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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, last word

First of all, one building that didn’t fit any of the other categories:

Güemes 3950 (Palermo) I hadn’t been disappointed in my Estanislao Pirovano quest. But after seeing this former apartment building, I wonder what Pirovano was thinking when he designed this. There’s nothing wrong with it… just very blah compared to all his other buildings. Maybe he was merely fulfilling a client’s request. No Tudor, no Neocolonial, no dragons, nada. The most decorative part of the façade is the pediment with lots of frilly bits & curves to look at through the trees.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, unbuilt

Buenos Aires, Estanislao Pirovano, Aquarium Monumental, 1935

[Originally written on 21 Apr 2014, this post has been backdated in order to merge with others in this series.]

In the course of researching the life & work of Estanislao Pirovano, one source mentioned the architect’s plans for an immense National Aquarium. Obtained from a December 1943 issue of the magazine “Pique“, small, fuzzy reproductions hint at what would have been a masterpiece: 120 meters long & 70 meters wide. Location: the Costanera exactly where the old swimming point was located. They mention the project received approval in 1935, but its 130 tanks were never built.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neoprehispanic

Buenos Aires, San Nicolás, Estanislao Pirovano, La Nación/Falabella, Neoprehispanic

As part of an architectural & cultural movement from 1860 to 1900, nations once controlled by Spain began examining & re-evaluating their past. Dubbed Neoprehispánica, Neocolonial forms merged with indigenous influence in an attempt to create a unique, local style… very popular in México. Some authors refer to this style as Arequipeño based on architecture originating in Arequipa, Perú. Call it what you like, it’s gorgeous.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neocolonial

Buenos Aires, Flores, Estanislao Pirovano, Neocolonial

Coexisting with Art Deco & English Revival styles in the 1920’s was an idealized notion of Spanish architecture during colonial times. Certainly influenced by the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition, this style of architecture never existed in Buenos Aires prior to the 20th century. Ochre & white colors echo those of Sevilla, & delicate designs in columns & panels are inspired by a late Gothic-early Renaissance Spanish style known as plateresco. Derived from the Spanish word for silver (plata), the decoration mimics silver filigree work. Add to all of this a new interest in Spanish Mission architecture from California & you have the beginning of Latin American movement in architecture. Estanislao Pirovano joined the club.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, neotudor

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Estanislao Pirovano, Biblioteca Ricardo Güiraldes

Estanislao Pirovano’s most prolific style, Neotudor or Tudor Revival found fans around the world. I even found lots of it in Bogotá. Popular roughly during the same time as Art Deco, architects replicated simple, English country homes & often added local influences to make an eclectic mix. Pirovano excelled at combining four-centered arches, wooden doors, bay windows, fanciful columns, faux coats-of-arms & mythical/real beasts… very unique in Buenos Aires & something upper-class porteños wanted.

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buenos aires: estanislao pirovano, biography

Buenos Aires, Recoleta, Estanislao Pirovano, Escuela Argentina Modelo

As a major metropolitan area with such a rich & undeniably unique architectural heritage, much remains to be discovered in Buenos Aires. The city hides plenty of secrets. Less-transited areas often have beautiful buildings designed by formerly popular architects… who have now fallen into oblivion. Plans disappear, some works are demolished, and no one even records when they were born or when they died.

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buenos aires: encaustic tiles

Provincia de Buenos Aires, Saavedra, ayuntamiento, encaustic tiles

Mystery solved.

For years, I noticed a non-ceramic tile used on the floor of most older churches in downtown Buenos Aires. Those tiles retain their color despite heavy wear, the designs are unique & colors seem muted, earthy. Somehow I always forgot to check into it. But during a visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London a couple months ago, my questions were answered.

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