EXPERIENCES OF SOCIAL PARTICIPATION IN THE RECOVERY OF VERNACULAR HERITAGE IN SOUTHERN ECUADOR
Since 2011, within the framework of a research project shared between the University of Cuenca (UC) and the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven), several practical experiences were proposed and carried out in order to identify paths and actions that allow reversing a marked trend to the loss of built cultural assets, both in the rural and urban context. Most of these assets are made up of vernacular architecture built with technologies such as adobe or bahareque, which use the earth as an essential building material. From the beginning of the first intervention in Susudel (2011), it was important to carry out constant and sustained work with the respective communities and actors involved. It was necessary to inform them about the initiative, but, above all, to involve them consistently, completely and directly, throughout the process, in decision-making and in the search for solutions that were finally applied in the interventions. A comparison between all the interventions carried out from the year 2011 until 2018 show a very significant change of social involvement, both in quantity as well as in quality, with each new intervention. From an empirical and intuitive process, we have moved to a more technical, planned and structured one, based on participatory methodologies that allow a more intense and proactive involvement of communities in the search for solutions and commitments. The article analyzes the participatory process during 4 preventive conservation experiences applied in the town of Susudel and the city of Cuenca, in southern Ecuador, over the past 7 years.