Karencita de Perú

Posts Tagged ‘construction

As I walk around the streets of Lima one of the most obvious differences from what I had grown accustomed to in Vancouver is the architecture and the way buildings are constructed.  Apart from the fact that Lima is a much more historic city than Vancouver and many of the buildings are hundreds of years older, there are two principal differences that stand out to me.  As well, there are a few other interesting things that aren’t commonly seen in Canada.

First, the majority of the buildings in Lima have flat roofs as opposed to peaked roofs, as is common in Vancouver and most other parts of Canada.  This is because having a sloped roof to ensure that the snow and rain-water run off  isn’t a concern in Lima.  Lima is in the midst of a coastal desert and gets an average of 13mm of rain per year.  Vancouver has an average annual rainfall of 1117 mm!!

Another reason that homes in Lima are built with flat roofs is that they are often added on to after the original construction.  As children grow up and start to have families of their own, it is common to expand the family home so that the new couple can live with the parents, but have their own space in the house.   Lima is densely populated and there is no room to build to the side, front or back of the house, so they build up, adding subsequent floors as more space is needed.  This practice of adding additional floors to a house leads to one of the things that isn’t often seen in Canada which is that a lot of houses appear unfinished.  They commonly have pieces of re-bar sticking out of the roof  in preparation for the future construction.

The other major difference is in the construction materials used.  In Lima buildings are constructed with concrete, cinder block, brick and re-bar.  In Western Canada the most common building material for individual homes is wood.  Again, this is due to geographic location.  In Western Canada there is an abundance of wood so lumber construction makes sense.  Conversely, there are no forests immediately surrounding Lima and no lumber industry to speak of in Peru.

In a country where central heating and air conditioning are very rare, concrete construction has the benefit of good insulation.  In Canada apartment building are often constructed on the outside with concrete but the inner walls are still made of lumber and dry wall.  In Peru, even the inner walls are concrete.  This is good for sound proofing, but it does make hanging pictures a bit of a challenge.

Apart from the differences in architecture and building materials, I have seen some other things that have caught my attention.   One of those is the electrical wires in the street.  Lima has very few underground cables.  The majority are  above ground, attached to poles, as is common in the older neighborhoods of Vancouver.   However, what you won’t often see in Vancouver is the tangles mess or archaic cables that you will find here.  It is really quite a frightening sight.

Another thing that is more commonly seen here than in Vancouver is abandoned buildings or buildings where the construction has never been completed.  In some cases these partially constructed buildings sit empty, deteriorating from disuse.  But there is one building which always makes me wonder how it is possible that people can be living there.  It is in the heart of Miraflores, one of the nicest districts in Lima, on Avenida Benavides, a main street.  The building is obviously unfinished yet it is inhabited by many people.  Imagine trying to get an occupancy permit in a building like this in Canada!

The final thing that I have seen numerous times that always grabs my attention is a difference in construction techniques.  It is common to see wooden poles used as supports during the construction process.  In Canada supports are generally made of metal so the image of what looks like a bunch of sticks holding up pounds of heavy concrete somehow doesn’t seem very safe to me, although I’m sure they know what they are doing!

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Miraflores in Lima Perú