Day 17 :: Finding Corbusier in Lima

Back in Lima – Roberto Wakeham’s Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua.

I awoke early this morning to the flutter of helicopters crossing the skies of Cusco – the evacuation of stranded people has been going on for nearly a week now. You may have caught a glimpse  of the disaster in between a news spot on diapers and a local murder, but I assure you what I have seen the news coverage via the New York Times and it has been faulty at best. The reality is that the US Embassy in Lima prioritized its helicopters to rescue American citizens, leaving behind the sick, the old, and children of all other nationalities, including Peruvians. The airport was a bit hectic as well. An anchor woman from the London Times approached me with the hopes that I would let her interview me for a story back in the UK, for which I declined.

Some hours later I arrived back in Lima (a blip in my itinerary, but I will be back on track in a couple days). It was nice to return to a place where people recognized me – Alejandra and Alex (the young owners) greeted me warmly and inquisitively pressed me for information about Cusco.

Following the recommendation of an architect here I tracked down this architectural bookstore named Arcadia – the South American equivalent to NYC’s Urban Center Books (the best thing was they had almost every El Croquis, half still wrapped). I met the owner, Edgar, told him my business, and he sat down with me to tell me what I should see in Lima before I depart. Although I didn’t find all that much that interested me, I found this church (pictured above) and a social housing project from the late 60’s inspired by the Post-War ambitions in Italy of the same time, named PREVI. We exchanged contact information and I departed.

Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua was a rare find in Lima. Seemingly one of the architect’s only built works, it was well hidden in a sea of mediocre mid-rise housing projects. From what I quickly read in the books at Edgar’s store, Wakeham was one of the few South American architects to have left his home (along with Salmona, Villanueva, et. al.) to work directly under Le Corbusier. It showed – the church had that subtle formal aggressiveness and a careful attention to light.


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