Modern architecture in Peru [I] | Fernando Freire Forga

The Modern Architecture developed in Peru late, approximately 20 years after the first European precedents were constructed.

By the ends of the decade of 1920 Him Corbusier had defined his five points of the modern architecture formed later of the Villa Savoye, and Mies van der Rohe already had done the demonstrated own thing the qualities of a new architecture in the German Pavilion for the Universal Exhibition of Barcelona, in 1929. Nevertheless, in Peru, an architecture was developing with styles basically “neocoloniales” and “Californian” that remained unremovable until ends of the decade of 1940.

According to historians, during the decade of 1930, Peru achieves an approximation to this modernity – called by some ” international style ” – with some constructions in the city of Lima that they were corresponding to a trend to which called him “Buque Styl”, I am used that was practised in an eventual way, leaving at all time the supremacy of the existing neocolonialism.

By the middle of the decade of 1940 the Peruvian architects start linking with the modern architecture. The architects’ visits like Richard Neutra, Jose Luís Sert and Walter Gropius in these years served to lay the foundations of the modern movement in Peru.

Inside the first modern manifestations in projects of Peruvian architects it is called the attention, in the date of his projection, the modernity with which the Architect Santiago Agurto presents his thesis of degree published in 1945 by the magazine “El Arquitecto Peruano”.

Thesis of Degree. Santiago Agurto, 1945

El Arquitecto Peruano Magazine. Founded by the architect Fernando Belaunde Terry in 1937, it is the most important publication in architectural and urban topics in Peru in the 20th century. Under the direction of Fernando Belaúnde (1937-1963), the magazine published a total of 202 numbers. Until 1950, it was a monthly publication; then, it appeared every two months and, from 1958, every four.

The years that Belaúnde directed the publication coincide with the first phase of the big internal migrations, the most important demographic fact of the history of our country (and of Lima), that there modified the historical boss of occupation of the territory. Peru, basically rural and highland up to the census of 1940, happened to be an urban country and costeño.

The planning implies the notion of an authority that imposes priorities that are situated over the economic individual interests and above also of the rules of the free market.

El Arquitecto Peruano. August, 1937

The magazine pleaded for the modification of the liberal norm that he had guided to the Peruvian condition from the years of the ” Aristocratic Republic “. The magazine defended the thesis of promoting the development across a growth inward; it was partial, therefore, to the process of ” substitution of imports ” and it contradicts the exclusively exporting model. The magazine THE Peruvian Architect was calling the businessmen to stimulating the capital investment for the extension of the internal market. In this respect, for the architect Belaúnde it was necessary to produce in Peru iron, cement, glass and wood, since a country without basic industries could not aspire to the development.

In the choices of 1945, in which the option triumphed reformist of Bustamante and Rivero, Belaúnde Terry went out chosen deputy for Lima. In this first political responsibility, the young person architect stimulated, from the Congress, and inspired by the ideas of his magazine, four important laws:

1. The horizontal property of the land. – in agreement to the in force law, only there could be an owner for building, by what the departments only could be rented (for it, there were few ones in Lima). The new law was authorizing the owner of a department to inscribe his property in independent form and to share the soil with the owners of other departments of his building. This norm was an indispensable mechanism to stimulate the buildings for departments in our city.

2. The constitution of the National Office for the Town planning (ONPU). -Was the office of the condition taken charge of the formulation of the plans of urban development of all the cities of the country, beginning for Lima; this way, the condition was interfering directly in the national development. This institution was the precedent of the National Institute of Planning.

3. The creation of the National Corporation of Housing (CNV).– Took the construction of housings as an intention for the average and popular sectors. The principal work, in these years, of the CNV was the global project of the local units.

4. The climatic centers of invierno. – Under this law there was constructed Huampaní’s vacation colony.

The student reform of 1946. In 1946, both pupils and teachers of the Engineers’ School organized to carry out a student reform that levels the architectural education in relation to the new architecture developed in the international area. The change in the studies was complemented by the visits of different foreign architects between whom one counted Walter Gropius y Josep Lluís Sert in 1953. In 1955, with the transformation of the Engineers’ National School in National University of Engineering, the Department of Architecture remained turned into Faculty. The construction of the current Faculty of Architecture had beginning in 1951 thanks to the participation of the State, the private company, teachers and pupils. The building was one of the first ones in being constructed in the campus, his architectural design was realized by the Italian architect Mario Bianco and his execution thanks to a careful and prominent joint effort led by the architect Fernando Belaúnde,  in this chief at the time of the Department.

The Espacio GroupIn May, 1947, a group of young students of architecture of the Engineers’ National School, lead to a group of intellectual, architects and artists. They adopt the name I SPREAD and, like the European forefronts, they throw a Manifest that it will mark the beginning of his activities and of the changes that they support.

From middle of the forties, Lima was living through a maelstrom modernizante supported by the diffusion of the images of the modernity, the end of the second world war and by the optimistic existing environment after Jose Luis Bustamante y Rivero’s choice as expression of new winds in the country.

The radical transformation of the square of weapon of Lima and the widenings in the important streets of his historical center, were bearing witness to the spirit that it was encouraging to the promoted changes, emulating the happened in others metropolis. From this perspective, the paradigms of the change were kept marcadamente out of date.

The art and the architecture were travelling the ways sealed by the passive look to the past, isolated of the architectural prevailing events in the world. A world that was going out of the second great war and saw to consolidate to North America as principal power. A world that had lived – decades behind-, the enthusiasm for the total renovation of the art and the architecture, and that a few years later was raising already a question to the radical ultramodern formulations, was living through the unexpected turn of the big teachers of the architecture and the emergence of opened, fresh and enclosing offers.

In this one double and contradictory reality, that of two parallel worlds and diacrónicos, forms in Peru a group of intellectual: artists, students and professional, ready to face the defenders of the drowsiness of the cultural manifestations of our company. Assembled concerning Luis Miro Quesada’s stimulant figure, a group of young students of architecture of the Engineers’ National School – the current National University of Engineering-, arises does half a century, the Espacio Group, vehicle of the expectations of some circles of meeting and discussion as specific manifestation of a company worried by the present and the future.

ESPACIO, it proposes to mark distances, indicating a course; there appears the task of rethinking the art of Peru and faces the dilemma of attacking the origin of his own status, checking and questioning the development of our culture, understanding the same one of an integral way, as manifestation of a certain moment, and of a new man. It is constituted then in one of the most important movements of our modernity and no doubt, in most known and transcendental in the artistic world. The architecture, it would assume in the above mentioned process a determined leadership.

To fulfill his mission they organize conferences, exhibitions and publications. They edit the ESPACIO magazine and they publish a section in the EL COMERCIO diary. But especially they will produce, will do art. Rapidly, the acceptance of the modern art becomes clear in the decade of fifty, at the end of which, the most active members of the Group, have arrived at the political field, persuaded surely of the need to modernize also the country. Passed the time, Peru has changed glaringly. It smooths and the country they have grown and have transformed. The world in the post-modern age, far from being the same returns to look at his more nearby origins: those of the modernity. It does a high place and there is formulated a series of worrying questions: tradition, change, globalization, past, future, country, nation …….; trying to answer them in this opportunity across the manifestations of the art, stimulated and realized for Espacio Group.

The first works and projects of modern architecture in Peru

Fernando Freire Forga · Doctor Architect
Lima · april 2013 · Author of the Blog La Forma Moderna en Latinoamérica


Personal tests, 2012. This first part forms a part of a text that exposes the result of almost 10 years of studies related to the development of the modern architecture in Peru. It is important to mention that to manage to complete this test related to the modern architecture in Peru there have been in use studies and opinions of out-standing professionals. Ultimately a brief bibliographical review is done.

Bibliographical sources
1. Córdova, Adolfo “La Agrupación Espacio y la Arquitectura Peruana” – 2005.
2. Ludeña, Wiley “Piqueras – Belaunde – La Agrupación Espacio: TRES BUENOS TIGRES. Vanguardia y Urbanismo en el Perú del Siglo XX”. Editado por el CAP Regional Junín y Urbe ediciones – Huancayo 2004. Pag. 186.
4. José Bentín Diez Canseco Extracto de Libro: Enrique Seoane Ros, Una Búsqueda de raíces peruanas. Lima, 1989.5.

Fernando Freire Forga

Fernando Freire Forga nace en Lima el 21 de marzo de 1977. Entre los años 1994 y 2000 realiza estudios de arquitectura en la Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas en la misma ciudad. En 1999 obtiene el primer premio en el Concurso a nivel nacional organizado por PROCOBRE-PERÚ con la tesis: Edificio Automatizado de Oficinas: “Usos del Cobre en la Arquitectura”.

Ha realizado estudios de Doctorado sobre Arquitectura Moderna en la ETSAB, Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona en la Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, España. Actualmente , se encuentra inmerso en el desarrollo de trabajos de recopilación e investigación de Arquitectura Moderna en el Perú. Es docente de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú y se desenvuelve como proyectista de manera independiente.

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