Inside the Cathedral of Lima, rehearsals are underway for a baroque music concert. One of the organisers is architecture professor, Luis Villacorta. He is an expert in the acoustic properties of historic Peruvian churches, built using earthen construction methods to minimise the impact of earthquakes.
Luis Villacorta, professor of Architecture, Peru
We are finding that adobe material is very special for acoustic and also quincha, that is a kind of material made of cane and plaster. So we are now studying the possibilities of these churches to perform music baroque concerts.
Villacorta travelled to Italy and took a course in cultural projects for development. The course is run by the International Training Centre of the ILO.
Professor Walter Santagata, International training centre, ILO
We want to transmit to our students, tools, policies and instruments in general to make their culture sustainable, I mean to transform the culture in something that may be consumed, produced, sold in the international market.
Villacorta wanted to restore a colonial adobe-built church, in a poor part of Northern Lima. The idea was to strengthen the neighbourhood’s cultural identity as well as support the local economy. The problem was where to get the funding. Through his studies he developed a religious tourism business plan and with the plan he was able to obtain a grant from a major US-based Foundation.
We use cultural projects to combat poverty in two ways, first of all in order to provide a sense of identity to the people who live here and to be proud about the place they live. In the other way is to produce new jobs for people.
Villacorta has since been involved in five restoration projects. When he isn’t busy developing modern-day pilgrimages for American tourists, he uses his acoustics knowledge to promote baroque music. By investing in Lima’s cultural heritage, he is also investing in the city’s economic future.