Connecting people to place__Barclay & Crousse

Ecogradia
Ecogradia
Connecting people to place__Barclay & Crousse
Loading
/

Connecting people to place__Barclay & Crousse

Sponsored by

Sponsored by

Ecogradia
Ecogradia
Connecting people to place__Barclay & Crousse
Loading
/
Apple PodcastsSpotify

Many countries in the developing South seek pathways to a sustainable future. Peru-based architecture firm Barclay & Crousse offers a prism on what this looks like, when it is anchored to the specifics of people, climate and place.

Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse, co-founders of the firm, are interested the impact of architecture on the human condition, in ways that are both physical and visceral. Their buildings offer experiences of space, time, and light, and seek to connect us to each other and with systems that operate on and beyond site.

The studio, founded in 1994 in Paris and now based in Lima, Peru since 2006, is the recipient of multiple international awards, with projects that are predominantly residential and institutional.

Episode outline

00:04:04 “We need to heal, heal our planet, but we can’t heal our planet if we don’t heal ourselves first, if we don’t change radically the way we live.”
00:05:05 “I will say that I like the words awareness and consciousness and that for that it’s important to connect your reality with other realities.”
00:08:39 Designing for sensing and remembering
00:09:07 “Most societies in this traumatic period of history, they try to heal by forgetting, and I think it’s much deeper and much more difficult, but much more sustainable to heal remembering.”
00:15:19 The building section as a starting point
00:22:42 “I think […] the word connection is really related with our work. We are meant to connect people, connect spaces, connect context with the spaces, connect community with and the building or with activities.”
00:25:54 “We started by the section, the section was driven or driving the project, and then the section should be as intelligent as the plan. The plan should be as intelligent as the section.”
00:27:55 Choosing materials in context
00:28:27 “I think the real mistake in that vision of sustainability is that in fact there are no sustainable materials. In fact, there are only sustainable conditions for each material.”
00:32:03 “We are able to use local people to employ local people for construction. We are not seeking for perfect concrete. […] we like concrete with imperfections.”
00:35:02 “When you don’t have a very well-organised community and you live in a relatively poor country, buildings should last […] They can be transformed into new things that you haven’t figured out when you were designing. And that’s a quality of sustainability.”
00:43:32 “I think it has never been more interesting to be an architect than now because we have to go beyond the building in order to understand what we should do.”

Summary

In this episode, Sandra and Jean Pierre discuss several key positions on sustainable design for Peru.

Sandra Barclay and Jean Pierre Crousse are directly involved in the design of each of their projects.
© Barclay & Crousse

First, a building must judiciously use what is available, including climate as resource. Parts of the country experience benign seasons when the outdoors is comfortable. Working with climate, they minimise reliance on electro-mechanical systems that would consume energy for indoor comfort.

They also actively seek out materials that align with local skillsets and tap on availability. In Peru, for instance, the question of timber versus concrete favours the latter because it has a lower environmental impact, is durable and supports the economy.

Second, the section of a building — at the drawing board — is as important as its plan. The intelligence of a solution depends on connectivity. And this starts by understanding the human experience of scale, the porosity of form, access to views, daylight and natural air flows, all of which, together, increase the possibility of social interactions.

Universidad de Piura’s Edificio E promotes informal learning through the casual exchange of ideas between students and teachers in a soothing microclimatic condition.
© Cristóbal Palma / Barclay & Crousse

Universidad de Piura’s Edificio E (Piura, Peru), for instance, was designed as a network of social spaces between classrooms to enhance students’ engagement with teachers. To make this possible, these spaces offer a microclimate with pockets of shade, coolness and fresh air.

The facades of Edificio E are equipped with vertical louvers and prefab trellis depending on the orientation in the tropical setting.
© Cristóbal PalmaBarclay & Crousse
The monolithic building is a group of interconnected spaces with varying heights and cantilevered roofs.
© Cristóbal PalmaBarclay & Crousse

Third, architecture must seek to heal. And healing starts with the act of remembering (say, past social trauma or damage to ecosystems) and continues with awareness and reflection. Here, architecture offers an opportunity to rethink one’s place in time, through movement, pause and release.

This approach is seen in projects such as Place of Remembrance (Lima, Peru). The building is conceived as a procession. Inside, visitors encounter exhibitions explaining a difficult period of societal trauma; outside, the journey culminates in an open space where they witness the spectacle of nature.

Harmoniously inserted into the terrain, Place of Remembrance offers a public plaza overlooking the Pacific.
© Cristóbal Palma /Barclay & Crousse
The building has simple architectural strategies for acoustic and visual comfort. It also achieves efficiency in the consumption of water and energy.
© Cristóbal Palma / Barclay & Crousse

Sandra and Jean Pierre describe their office as a laboratory of sorts where ideas are prototyped and tested. Many of their bigger projects emerge from early experiments in private houses.

Vedoble Houses in Cañete (Peru) experimented with “indoor exteriors”: how to reconcile domestic intimacy with the vastness of nature.
© Cristóbal PalmaBarclay & Crousse

This conversation with Barclay and Crousse upends assumptions about what sustainability means, how it looks and what it is made of. In presenting what works for/in Peru, Sandra and Jean Pierre make a case for a regionalist, context-specific approach, one that acknowledges global goals, but nonetheless chooses its own pathway and measures of success.

Gallery

Images

Videos

Episode Notes

Keep reading if you want to deep dive into this interview’s content and get more out of it. You can also find out more about this episode’s guest/s and sponsor/s, and the team that put it all together.

This episode is brought to you by:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognises the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with a recognised platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

W  |  holcimfoundation.org

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

This episode is brought to you by:

The Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction

The Holcim Foundation helps drive systemic change towards a more sustainable built environment. It was founded in 2003 to define and promote the key principles of sustainability for the construction sector and is committed to accelerating the sector’s transformation so that people and the planet can thrive.

The Foundation has investigated various aspects of sustainable construction via a series of roundtables and conferences with international experts. It has also recognised excellent contributions to this field with the Holcim Awards which are considered the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.

Committed to a holistic approach that recognises the equal importance and interdependence of four key goals, the Foundation combines the collective knowledge, ideas, and solutions of our global community of experts with a recognised platform of international competitions to democratise thought leadership for the entire sector.

W  |  holcimfoundation.org

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  |  YouTube  |  Instagram

As mentioned in this episode

If you heard it in this episode, we likely have a link for it right here. Click on any topics, people, buildings, places, products and/or technologies listed below to learn more about each of them.

00:24:33 “…the middle of Carob tree forest is a tropical…”
Carob Tree” | Food Forest Design
00:30:26 “…make cement comes from hydroelectrical plants…”
Hydroelectric Power” | Britannica
00:05:34 “…as Humboldt did, for example…”
Alexander von Humboldt” | Britannica
00:34:35 “…like the ones that have been studied by Rahul Mehrotra in India…”
Rahul Mehrotra” | RMA Architects
00:39:23 “…one that was the Peruvian Hugo Chávez…”
Hugo Chávez” | Britannica
00:05:31 “…of this transversal section of Peru…”
Peru” | Britannica
00:05:39 “…ocean and go through the Andes…”
Andes Mountains” | Britannica
00:05:43 “…arrived through the Amazonian basin towards Brazil…”
Amazon basin” | Britannica
00:05:43 “…arrived through the Amazonian basin towards Brazil…”
Brazil” | Britannica
00:08:58 “…And so, this building – this Place of Remembrance…”
Place of Remembrance in Lima, Peru by Barclay and Crousse” | The Architectural Review
00:09:40 “…the cliff that separates Lima…”
Lima” (Peru) | Britannica
00:15:31 “…this is the UDEP lecture building…”
UDEP Lecture Building / BARCLAY&CROUSSE Architecture | ArchDaily
00:31:16 “…You bring floors from Germany or wood from Chile…”
Germany” | Britannica
00:31:16 “…You bring floors from Germany or wood from Chile…”
Chile” | Britannica
00:34:35 “…like the ones that have been studied by Rahul Mehrotra in India…”
India” | Britannica
00:26:31 “…south vertical louvres will be okay…”
Horizontal vs. Vertical Louvers: Main Uses, Pros and Cons” | United Enertech

There are no product and technologies mentioned for this episode.

Host
Nirmal Kishnani

Producer
Maxime Flores

Managing editor
Kruti Choksi Kothari

Senior communications executive
Sana Gupta

Senior editor
Tyler Yeo

Art director
Alexander Melck | Phlogiston

Sound technician and editor
Kelvin Brown | Phlogiston

Video editors
Guellor Muguruka | Phlogiston
Madelein Myburgh | Phlogiston

Graphic designer
Stian van Wyk | Phlogiston

 

You can follow us and share your views on

If you like this episode and want to hear more, head to one of these podcast directories

Apple PodcastsSpotify

or other listening apps where you follow podcasts. There, you can listen to other Ecogradia episodes and write a review.

Better still, subscribe to our podcast today. Every new episode will be automatically downloaded on your chosen device, ready to be enjoyed offline, anytime, anywhere. And by doing so, you’ll be helping us produce even more great content.

Navigating conservation and social equity, Brinda Somaya reveals how these considerations blend into a position on sustainability in India. She offers a blueprint for design that is low-impact, contextual, and compassionate.
Traditional architecture is a melting pot of history, culture and knowledge-systems spanning centuries. Its continued decline globally begs the question: what can the past offer to the present and the future?
Explore the reality of greenery in architecture — pragmatic sustainability or mere aesthetics? Leonard Ng navigates the fine line, urging honesty in distinguishing between environmental impact and visual appeal.
Follow us on

Recent podcast episodes

Recent blog posts

Recommended episodes from the podcast

Traditional architecture is a melting pot of history, culture and knowledge-systems spanning centuries. Its continued decline globally begs the question: what can the past offer to the present and the future?
Explore the reality of greenery in architecture — pragmatic sustainability or mere aesthetics? Leonard Ng navigates the fine line, urging honesty in distinguishing between environmental impact and visual appeal.
Tackling the carbon dilemma requires a fresh perspective. Stuart Smith reveals how considering a building’s entire life cycle impact can simplify carbon reduction decisions, guiding us towards more sustainable choices.

Leave a comment

Before posting, please review our comment policy here.

0 0 votes
Rate this post
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments