Building Capacities for Preserving the Arica Parinacota Churches

As an intern with WMF and the Fundación Altiplano, I was working under the supervision of Cristian Heinsen and Magdalena Pereira, who are the Executive Director and the Vice Director of the Fundación Altiplano, respectively. The Fundación Altiplano’s mission is to promote a model of sustainable development that strengthens the rich traditions of Andean communities in the modern world. Furthermore to generate alternative methods of sustainable development inspired by a regional approach to traditional construction and design, this goal is carried out by the preservation of cultural heritage.

The main objective of my staying at the Fundación Altiplano was to produce a user-friendly database that could incorporate plan, photos, audio-video files, tables, and documents. As the foundation has four main departments, the database needed to address the complexity of different projects: architectural, book creation/publishing, fine arts restoration, administrative, and communication projects, among others.

After ten days of researching and studying the foundation’s activities, I created a database that presents three projection levels, one inside the other:

  1. Project Description Table
  2. Task Description Table
  3. Personnel Table

The final product is a database that is a collection of interconnected tables permitting multiple relations and multiples queries. Each table is correlated to the other through the Project ID match field and the Task ID match field.

Long-term data preservation has always been essential for the heritage preservation field where the amount of data per single project can be incredibly high and as diverse as a chemical analysis to an architectural plan. Databases can ensure planning and stability: archiving provides a good answer to conservation needs, fulfilling legal requirements, facilitating data management, and lowering operational costs.

After projects have been loaded into the database, project officials can run standard analyses such as queries and charts.

In my final recommendations for the database, I will add that it would be important to integrate GIS mapping as soon as possible, as the resulting cartographical information could be used by the foundation to promote their work in helping to redevelop Andean rural communities by creating maps of population distribution and density, culturally important locations, and land-use/cover changes.

To conclude, I can state that my internship at the WMF and Fundación Altiplano was a rewarding experience and provided me with some new perspectives. Particularly, working together with Cristian Heinsen and Magdalena Pereira was a true pleasure and their faith in my abilities was a real source of motivation.