The Conservation of Earthen Architecture
The tradition of building with earth is evidenced the world over. Earthen structures range from simple forms to vast, monumental sites of high complexity. Indeed, earthen sites make up 10 percent of the UNESCO World Heritage List. But many significant sites are threatened. While new earthen construction—abetted by the environmental movement—has seen increasing standardization and industrialization in recent decades, the conservation of earthen architecture is still coming into its own as a discipline.
Conservation and Continuity of Tradition: A Discussion about Earthen Architecture
Three international specialists in the conservation of earthen architecture discuss the historical significance, the preservation challenge, and the future of this substantial—but often overlooked—part of the world's cultural heritage.
Since the late 1980s, the International Centre for Earth Construction—School of Architecture of Grenoble, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, and the Getty Conservation Institute have collaborated on issues related to earthen architecture conservation. In 1997 they established Project Terra, with the mission of fostering the development of earthen architecture conservation as a science, a field of study, a professional practice, and a social endeavor.
Joya de Cerén: Conservation and Management Planning for an Earthen Archaeological Site
The World Heritage Site of Joya de Cerén in El Salvador is
an exceptional window into the past. Buried by a volcanic eruption
in the sixth century, the earthen architectural remains and the
artifacts of this Classic Period village have been remarkably preserved.
Nevertheless, the exposed excavated earthen structures present a
conservation challenge. In 1998, as part of its Maya Initiative,
the GCI, working with Salvadoran cultural authorities, began a collaborative
project at Joya de Cerén to develop a conservation and management
plan for the site.
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Updates on Getty Conservation Institute projects, events, publications, and staff.
The GCI Newsletter Staff Box