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Double Quincha in Lima, Peru: Innovation, Adaptation and Comfort in the XVII–XIX Centuries

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Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions (SAHC 2023)

Part of the book series: RILEM Bookseries ((RILEM,volume 46))

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Peruvian construction technology has an original tradition of thousands of years, from a completely indigenous remote past to the cultural mixture of the viceroyalty centuries and the encounter with the rest of the world. This tradition has been, as is to be expected, strongly conditioned by the material characteristics of the geographical, climatic and territorial environment, with multiple adaptations and innovations. One of these innovations is the quincha, used throughout the coast of the Peruvian viceroyalty for the second and third levels of all structures. But the documentation indicates the use of a variant, the “double quincha” as an element that, using the width of more rigid supports, created an internal air chamber. This work references colonial and contemporary documentation and case studies in Lima, to verify the properties for thermal comfort of the double quincha, in one of the first studies of its kind for this material. Architectural surveys and systematic temperature measurements were carried out at multiple buildings in the center of the historic city- as well as the use of models in an energy simulator program. The results allow us to understand a little more both the constructive reasoning of quincha and the possibilities of this traditional method.

Double Quincha-The word, of indigenous origin, was already found in chronicles such as those of the priest Bernabé Cobo (History of the New World... p. 210–211). In Spain, similar elements were called “looms”.

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  1. 1.

    Commonly named in Peru “caña brava”, its scientific name is “Gynerium sagittatum”.

  2. 2.

    About 0.83 m.

  3. 3.

    Crespo cites the San Cristóbal Archives, at the General Archive of the Nation (AGN), Notarial Protocols, Antonio de Figueroa (1662), n. 640 fol. 1079 et seq. See CRESPO RODRÍGUEZ, María Dolores (2006). Domestic architecture of the City of Kings (1535–1750). Seville: EEHA, CSIC, University of Seville, Diputación de Sevilla, p. 91–93.

  4. 4.

    Crespo Rodríguez, Op. Cit., p. 91.

  5. 5.

    SUITO, Giovanni. The Lima house and characteristic elements during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Federico Villareal National University, Architecture and Urbanism Program, Bachelor Thesis directed by the architect A. Linder, Lima: 1971 (unpublished).

  6. 6.

    The original document, cited by both Suito and Crespo, is from the San Cristóbal file in the AGN, Notarial Protocols, Pedro Pérez Landero (1669), n. 1470, fol. 620 et seq.

  7. 7.

    The author mentions “…double looms, a cane framework superimposed on a brick or mud structure, which left a gap between the two panels, preferably used on the facades”. See Domestic Architecture in the City of Kings…, p. 92.

  8. 8.

    General Archive of the Indies (AGI), Lima 983, On the reductions to the censuses… December 1748. The quote is also found in PÉREZ-MALLAÍNA BUENO, Pablo Emilio (2001). Portrait of a city in crisis. Lima society before the seismic movement of 1746. Seville: CSIC-EEHA-Riva-Agüero Institute. The viceroy insists saying that “experience has taught that only the buildings of this material do not fall apart with tremors easily.”.

  9. 9.

    PACÓN LUNG, María Cristina y Cecilia VELARDE LÓPEZ (1989). La profesionalización de la mano de obra como principio de una adecuada praxis en conservación - Lima. Universidad Ricardo Palma, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo. Tesis de Bachiller dirigida por el arquitecto E. Gastelumendi, Lima: (inédita), lámina 22.

  10. 10.

    In Marussi, Ferruccio. Historical Background of the Quincha…, p. 26. The same author had already developed the subject in his doctoral thesis of 1981 (“The quincha in the monumental buildings of the Viceroyalty of Peru”), presented at the Higher Technical School of Architecture of the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

  11. 11.

    SUITO, Marco, Op. Cit.

  12. 12.

    Extracted from Gunther Doering, Juan (1983) Plans of Lima, 1613–1983. Municipality of Metropolitan Lima: Petróleos del Perú.

  13. 13.

    From the Riva-Agüero Historical Archive, AHRA C-23, 69r. The citation is found in SCALETTI, A. N. (2015). «…having recognized its stonework factory and looms…»: the Riva-Agüero house (Lima, Peru - 18th century). In the First Hispano-American International Congress on the History of Construction. (pp. 1591–1602) MADRID: Juan de Herrera Institute.

  14. 14.

    From Protocol No.: 567. Folio: 671r–672r (32 pages-Inserts), 21vF. Terán Collection, General Archive of the Nation.

  15. 15.

    Access to the properties was possible thanks to the support of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP), owner of the majority of the block, through its Office of the Administrative Vice President and its Infrastructure Department. Specifically, the Riva-Agüero and O'Higgins houses operate under the administration of the IRA-PUCP.

  16. 16.

    Software calculated OPAQUE 3.0. A U-value, Time Lag, and Decrement Factor calculator opaque wall or roof surfaces.

  17. 17.

    Tartarini, F., Schiavon, S., Cheung, T., & Hoyt, T. (2020). CBE Thermal Comfort Tool: Online tool for thermal comfort calculations and visualizations. SoftwareX, 12, 100563.


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Correspondence to M. Wieser .

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Scaletti, A., Montoya, T., Wieser, M. (2024). Double Quincha in Lima, Peru: Innovation, Adaptation and Comfort in the XVII–XIX Centuries. In: Endo, Y., Hanazato, T. (eds) Structural Analysis of Historical Constructions. SAHC 2023. RILEM Bookseries, vol 46. Springer, Cham.

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