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introduction Edit

ATePE Italia designed a school for about 90 children in a rural community called Villacurì (Ica, Peru) with one major goal in mind: adopt a simple construction system, safe, seismic-resistant, durable and suitable for unskilled laborers.

The school TuCuna is made of timber and bamboo. It is based on a modular and partecipative construction process. It can be easily adapted to different places and weather climates thanks to a thermal insulation made of straw and mud that can be replaced with other materials, in order to ensure different thermal performances.

TuCuna aims to show the community how traditional building techniques, if properly designed and constructed, can provide real development possibilities: low-cost and low-tech buildings that can be easily implemented and maintained.

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image gallery Edit

the core team Edit

The main team consists of a project coordinator, two structural engineers and four architects.

The project coordinator spent some considerable time on the field, speaking with local authorities, meeting the teachers of the village, trying to understand what was the local way of building houses and what kind of materials were locally available. The only primary school in Villacurì has been visited in order to develop an effective layout, able to respond to needs of the children and the families.

The team worked side by side with the directors of two local NGOs (Casas de la Salud de Ica and CODEHICA), already involved in the construction of two similar buildings in the surrounding areas. Our presence in the community was ensured by frequent visits to the Villacurì village, always accompanied by the mentioned local NGOs.

Life in Villacurì flows slowly, the desert, the hot weather in the summer, the biting cold during the winter nights and the extreme poverty that characterizes this area, make the 20 kilometers route, to get the chaotic Ica, not an easy option for the people who live there. Most of the families in the community live in houses made of wood, straw, bamboo and mud, the electricity doesn’t reach all the living units and the water, when available, is collected from the few wells in the village.

The only school in Villacurì welcomes about 300 children from the age of 5, the little ones are instead at home while their parents work in the fields. TuCuna will help them to have a place where they can receive care and education, avoiding they spend the day alone in their houses exposed to risks of the environment around them.

Before the beginning of the construction, the Villacurì inhabitants will be involved in seminars in order to make them aware of the importance of building a seismic-resistant structure in a very seismic prone area. The team will hire skilled and unskilled workers, equally distributed between men and women, in the village so as to contribute in the construction process and, as side effect, to develop and improve the local economy.

what is still needed and why Edit
Funding support:

TuCuna responds, in all its aspects, to the construction criteria specified in the Peruvian government social program called CUNA MÁS, sponsored by the MIDIS (Ministerio de Desarrollo e Inclusión Social), which undertakes to cover all the management costs of the structure.

The total cost of the materials needed for construction is approximately 80,000 US$. A more detailed cost estimation can be found in the "External link" section, clicking on the "TuCuna presentation (Spanish)" link and, upon request, in our detailed report. The amount is subject to change and a final revision is need. 

ATePE Italia is looking for a partial or total contribution to this amount.

In order to cover the remaining cost and the manpower cost, we are going to consider the possibility of a partnership with the Japan Embassy in Lima, that every year support this kind of projects, and we are also evaluating the chance to start a crowdfunding campaign.

Any potential partner will have visibility during the meetings with authorities, the seminars with the population, in the technical and non-technical paperwork and in the different ATePE Italia social media (Facebook, Twitter, emails, etc.). ATePE Italia is also willing to consider other requests.


ATePE Italia will be also pleased if some partners wanted to support our project, sharing our idea and our vision in their social media.

Any potential partner will have visibility in the technical and non-technical paperwork and in the different ATePE Italia social media (Facebook, Twitter, emails, etc.).

impact Edit

The TuCuna project was born from the desire to offer the people a building that was not just a teaching place, but also a way to increase the sense of belonging in the community, involving the community itself in the creation of new spaces for everyday life.

The intention was to adopt a simple constructive system, suitable for unspecialized workers.

The participative process, and the direct involvement of the community in the implementation and management phases, allow the community to identify itself more closely with the architecture they are contributing to build. The structure becomes a piece of the village, a place of reference and an engine for a greater social cohesion and inclusion.

In conclusion we hope that TuCuna will:

  • create skilled manpower able to replicate the learnt construction techniques in other contexts;
  • facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technical skills;
  • make the population aware of the need of building earthquake-proof structures;
  • involve the population in the construction process, increasing their sense of belonging to the community in which they are living.


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Project details
Project name: TuCuna: Creative and Sustainable School
Description: Timber and bamboo seismic-resistant school for 90 children
Category: education
Design: ATePE Italia: Lionella Biancon, Stefano Pompei, Carlotta Fabbri, Marco Cardoni, Costanza Tani, Cecilia Sommariva
Consultants: Gruppo MOCA, Valentina Limonta
Building status: proposal (Buildify submission)
Construction period: N/A
Demolished: N/A
Needs: funding support, promotion
Location: Ica, Peru
Coordinates: 13°55'37.5'' S, 75°55'14.4'' W
Tags: development cooperation, earthquake, education, local resources, low tech
Project ID: 616
Published: 17 September 2016
Last updated: 12 October 2016
(images have individual licenses)
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CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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