Built by the Spanish in 1681, this church of Santiago Apóstol is located in Kuño Tambo, Peru. Santiago Apóstol, perched at 13,000 feet in Peru’s Andes Mountains, is architecturally pristine. More than three centuries old this church is considered by many a unique one, not just for its age but for other reasons too. Do you know why?
Due to its age, this church, built of mud bricks, was in bad condition till a few years ago. Brick walls were affected by erosion, roofs were leaking, murals were peeling off – in short, the church had become unsafe for prayers.
This church was built in earthquake-prone zone and had survived many quakes in the past. In 2007 and 2009, earthquakes had devastated the region and had killed many – but this mud structure stood unaffected, thus portraying architectural and structural talent of the people who built it three centuries ago.
So, it was decided to restore this unique church without affecting its original texture and structure. The Seismic Retrofitting Project was handed over to Los Angeles-based Getty Conservation Institute, an institute known for its experience and knowledge in traditional practices for stabilizing structures in areas prone to earthquakes.
Getty team didn’t right away start the job of retrofitting once the task was given to them. Nearly for a year the team conducted a series of workshops with the villagers before actually taking up the task of retrofitting. Objective was to implement the project with low-cost and low-tech repairs and also if proved successful to use this approach to strengthen buildings all over the world. It may be noted that the Adobe mud bricks are one of the world’s most commonly used building materials.
Finally, this, an almost ancient church was retrofitted which has doubled its seismic resilience and above all, this has been achieved at a cost of just $ 1.5 million. Also, with this project it has been proved that traditional techniques can be used extensively by architects and engineers throughout the world.