51-1 is another way to refer to Lima (it is actually Lima's telephone code) and in many ways our work is deeply connected to that place with such particular conditions.
It's never hotter than 28°C and never colder than 14°C; architecture doesn't need to create thermal insulation. It has a predominantly cloudy sky that diffuses light, and a sun that leans towards the north in winter and south on summer, making daytime hours the same all over the year. Architecture doesn't require a determinant orientation, nor major shadows or light. It never rains and there are no storms, so architecture doesn't need to take precautions towards water, but as it never rains, green areas are not taken for granted, they're a precious asset. Lima is a desert that took 1000 years of irrigation to be converted into a green valley, but in the last 50 years all has been urbanized over a concrete slab. In Lima an architecture that generates green area is not a silly fashion, but as necessary as a toilet.
Construction (and all the economy) was stagnant for decades, but since we started 51-1 (2005) it has grown 15% per year in a vertiginous real-estate boom. In the last years there's a lot of work in Lima, but with construction budgets which are less than the half that in neighboring countries, so our architecture needs to be ingenious and recursive to solve its materiality. Having grown surrounded by an intense culture of informality (60%), flexibility of adaptation has proven to be much more important than the efficiency from going straight from point A to point B. Due to this -and the absence of weather restrictions- we put a lot of attention on generating a strong conceptual framework related to the program and the context in order to keep the integrity of each project.
In Lima, the private world is hegemonic, not only in the possibility to generate commissions, but in the generalized idea of privatizing everything and as architects we find ourselves constantly struggling for the public space, even against public institutions (!). The defense of the common good is not assured by the regulations and most of time it's only supported by our possibility of creating it with the project. In the context where we work, we've found that it's essential to have an agenda that not only defines a work ethic, but it's also a fundamental creative instrument.
Instead of specializing, it's our interest to expand the range of our work in all directions and at the same time: Urbanism, Planning, Design, Teaching, Landscaping, Activism, Construction, Art, Real-estate Promotion, the hectare scale (1:10000) and the millimeter scale (1:1), the commercial order and the pro-bono, a lot of humor, research, a lot of research. To get there, we only know how to do it working as a team. 51-1 makes a great effort in being more than the sum of the individualities of its partners; it aims for the collectivization of the team and is constantly developing a working method instead of a style. The team is not only local and in-house, but also works with intense collaborations from all over, especially with the other bases of the collective that is a part of: Supersudaca.