buenos aires: ciae architecture 3

CIAE architecture, Chiogna, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Subusina Montevideo

In 1915, the largest generator complex —Pedro de Mendoza— opened in the barrio of La Boca. But the CIAE began offering service the previous year from a facility in Recoleta. That building belongs to the next set of structures in terms of size:  6 subusinas which housed secondary generators named for the streets on which they are/were located. Besides generating electricity, customer service centers were located in three of the five buildings, marked below with an asterisk.

The Pacheco de Melo subusina #1 was located where an Edenor office now sits today. Nothing remains except for an often-published, old photograph. Unknown date of demolition:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Subusina Pacheco de Melo

The Balcarce subusina #2 was partially demolished in 1962, & only the customer service center portion remains standing… currently a substation for Edesur:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Monserrat, Subusina Balcarce

In 2014, a photo of the Moreno installation (either #3 or #5) appeared… unknown date of demolition. One small portion of the building remains standing, barely visible behind a local kiosk:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Balvanera, Subusina Moreno
CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Balvanera, Subusina Moreno

Subusina Tres Sargentos #4 still functions as such, dwarfed by surrounding buildings & their shadows:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Retiro, Subusina Tres Sargentos
CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Retiro, Subusina Tres Sargentos

The Montevideo subusina (either #3 or #5) has found new life as a holocaust museum… on loan for 99 years from the city government. Due to two bombings against the Jewish community in the 1990s, photography of this building is generally prohibited. But early Sunday morning is a good time to avoid the police patrol. You didn’t hear it from me though… :

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Subusina Montevideo
CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Subusina Montevideo

Subusina San Antonio #6 still bears Chiogna’s signature. This building might have led a double-life because it is also marked as Subestación #30. Since it is not as grand or as decorative as the previous subusinas described, this may have been originally built as a transformer substation then enlarged to become a secondary generator during a period of expanding service:

CIAE architecture, Chiogna, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Subusina San Antonio
CIAE architecture, Chiogna, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Subusina San Antonio

While not one of the original secondary generators (at least as mentioned by any of my sources… maybe a warehouse or storage facility??), another building in Barracas fits the same size category. Located at the intersection of Azara & Quinquela Martín, the corner tower is particularly dramatic:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Azara & Quinquela Martín
CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Azara & Quinquela Martín

But what makes this grand but otherwise simple building unique is its decoration –a crowned snake. He’s crumbling away so someone needs to take molds urgently before all traces disappear. While the example here is not eating a small child, without doubt the inspiration is the biscione on the Visconti family coat-of-arms… also found on the Alfa Romeo logo. The biscione is not found on any other CIAE building:

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Azara & Quinquela Martín, serpent
CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, Barracas, Azara & Quinquela Martín, serpent
Alfa Romeo logo

CIAE series: Electricity timeline Precedent & foundation Swiss holding companies Architecture 1 2 3 4 Expansion Scandal Fade to black Building list Bibliography

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