Terra 2012 – earth buildings and conservation in Peru

The 11th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage – Terra 2012 was held in Lima, Peru. 22nd-26th April at the  Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP).

This is the 11th in the series of conferences that have created and defined the study of earth structures. These conference have been held in Iran, Peru, Turkey, USA, UK and Mali. The Terra Conference series shares the same vintage as the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, as both were initiated in 1972, which makes 2012 a very significant birthday year for heritage, conservation and earth structures.

The themes for this years conference were natural disasters and climate change with researchers and practitioners presenting on wide ranging issues from archaeological sites, living communities, cultural landscapes and material and structural analysis of earth buildings.

Mudbricks laid out ready for testing in the Engineering workshop at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP)

The analysis of the conference series from 1972 through to 2003 made up a significant component of my PhD research now almost a decade ago. The 2008 conference (in Mali) and most recent conference in Peru were both significantly larger conferences than those held in the past and represent earth structures as a separate and very significant discipline in its own right.

Students experimenting with seismic-resistance in the engineering workshop at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP)

As an archaeologist who has excavated callopsed mudbrick walls in seismic areas, and one of the those lucky few who after the Terra 2003 conference in Iran visited Bam (just weeks before its devastating earthquake in December 2003) –  I watched with interest the test adobe structure, which was put on the shake table in the engineering workshop. This demonstrated the type of failures these types of structures can suffer as a result of earthquakes. – the collapsed walls released the familiar and very distinctive, earthy smell from the still-wet mortar and broken mudbricks.

I presented a number of joint papers for work within:

ISCEAH – (With Enrico Fodde,  Sandeep Sikka & Julio Vargas-Neumann) – Documenting earthen archaeological sites – the ISCEAH glossary of deterioration patterns

EBUK  –  (With Rowland Keable & Tom Morton) – Earth Building UK – National Networks for Earth Building and why does it matter.

and other research projects.

(With Prof. Peter Brimblecombe) – A Research Agenda for Climate and Climate Change impacts on Earth Structures.

What are we doing? Can we learn lessons from heritage discourses?

More to follow in the next few days…

About Louise Cooke

Louise Cooke - landscapes, archaeology, earth buildings and other interesting things
This entry was posted in archaeology, conservation, Earth Building, earth building UK, Heritage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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