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Ecolodge in Pucallpa

In 2008 I received a request to design an Ecolodge in Pucallpa, a city located at the eastern part of Peru’s Amazon rainforest. At 200m.a.s.l. and temperatures ranging from 17 to 34°C. With an annual precipitation from 1600 to 4500mm, the humidity had to be considered in the design process.

This Eco-villa would follow the Agnihotra concepts and Homa Therapy principles. That means balancing the agricultural, ecological, touristic, and healing art aspects in the lodge’s mission design.

The 18 hectares (54 acres) of land would include, through sustainable projects the following: 12 bungalows, services like restaurants and healing retreats, spaces for workshops and conferences (designed as multipurpose rooms), as well as a nursery, gardens and field crops, a barn, farm product processing areas, storage spaces, hiking trails, along with the proper administration, and guardianship for each.

On the first trip, I visited the project´s site and some small towns in the area to collect information about local building materials. I found mainly bamboo (Paca) and wood, as well as palm branches – like Yarina or Shebón – used for roofing along with a fiber-like rope (or Tamshi) used to bundle and tie them down to the roof frame. I also visited Pucallpa´sUniversity. After interviewing several engineers, I realized that there was almost no Thesis or information about bamboo construction, even though this material was used extensively in the local architecture.

I went back to Lima, did some research and invited architect and friend Jesus Peña to join me in this new adventure. Jesus and I made a trip to walk and assess the land (part of the 18 ha.) with a guide and the owner. The land had some dense primary forest where you had to cut your way through with a machete. We also visited the neighbors and talked in detail with the owner and project investor regarding the project.

Back in Lima, Jesus and I started an office with a third associate architect and friend Georgette Moldauer. After much hard work and help from a group of students, including Karen Matos, and Tania Arévalo, our proposal caught the attention of the professional community. We presented our proposal at the Bamboo Congress at la Universidad de los Andes, Bogota – Colombia. We were then invited to present the project in the Congress gallery.

The project had different components – including the principles described above – along with permaculture. The land planning also took into account the slopes, the river, densely forested areas (for conservation purposes), and recreational areas.

We designed several bamboo buildings using a geometric structure to provide self-supporting strength and open, well ventilated areas. Jesus Peña and Roxana Garrido researched and developed the open-weave bamboo Panel-Panal that provided the natural ventilation for the enclosed spaces.

Some of the lattice panels were filled with a reddish mud that is typical of the soils around the Amazon. Our design allows the easy building´s expantion. We chose wood for the foundation and floors, and palm for roofs and covers. The design incorporated also barriers that would keep insects out of the sleeping areas. Every building in the Ecolodge follows a basic modul and «Par y Nudillo» (pair and knuckle) patterns to strengthen the structure. The joins are mostly repeated for a systematized construction.