time without disrupting each other.
In spite of the attention grabbing possibilities that this project presents, Riofrío + Rodrigo Arquitectos has made conscious efforts to include private spaces that cloak the otherwise open-to-the-elements feel. Edged out by wide walls of pristine white, the interiors continue to play out the minimalist tune, with plain light brown flooring with an even textural feel. The unusual shape of the walls and tall columns casting long shadows accords the interiors a look of a modern home that thinks geometrically correct.
But as evidence that there is no consummate aversion to colours, the architect duo has introduced a brilliant connecting facet to the building. Marrying the services floor to the social area is a sinewy staircase that has sunshine bouncing off broad stepping slabs and forming placid patterns on the walls, as befits a house near a beach. But the best part of this addition is not its quaint wall-hugging pose but its crackling blue-green paint drapery. All the colour hunger of the building evaporates at this caved-in corner tribute to the ocean. The stairway remains unobtrusive, but at the same time accords character to the space.
House Playa Las Palmeras draws strongly from the vision of Riofrío + Rodrigo Arquitectos, set up in 2007, by Roberto Riofrío Navarro and Micaela Rodrigo Graña. Their residential projects have become their leitmotif, and their idea of conjuring up unconventional structures with more traditional interiors reflects well in their latest project.
Photographs Courtesy Elsa Ramirez