November 2010

Cochabamba: History Heritage Through Architecture

Cochabamba is in big trouble facing the conservation of its Cultural Heritage, which is about to disappear.

Virginie Dichtel
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Paris - France

Research : Cécilia Di Quinzio
Projects Abroad Volunteer
lyon -France

Cochabamba has two foundations. The first one was on August 15th, 1571 by the Captain Geronimo de Osorio in lands of Orellana’s García Ruiz; the second was on January 1st, 1574 by Don Sebastian Barba de Padilla in the Kanata’s valley, named Villa de Oropeza. Some buildings from that period are still preserved. Among them, there are lots of churches, the town council, Santivañez Street, the Mayorazgo house and the Chimba-chica house.

Since colonial times, Cochabamba has been the most important socio-economic and political centre of the country and it was considered as the barn city of Bolivia. The department of Cochabamba has 19 buildings that are declared National Monuments, 8 of these are located in the city of Cochabamba: Heroínas de San Sebastián y la cautiva Cobija, Templo de San Francisco, Templo de La Merced, Templo de Santa Teresa, Templo de Santo Domingo, Templo de San Agustín, Catedral, Plaza 14 de Septiembre. Downtown Cochabamba still preserves its initial design: straight square blocks around the Main Square, which are typically colonial.

There are many buildings that can be considered as Heritage and depending on their values, they can become monuments; not to mention the previous religious buildings we already talked about.

We can mention the following buildings due to their architectural functional genre among others.The architecture of Cochabamba is the result of numerous international influences, which linked to local creativity, have given birth to a wide variety of trends and styles.

A great deal of representative architecture from different ages and even the ones that own the Heritage Declaration are vulnerable of alterations and even demolitions, situation that is due to the lack of knowledge of Heritage Values they have and its consecutive spreading.

However, thanks to the effort and dedication of many leading and visionary architects, the foundation of Colegio de Arquitectos de Cochabamba has been created on March 2nd, 1945. It is formed by architects that reside and/or practice the profession in the department of Cochabamba.

The most important objective of this institution is to obey the regulations of law 1373, statutes, regulations, code of ethics and determinations of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Bolivia in all its fields. It has some influence on the preservation of ancient monuments.

Within the Colegio de Arquitectos de Cochabamba, there is the SOCIEDAD DE ESTUDIOS HISTORICOS, PATRIMONIO Y RESTAURACIÓN – SEHIPRE.

The SEHIPRE of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Cochabamba is an organization that does not pursue profit, where people work on management, valuation and defense of the Historic Urban Cultural, Architectural and Artistic Heritage of the Department of Cochabamba. Its main objective is to guide the population appropriately on the preservation, conservation and restoration of the heritage.

The architecture of Cochabamba is the result of numerous international influences, which linked to local creativity.

SEHIPRE has carried out permanent defense of the Urban, Architectural and Artistic Heritage in the region, public accusation in case of attacks to the Historical Heritage in the region, continuous training on management, valuation and intervention of the Cultural Historical Heritage, through courses, seminars, conferences and some others of public interest, adequate Technical Professional Counsel in cases of intervention to heritage buildings, active participation on decisions related to interventions on the department heritage.

During the last years, SEHIPRE has supervised restoration projects and the rehabilitation of the Santa Catalina convent in Collpa Ciaco, the government of Cochabamba and the cathedral covers; to prevent the demolitions of La Iglesia San Isidro de Colomi, the only one heritage in that municipality; to work on various institutions to pass a byelaw in order to create “Heritage Day”, which is intended to be celebrated the last Sunday of September - the purpose of that day is to work on the spreading and awareness of the Urban Historical Architectural Heritage; to guide the municipality towards the defense and conservation of the heritage.

Unfortunately, they do not always achieve positive results. Cochabamba is in big trouble facing the conservation of its Cultural Heritage, which is about to disappear due to many reasons :

  • The lack of knowledge by the population on Cultural Heritage.
  • An incorrect intervention on Urban Architectural Heritage.
  • The lack of law application that protects National Monuments and the National Architectural-Historical Heritage
  • The lack of a catalogue and inventory of the Heritage works.
  • The lack of an adequate education in new generations related to the Urban Architectural Heritage Value.
  • The lack of spreading on the Regional Cultural Heritage Value and its respective conservation.

The Colegio de Arquitectos de Cochabamba has been promoting the drawing up of a catalogue on Heritage Architecture, a document intended to cooperate the conservation of the Heritage Architecture and its adequate intervention

Cochabamba is in big trouble facing the conservation of its Cultural Heritage

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