In February 2013 the Earthen Architecture Initiative's Seismic Retrofitting Project (SRP) undertook its most recent field campaign in Peru. The SRP is providing seismic retrofitting solutions for historic earthen buildings developed by the GCI and its partners—University College London, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, and the Ministerio de Cultura del Perú—for use in countries where equipment, structural skills, and materials for seismic retrofitting are not readily available.
In Peru the SRP is designing and testing these methods on four types of historic earthen buildings. Using these buildings as case studies, the project will provide low-tech and easy-to-implement retrofitting techniques and maintenance programs for historic earthen buildings in South America to improve their seismic performance while preserving their historic fabric.
One of the prototype buildings under study is the Church of Santiago de Kuño Tambo in Cusco. This seventeenth-century adobe church has decorated surfaces that need to be assessed and protected prior to any retrofitting intervention. During the first week of the campaign, the GCI, in collaboration with Carleton University in Ottawa, conducted orthophotography of the church's wall paintings. Led by the GCI's Leslie Rainer, a wall paintings conservator, the team undertook a rapid assessment of the wall paintings to define the methodology for an upcoming condition assessment. The final day included a session to discuss graphic and condition assessment techniques for wall paintings, with colleagues of the Cusco branch of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, the Archbishopric of Cusco, and the local community. A grant to support conservation of the church is being provided by the Friends of Heritage Preservation—a small, private association of individuals that seeks to promote cultural identity through the preservation of significant endangered artistic and historic works, artifacts, and sites.
During the second week, the team traveled to Ica to visit the Cathedral of Ica. This eighteenth-century adobe and quincha structure—another of the project's prototype buildings—was heavily damaged by the 2007 Pisco earthquake. The project team met with bishop Monsignor Vera Colona and the architects and structural engineers undertaking the seismic retrofitting work, to discuss the development of the SRP-designed retrofitting construction documents for the cathedral. During the team's week in Ica, the minister of culture of Peru, Luis Peirano, joined with the GCI team to define the project's next steps and to view the cathedral's recently installed temporary shoring.
In the next campaigns, the GCI and its partners will conduct the condition assessment and protection of the Kuño Tambo wall paintings and finalize the construction drawings for the retrofitting of this church and the cathedral. The final outcome of the project will be the implementation of the retrofitting projects for Ica Cathedral and Kuño Tambo as model projects and the creation of a set of guidelines to implement retrofitting techniques and maintenance programs in similar buildings in South America.