Website lets citizens preserve Chile’s architectural history

Launched by an academic at the Universidad Católica, fapCHILE allows Chileans to create a digital library of the buildings that they consider to be their national heritage. 

While working on the restoration of historic buildings in Chile, Francisco Prado, Professor of Civil Construction at the Universidad Católica (UC), discovered that there was no comprehensive list of the heritage buildings in his home country.

So Prado, who is also a member of the Chilean Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), set about harnessing the power of the internet and the desire of everyday Chileans to share and participate in social projects.

From that simple idea emerged the Fotografía de Arquitectura Patrimonial Chilena (Photography of Chilean Heritage Architecture) website, or fapCHILE, which has already generated images and information about more than 1,000 heritage buildings across Chile

But Prado’s aim is to do more than protect the country’s heritage buildings – itself no small task in a nation that is one of the most seismically active in the world. He also wants to find out which are the buildings that everyday Chileans consider to be important.

“The idea of the fapCHILE website is to share photographs of architecture that society considers to be heritage,” said Prado. “To see what it is that people value.”

So on February 23, 2012, the UC’s School of Civil Construction launched the fapChile website with an open invitation to all to participate: “photography lovers, Chileans and foreigners, amateurs, professionals, youths, adults, kids, housewives and anyone who has seen a building that moves them.”

The website displays the buildings on a digital map of Chile, divided into its 15 regions, although in these early days of the project only the Metropolitan and Valparaíso Regions have been represented.

Users can navigate the map and zoom in on specific locations.

Each building is categorized in one of 16 types, including religious, urban, industrial, cultural and funereal, among others. Further information is also supplied, such as location and current condition.

Users can create an account and begin adding photos, which are then available for free public download.

To explore the website, click here.