2014 World Monuments Watch
Located in the rural community of Kuchuhuasi, in Cusco, Peru, the Chapel of Kuchuhuasi was built during the second half of the seventeenth century. The picturesque chapel is a unique expression of vernacular architecture in the Andes of southern Peru. The adobe structure is graced by eighteenth-century wall painting on the interior, and covered with a thatched roof. The residents of the neighboring villages have a deep respect for religious and cultural traditions, and the chapel plays an active role in their lives. They use their limited resources to maintain the building, and every five years they replace the thatched roof as part of the traditional repaje ceremony.
The structure’s façade was originally decorated with mural paintings, but when the community became unable to maintain them they were covered with earthen render to avoid further exposure to the elements. By the time the chapel was included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch, a high level of internal humidity had caused deterioration of its interior surfaces. Water infiltration during heavy storms and run-off from the irrigation of nearby fields had exacerbated these conditions. In response to cracks on the walls showing evidence of structural damage, the community erected a brace to shore up the wall section.
Despite the hard work of the community, a comprehensive conservation plan is needed for the building. With the trans-Amazon highway now linking the city of Cusco to Kuchuhuasi, there are potential opportunities for tourism initiatives at the site. The chapel was included on the Watch in order to increase participation in the traditional ceremonies carried out there, and to build capacity within the community for long-term stewardship of this historic resource.
Watch Day at the Chapel of Kuchuhuasi was celebrated in May 2014 with a guided tour of the chapel. Twenty-five participants, including residents, local authorities, the restoration team from Andahuaylillas, and priests from Kuchuhuasi and other neighboring towns had the opportunity to visit the rural building. The group observed the structure’s state of deterioration and discussed the necessary conservation measures.
Since the Watch
In February 2015, a team of conservators carried out emergency repairs at the site. Work included pouring lime on the floor for water absorption, covering the holes in the façade with metallic mesh and mud, creating trenches to direct rainwater away from the building, and applying tarps and thatch to the roof for waterproofing.