A friend returning home after living in Scotland for several years recently told me how she watched the Peruvian coast from the descending plane: The clutter of the fields, the houses, and even the distribution of the ships at sea, she said, showed the lack of control and authority in Peru.
People from the Peruvian capital Lima experience this clutter every day. “Lima la horrible” (Lima the horrible) is a common saying, a phrase taken from an essay by Sebastian Salazar Bondy published in Mexico in 1964. Lima is chaotic, marked by an unplanned construction boom and informal settlements. Living in this city can be a nightmare, especially for poor people.
Raul Silva is a landscape architect who runs a nursery – a refuge for children right in the middle of the bustle of the city. While his garden used to look out on the “Moche” archaeological site, now he only sees a concrete wall. “We don’t know why the Peruvians build cities as ugly as this,” he reflects. “We have a history of such beauty and do nothing to improve our cities.”
Neither the authorities nor the architecture schools really seem to care. Is it even possible to make Lima a better place? Well, we might try…
But first let’s explore why Lima is so “horrible”.