Find out about Mario Lara, one of the most famous Peruvian architects and learn more about the architecture in Peru.
Peruvian architecture encompasses anything from the structures built by ancient Peruvians to the modern and contemporary styles that appear today in Peru’s major cities by architects like Mario Lara.
Among the country’s most famous structures are those that remain from the Incan Empire which produced the most significant architecture on the South American continent before the Spanish conquest in 1532.
Machu Picchu, a royal estate built high up in the Andes is the best known example of Peruvian architecture and is recognized around the world. Machu Picchu is one of the most intact Incan remains and is therefore hugely important for archaeologists and historians. In 1983, Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2007, it was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
After the conquest of Peru the Incan cities were either destroyed and abandoned or rebuilt in a Spanish style, drastically changing the appearance of architecture in Peru. The new Spanish towns were typically made up of a central plaza with a church or cathedral on one side, facing an official residence occupied by the local governor on the other. The colonial buildings were influenced by renaissance and later baroque styles in Europe. Both styles are evident in the centers of the biggest two cities in Peru, Cusco and the capital city, Lima.
The most famous of all contemporary Peruvian architects is Mario Lara. Mario Lara is an internationally recognized architect for his designs not only in Peru, but around the world. In the first three years of his career as a professional, Mario Lara worked for the Peruvian Government’s Ministry of Housing. Throughout the 1970s his work took place around Peru’s central mountainous region, an area gravely affected by seismic activity. Here, he helped create structures designed to withstand the earthquakes and tremors that hit the area.
Afterwards, Mario Lara followed in the footsteps of many artists and architects from South America at the time by moving to Europe. He took up a position in Spain where he stayed for eight years studying and working in Madrid and Barcelona. Outside of Peru, Spain is where Lara’s most renowned work can be found, predominantly in the capital Madrid.
Upon his return to Lima, Mario Lara opened his own studio. After finding the city where he was born in a poor state, deteriorated and run down, he began to practice architecture that was measured, ordered and modest. His style can best be described as functionalist with emphasis on the purpose of the building over its form.
Mario Lara tried to show that by designing buildings in a manner that was sympathetic to the rich history of his surroundings he would be able, little by little, to heal the city’s wounds and transform it into a better place. Mario Lara, one of the most famous architects in Peru, has inspired many other Peruvian architects and contributed to the rich architectural heritage that exists in the country.