ADOBE CONTRUCTION IN COBQUECURA

RECOVERING THE SENSE OF BELONGING

A Harvard DRCLAS Grant enabled Ivan Cartes to work with the support of the Regional Office and Recupera Chile on an innovative project on adobe construction with anti seismic techniques to maintain cultural heritage in Cobquecura, Chile.Through this same project and with the support of the Cobquecura Municipality and the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, a new market was built and inaugurated on Thursday, March 9, 2018. In it 25 farmers, all women who had been installed for the past 20 years in the main plaza without proper infrastructure, will have now a new place to work and sell their products. 

This project contributes to:

  • adobe construction innovation

  • promotion of local entrepreneurs

  • use of a public place for cultural center purposes

  • farmers market on Wednesdays and Sundays 

  • future goal: to create a small company of adobe construction with 5 Cobquecuranos already trained in new construction techniques

History of the project

In December 2016, the elected mayor of Cobquecura Mr. Julio Alarcon, the Director of Constructions of Cobquecura’s Municipality Ms. Lorena Gutierrez,  and the representative of “Recupera Chile” Dr. Iván Cartes, had a meeting and agreed to go ahead with the construction of the main façade of the church and the public toilets for the cemetery. 

The façade was intended to be built aside the “Handcrafts center” financed by “Recupera Chile” in 2012 and behind will allocate the kiosks that are in the main plaza leaving more public space for Cobquecura’s residents

Both schemes would be built with reinforced adobe probed to be structurally sound. The walls and adobe improvements have been tested in the construction labs of Universidad del Bio-Bio by professionals and academics who worked in a research scheme during 2015-2016.

The mayor was re-elected after 4 years off and “Recupera Chile Team” worked with him since 2011. He was very enthusiastic to demonstrate that the adobe construction is still useful to recover the sense of belonging and pride of place in his heritage village. This was aimed at inhabitants to recover trust in this material again. He also planned to support the construction of the kitchens of the new provided low cost houses after the earthquake. The kitchens were located normally outside the house and are the social space of every house and the residents are not yet used to the small kitchens provided.

The construction was intended to start by mid-March of 2017. As of now, only the Mercadito structure has moved forward. It is nonetheless and emblematic building, because the 80% of the total adobe construction was either demolished or destroyed by the earthquake in February 27th 2010. Therefore, this initiative attempts to recover a local tradition of construction, use local labor and transfer innovation and technology to local people, activating the local economy and making people aware of the many ecological implications of the adobe construction, as well as to recover their local identity.