Julia: Tell me about the museum you are designing, how that commission came about and what your vision for the building is?
Lucho: We are designing the National museum of Peru. It will house some 500,000 of Peru’s archaeological treasures.
The project began as an architectural competition, open to Peruvian architects; our team was made up of 4 architects: Alexia León, Paulo Dam, José Canziani and myself.
It would be difficult to explain the vision for the project in a few words, but it was our intention to respect the cultural and archaeological landscape of Pachacamac. The building is compact and inscribes itself into the landscape with 60% of its square meters built underground. The permanent collections galleries will be below grade, and the more social spaces will be above ground, connected visually by a central atrium.
JS: What is different about the process of designing a museum? What are some of the challenges that you are facing for the first time?
LM: Every project is different and in that sense everything is challenging, as it should be. Specifically, the museum´s scale and the complexity of the program have been a challenge. The building has to include a permanent collection, temporary collections, investigation center, children´s museum, restaurants, bar, administration, store, parking etc. Working with the State and a whole set of new and unfamiliar rules have been a challenge as well. The key to surviving this process is patience and tenacity.
JS: Why make a garden on the roof? What ambitions do you have with that aspect of the project?
LM: A roof garden makes a lot of sense in this scenario. In order to understand the ancient construction of the central Andes region, you have to understand the pivotal role that agriculture played. An edible roof garden makes those connections visible. Children are also an important part of our visiting public, and I think it’s important for them to understand what plants and crops are indigenous to this land.
JS: We made your salad(s) at one of your clients’ homes. Do you usually have such a close relationship with your clients? It was so generous of them to have us.
LM: Most of our projects last anywhere between 3 and 4 years so it’s best to get along, and we usually do. In the end, the project is something we’ve built together.
JS: Your friends tell me you are completely obsessed with food and cooking. That you take group vacations to the beach, but you never leave the kitchen. What compels you to cook? Have you ever wanted to make a profession out of it?
LM: My friends exaggerate. I’d just rather spend my time in the kitchen than in the sun. For me, ooking is about learning — how do you take all this produce, calculate the quantities, combine and transform them with heat, or even just figuring out how to juxtopose two ingredients next to one. In some ways, it’s similar to architecture.
JS: You and Jean Edouard had an incredible chemistry in the kitchen, both bossing each other around equally. Is this an ideal working relationship?
LM: Jean Edouard actually knows what he’s doing, I’m just trying to keep up. I guess we were bossing each other around because we were trying to impress our guests, who really do know something about food.Generally though, it’s more laid back.
JS: You and Alexia are a team. Can you tell me a bit about the dynamic between you two?
LM: I thought when we started working together that I would finally be able to work less, but no. She makes me work twice as hard! We maintain our independence on small projects and collaborate on all the large buildings and competitions. It’s only been four years, so we’re still figuring it out…but it works.
JS: What brought you back to Peru after living in Spain for so long? What opportunities does Lima offer that Europe did not?
LM: I came back to Peru just in time for my daughter´s birth. I was born here, I have family here, it all made sense, personally and professionally. To work on these incredible projects, with someone as talented as Alexia….that was only possible here, in Peru.