Lima Day 4

Only a half day of work today, and most of it wasn’t me, but Frances and Douglas working with Nicholas designing a small demonstration urban agricultural installation for Parque La Muralla. This afternoon Douglas and I went with Erika (SAIC alum and translator) for a walk through Miraflores, the neighborhood we are staying in. Despite its relative safety, EVERYTHING is gated and security camera-ed and barbed wire-d.

We went to Huaca Pucllana, one of many ancient pyramids that dot the city. This was built by the Lima culture sometime in the first half of the first millenium AD and then occupied by the Wari, who came from Ayacucho, long before the Inca (who came from Cuzco).

This is what it looks like when you encounter it, just a big mud hill in the middle of a quiet residential neighborhood. But then you see the unmistakable signs of anastylosis….

Turns out this vertical brick construction is fairly unique, and an amazing amount of it has been subject to anastylosis since its was “uncovered” and protected from the motocross enthusiasts 30 years ago in 1981. It is hard to imagine how long it took to put it back together.

It is an impressive pyramid, and the selective reconstruction works pretty well. You can even see places where the original construction survived, which is fairly distinct from the reconstruction, as shown here:

There is a large plaza on one side of the pyramid which was used for a market in the prehistoric area and weddings and other events in the modern era. Here you can see evidence of wedge-shaped columns of vertical bricks that act like a sort of PreColumbian Warren truss for the long span of the adobe walls. This is the sort of thing us architecture geeks go for big time….

Of course one of the great advantages of adobe construction, and of this vertical brick system is its resistance to seismic events, which happen A LOT around here. But this stuff has been sitting pretty for over 1,500 years. In terms of the reconstruction (which I suppose is not strictly speaking anastylosis, since they apparently made some new mud bricks), I was interested to see this series of grid lines laid out in string for a section that was to be rebuilt…

Now, I am also interested in how historic and archaeological sites are interpreted, and this one combined several methods, including a live guide (they don’t let you go on your own for obvious reasons) as well as a limited amount of signage, especially up top where they have excavated and recreated Wari tombs.

Down in the ground level area they have full-scale figures to interpret both the construction of the site by laborers and the ritual use of the site (lotsa human sacrifice as you might expect).

The guide on the right is real. Whatever that means. Since this huaca, like so many in Lima, is right smack in the middle of town, there are cool views to new construction from the ancient reconstruction, creating a nice palimpsest (yes, I went there!) of building techniques over time.

They also have a section where they show local plants like cotton and corn and sweet potato and local fauna like llama and alpaca, well, just because, you know…

Okay, back to architectural geekitude. So, we are on top of the huaca and we see the COOLEST parabolic concrete arch 1960s church in the distance. It is super high modern but then it has these singular fussy volutes just stuck on it in the barest gesture to the Baroque flavor of the place…

So of course we have to go see it, which is well worth the trip. There are a few other fussy details, like the hopeless lannon-stone style cladding on the lower portion, but the parabolic vaults are FANTASTIC and dig those circular piercings on the front!

Great stuff, despite the dischordant little volutes and the spiked cross on top, reminiscent of every house in the city…


So then we headed for the coast, scooting down Avenida Santa Cruz, where we encountered a Ralph Rapson wannabe screen facade decorating a concrete shed, made with oddly oxidized steel supporting a moderately able arrangement of two-by-fours.

This was followed quickly by what Erika correctly termed a Mondrian, done in a nice convex plan that somehow recalled the 1980s despite the palette.

One of the surprising things down here is actually the economy. They are building buildings like crazy and there are tons of help wanted signs everywhere. Like, not what we have at home in our portion of America.
It seems all of the houses along the coast have been replaced in the last couple of weeks by new highrises….

This super skinny example combines some 60s fetishistic detailing with the ubiquitous post-1995 half-a-shallow-arch roof (what do we call those and why have they never appeared before and are we tired of them already?)

But you can still find a few houses, like this Spanish Colonial, which for once makes a lot of sense, since Peru was once a Spanish colony.

Or this Tudor. Now, I kind of like Tudor, and we did see a fair number of sort of indigenous local fachwerkbau in the Cercado, but I have NEVER seen anyone go so Tudor with a garage door as this.

And then there is the Parque de Amor, which is not only easy to translate, but has a HUGE sculpture that makes the name of the park quite apparent without words at all (although not nearly as explicit as the museum of ceramics, which goes WAY beyond the kiss and embrace)

For more, scroll back to the last three days in Peru. Lotsa pictures.

Lo siento, mañana tenemos a regresar a Chicago, pero tengo tiempo por un otro viaje en la ciudad de los reyes, Lima de Peru.

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One Response to “Lima Day 4”

  1. trapson Says:

    I happened across the facade screen photo and allusion to Ralph Rapson. There is more than a hint and it was amusing to see that he came to mind.

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