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51-1 is another way of referring to Lima (it is actually Lima's dialling code) and in many ways our work is deeply connected to this city and its highly distinct conditions.

The temperature never rises above 28°C or falls below 14°C; architecture does not need to create thermal insulation. It has a predominantly cloudy sky that diffuses light, and a sun that leans northward in winter and southward in summer, making daytime hours the same all year round. Architecture does not require a determinant orientation, nor major shadows or light. It never rains and there are no storms, so the architecture does not need to take precautions towards water, equally, this means that green areas are not taken for granted, and are a precious asset. Lima is a desert that took 1000 years of irrigation to be converted into a green valley; nevertheless, in the last 50 years it has been entirely urbanized over a concrete slab. In Lima, an architecture that generates green spaces is not a silly fashion, but as necessary as a toilet.

Construction (and all the economy) had been stagnant for decades, but since founding 51-1 (2005) it has grown 15% per year in an exponential real-estate boom. In recent years, there has been a lot of work available in Lima, however with construction budgets that are less than half those of our neighbouring countries, our architecture needs to be ingenious and recursive to solve its materiality. Having developed in an intensely informal culture (60%), the capacity to adapt has proven much more important than the efficiency of getting from A to B. Due to this, together with the absence of weather restrictions, we focus on generating a strong conceptual framework related to the program and context, so as to maintain the integrity of each of our projects.

In Lima, the private world is dominant, not only in the prospect of generating commissions, but also in the general idea of privatizing everything. As architects, we find ourselves constantly struggling for public space and even against public institutions (!). The defence of the common good is not assured by the regulations and most of the time, it is only supported by our ability to create it through our projects. In the context within which we work, we've found that it is essential to have an agenda that not only defines a work ethic, but that equally acts as a fundamental creative tool.

Instead of specialising, it is our interest to expand the range of our work in all directions, simultaneously: Urban Planning, Design, Teaching, Landscaping, Activism, Construction, Art, Real Estate Promotion, the hectare scale (1:10000) and the millimetre scale (1:1), the commercial order and the pro-bono, a lot of humour, and research, a lot of research! We only know how to get there working as a team. 51-1 strives to be more than the sum of its individual parts; it aims for the unification of the team and is constantly developing a working method as opposed to a style. The team is not only local and in-house, but also works with strong collaborations from all over, especially with the fellow bases of the collective Supersudaca.

© 51-1 Arquitectos.

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