Modern architecture in Peru [II] | Fernando Freire Forga

The local units. The National Corporation of Housing was the one that stimulated the creation of local units to solve the problem of the housing in our city. One reminded the construction of 7 local units, four in Lima and three in the Callao. It was a question of complexes habitacionales autonomous; for it, they were possessing market, medical relay, police station, civic center or communal place, post office, primary schools for children and girls, cinema – theatre, field of football, swimming pool and, logically, a church; in addition, they had an own system of traffic pedestrian and traffic. Newly, in 1955, there was constructed the local unit of Lookers-on, designed by the architect Santiago Agurto Calvo, on the Colonial avenue, ex-road of the Callao.

Matute Local unit, Lima. Arq. Santiago Agurto, 1952 – 1953 |

The adoption of the Local Unit, as urban autonomous model, had been recommended by the International Congresses of Modern Architecture, and in Latin America, the labor of diffusion her would fulfill the Pan-American Congresses, influential in the Peruvian case, the realized one in his headquarters in 1947. Thanks to the National Corporation of the Housing, and the economic corresponding funds, it was given beginning to the first local Unit: the UV 3 (1950), in the Av. Colonial, that would make way to an important group of local sets that they include until 1985.

The regulatory plan of Chimbote. The development of the mining resources of the north of Peru was needing the creation of an appropriate port. Chimbote in these moments was a fishermen’s village that was having a good natural port in his bay. For this Chimbote at the time it had 4000 inhabitants and these settlers were living under a tracing developed by Henry Meiggs, North American engineer, in the year 1860, where they were finding so called ” huts of mud ” that were the precarious housings of the settlers.

Perspective of Chimbote’s regulatory plan

There appeared a type of new habitat based on the “urban tapestry”, this is, a compact fabric of houses of one, two and three plants with courts closed by walls. These courts are in the habit of being major that the own housings, adapted in order that the inhabitants preserve his habits of life on the outside. The road ones of service and pedestrians’ streets are defined by the walls of scanty height and practically without openings.

There interfered a new type of urban housing, these houses based on the houses with court of the local architecture were new versions of the Mediterranean architecture, which origin goes back to the antiquity. These simple structures of brick were needing less technological sophistication and were causing less social alteration than the arrangement in blocks, and were much more feasible economically for housings of low cost. Since it was foreseen that the residents of Chimbote were coming from rural mountainous regions, I include a space in the houses to guard animals. Giedion alluded later to these houses as ” transitory forms between the past and the future “, but in his own presentation of the project, Wiener and Sert, they underline the narrow relation with the local customs.

The ” urban tapestry ” shaped by these housings court I constitute the first example of a modality of habitat of high density and low height that turns out to be ideal for situations where the soil has a low price and the climate is arid, that is to say, where the possible spaces left between the buildings would not be covered by a vegetable mantle, but by powder and bushes. This Chimbote’s plan appeared to the VIIth CIAM of 1949 celebrated in Bergamo, at which young architects were present, of the third generation of the modern movement.

Jose Luis Sert’s visits to Peru for the development of Chimbote’s Regulatory Plan it served also to relate to the designers of the ” Regulatory Plan of Lima “, who only was constructed in what is today is the Civic Center, several years later.

From 1950, in Peru, the modern architecture was accepted and entered to his period of consolidation. With the development of the mass media the distances were slow rapidly, with regard to what it was done in architecture worldwide, coming his summit about decade of 1960.

Fernando Freire Forga · Doctor Architect

Lima · april 2013 · Author of the Blog La Forma Moderna en Latinoamérica


Personal tests, 2012. This second 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.


3. 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.


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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