Name of Project: Urubamba Garden
Garden surface: 12 ha
Construction year: 2009
Location: Sacred Valley, Urubamba, Cuzco, Peru
Architect of hotel: Bernardo Fort
From the outset, this assignment seemed fascinating, as the chance of relating to the architecture of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a civilization that I admire so much, plus the possibility of having species that flourish in that latitude of the Andes Cordillera as part of the design, is not something that occurs every day.
The task was to implement a landscaping Project in a 14-hectare park, the grounds surrounding a luxury hotel situated on the river Vilcanota, near the village of Urubamba, 70 km from Machu Picchu. I was asked to preserve a 3-hectare forest of native species, a strip of old eucalyptus trees at the edge of the river. For everything else, I was granted complete freedom.
The objective of this project was to maximize the potential of the site’s own landscape, which has a mountainous and fertile character. I was inspired by the geometry of the Incas, from the great efficiency of their layered cropping systems and from the immense hydraulic wisdom behind their irrigation systems.
For the design, I considered elements of water and stone, the incorporation of native flora and the layout of pedestrian paths.
In the access to the hotel, we formed a sunken garden, cleft by three canals that represent the slopes of the Andean mountain ravines. The mountain range is located in front of the façade, so that the waters descending from it symbolically cross the valley and feed the pond situated at the entrance to the hotel. With the garden surrounding it, a circuit is established that the passengers walk along when they enter the hotel.
Because not all the hotel rooms had a river view, I suggested creating a lagoon in the heart of the garden that would act as a center of attraction both for the moving water and for the surrounding vegetation. And so, we created a new landscape in that place.
To give identity to the garden I took advantage of the site’s topography and used elements such as stone platforms, gutters, waterfalls, ponds, paths, shapes with angles, and breaks. All these components respond to the sculptural look of the Andean range and evoke it in the design.
With respect to the vegetation, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there were no nurseries in the area to supply the plants, which forced me to study the local flora and go out with botanical specialists to collect seeds and cuttings. With these, we formed a nursery for the native species that belong to that majestic landscape. We were very successful in achieving the first objective, which was to supply the project. With the passage of the years, now that the garden is established, permits are in process to declare it a botanical garden in view of the collection’s unquestionable patrimonial value, the excellent development of the plants, and the site’s compatibility with the necessary requirements.