1) Architect, Associate Professor, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María, Department of Architecture,

2 ) PhD student Université Paris Diderot – Paris VII, Laboratoire ICT Identités-Cultures-Territoires,


Masonry is one of the most common traditional building typologies in the port of Valparaiso. Structures of this type were built between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the ‘golden age’ of the city. These buildings have withstood major earthquakes (1906, 1985, 2010) that have affected the central region of Chile. These earthquakes destroyed many historic buildings, as many of them were not built with reinforcements or designed according contemporary seismic standards. However, it is interesting to note that some of those masonry buildings withstood very strong earthquakes and are still standing. This paper argues that traditional masonry buildings designed without reinforcement—as constructive and structural typology—are able to withstand earthquakes. This depends on several factors, including the type of soil—which has been studied by civil engineers—but also the constructive characteristics of these buildings. In this paper, we present three cases of historic buildings located in the port of Valparaiso, investigating the technical and construction details of the buildings; reviewing historical documents, information and descriptions; and providing a detailed technical description. This work can serve as a basis for an analysis of the real resistant capacity of these structures and thus contribute to their restoration and preservation.


Keywords: Historic buildings, earthquake, traditional construction