The course was held in Trujillo, Peru, from November 10 to December 13, 1996, in collaboration with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property, the International Centre for Earth Construction, and the Instituto Nacional de Cultura del Perú.
Twenty-four architects, archaeologists, and conservators—representing 13 countries—participated in the course, which was designed to promote: (1) a methodological, scientific, and interdisciplinary approach to the investigation, conservation, and management of earthen architectural heritage; (2) the development and execution of management plans befitting the specific characteristics of such heritage; (3) communication among the disciplines responsible for the investigation, conservation, and management of such sites; and (4) professional and institutional awareness regarding the study, conservation, and management of earthen architectural patrimony.
Twenty instructors from the Americas and Europe combined lectures, demonstrations, and exercises to communicate theoretical and practical issues. Due to the high seismic risk in many areas of Latin America, seismic mitigation was emphasized throughout the course. Also, because of the wealth of polychrome murals and reliefs in the region, much of the curriculum focused on decorated surfaces on earthen supports.
The course venue was the museum of the archaeological site of Chan Chan, an earthen city constructed and occupied by the Chimu people between the 10th and 15th centuries. Chan Chan served as a field laboratory for the course, as did several nearby sites in the Moche Valley, including Huaca de la Luna, El Brujo, Huaca del Dragón, and a number of colonial earthen houses and churches in the city of Trujillo. Scheduled to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the inscription of Chan Chan on UNESCO's World Heritage Site list, the course received a great deal of media coverage, and a number of ancillary activities promoting the conservation of the site took place, including an "Abrazo de Chan Chan," during which 17,000 schoolchildren from Trujillo encircled the site hand in hand, drawing national attention to the need to care for this important treasure.