explora Valle Sagrado: in Harmony with the Surroundings
The endless works, tracks and remains in Sacred Valley are the clues around which our architecture is deployed, seeking to address both earthly and sacred dimensions. A poet, philosopher and serious minded interpreter, the National Architecture Awardee José Cruz Ovalle, briefly guides us through a dialogue with the surroundings that led him to project explora Valle Sagrado.
For explora, a hotel becomes part of the place by following the pace of the landscape where it is located, establishing a relationship between proximity and distance.
José Cruz Ovalle.
In José Cruz Ovalle’s slow-paced and insightful speech every word in the sentences seems to have been carefully selected to meet a goal. This linguistic assertiveness crosses both his discourse and his work, where purpose and poetry seem to live in contradiction. Winner of the National Architecture Award 2012, it is precisely this combination which makes Cruz a conscientious interpreter of places, one of the best Chilean architects and the one in charge of designing explora Valle Sagrado.
What role does architecture play in explora’s philosophy?
explora is not simply a company devoted to the hotel-business, but something way more complex. It considers the different dimensions involved in travelling and its relationship with places. In this sense, explora´s architecture is a small-scale version of the journey itself: from the accesses to the stay and from the trips to the arriving points, it looks for a constant balance between containment and freedom.
explora has always aimed at making its style of doing things apparent in every detail of its operation. The idea is to focus on all sides of an experience to help travellers discover places on their own, not by leading but simply orienting them. Architecture provides this initial guidance almost as if it were a first exploration of the surroundings.
Just like in a journey, explora’s architecture simply has no place for business as usual or routine. As in any of its expeditions, questions will often be answered only through hints and clues and not by immediate answers.
What process do you follow as an architect to project a work in a certain place?
Each work is different depending on its purpose. In the specific case of a hotel, the first thing you need to do is showing travellers where they are to orient them. A sense of direction does not only refer to geographical coordinates but also to deeply understand and perceive the place. This is something crucial for explora: bewilderment for beauty and contemplation of the surroundings. Perceiving this beauty in its entirety is only possible in so far as you have understood the place, leaving behind any attempts to measure or obtain parameters from it, since beauty has no parameters beyond itself.
This is where architecture gains relevance, since to the extent that the architect has truly understood the place he/she will be able to discover its pace through a dialogue with its history, geography, weather and other specifics, extracting the “genius locci” that distinguishes it. Following this track, the architect will shape spaces to match it, so that travellers in turn can perceive the beauties of the surroundings. That is the process experienced in every work: finding the pace of the relevant setting.
How this understanding did took place in the case of Sacred Valley?
We could say that Sacred Valley is nature exalted by the hand of men during centuries, with countless works, tracks and vestiges. Each vestige is a clue, but also something specific belonging to America: the hybridization showing up after the Spaniard conquest between the Incan and the conquerors’ architecture. This is apparent in the house of Mateo Pumacahua –which is also part of the hotel– where Spaniards built their work precisely on top of the Incas’ platform wall, like in the case of Cusco.
Is there any difference between works projected in Peru and those in Chile?
There are of course differences. These places are completely different, but I understand that your question is more referred to borders. Both for me and for explora there are no borders but territories. So what travellers praise is the full extent of America’s vastness; and this vision of life applies to all four of explora’s hotels. They are different because of the territory, not due to the country.