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Craft Community Center – Taquile

Some years ago my colleague and friend Rosana Correa and I were commissioned to do an interesting project for the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism and Foreign Trade. We were assigned the remodeling of the Craft Community Center on Taquile Island located on Lake Titicaca – a three to four-hour boat ride from Puno.

The Taquile community is well known for their handmade fabrics. They have a whole symbolic language woven into their textile patterns and colors, which UNESCO certifies as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage”.

Our project was to transform the former school building – an old concrete structure in bad condition – to a new two-level community center where the resident weavers and artisans could show and sell their products.

After several planning meetings and trips to Taquile, we developed the project’s objectives. We recommended using local materials, relocating the stairs for a better use of the space and to improve the air circulation.

We proposed materials such as stone, wood, and natural fibers on the walls, a large roof to encompass all the spaces, including a cozy Cafe where people could relax and stay to eat or drink something while enjoying the view of Titicaca Lake.

We also proposed using warm materials for the interior design: bamboo on the ceilings, woven totora reed with wooden frameworks, and other materials that would lighten the interior and represent the local culture. The building remodel and interior design work were done simultaneously. We covered the interior columns with mirrors to reflect and enhance the natural window light and create a more open space, design and chose specific furniture that rotates and moves so that the visitors would have an interactive experience when using those pieces, and sought to take advantage of every square meter to give members of the community as much space as possible to exhibit their crafts and culture.