one step at a time…

bogotá: main museums

Museo de Oro, Bogotá, Colombia

I’ve enjoyed going to museums my whole life. Every Saturday as a kid growing up in Memphis, I remember pestering my mother to take me to the Pink Palace –a fantastic natural history museum– if we weren’t going to the zoo or to the movies. Or maybe do all three! No matter how many times I went, there was always something new to learn.

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bogotá: architecture

City view, from Atlantis shopping center, Bogotá

Bogotá’s growth as a city seemed to be outward rather than upward. Its relative lack of tall buildings point to the fact that acquiring new land was more economic than tearing down older structures & constructing taller ones in their place. Also, the fact that the region is prone to earthquakes made building low a priority. Good examples of colonial buildings dot La Candelaria. The biggest wow for me was the Franciscan Iglesia La Tercera, with construction beginning in 1760 & full of exquisite Rococo carvings… probably of walnut, very dark & sensual:

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bogotá: first impressions

Calle 19, Bogotá, Colombia

The Colombian capital evidently receives little tourism —odd since bogotanos are ultra friendly, the city sits in a privileged spot, the food is excellent, public transportation is easy & it’s an active & vibrant place. After seven days I felt I’d seen a good portion of the city, but there’s definitely more to explore for a second visit.

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housing for the masses: barrio juan perón, 1949

Barrio Juan Perón • Saavedra
Andonaegui & Larralde

Wow. That took forever to draw… I guess it’s a good thing since this 1949 project represents the first successful attempt to think outside the standard, Buenos Aires grid plan. No government-sponsored housing project had ever been attempted on such a large scale. The layout is not symmetrical, but it comes close. City limits obviously cramped the design since Avenida General Paz slices through the “U,” so planners extended the left (actually southwest) side slightly to compensate.

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housing for the masses: barrio 1º de marzo, 1948

Barrio 1º de Marzo, Buenos Aires, vivienda social, housing project Saavedra, 1948

Barrio 1º de Marzo • Saavedra
Galván & Larralde

In the same year that the concrete blocks of Barrio Balbastro housed families in Bajo Flores, a completely new idea popped up in Saavedra: the chalet californiano, single story houses set back from the street with terracotta roofs & wooden shutters. Based on Jesuit missions in California, a certain sector of the upper class loved this imported & definitely foreign style. The Perón government brought it to the people.

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housing for the masses: barrio balbastro, 1948

Buenos Aires, Flores, Barrio Balbastro, 1948

Barrio Balbastro, 1948 • (Bajo) Flores
Balbastro & Rivera Indarte

Welcome to the Perón era. With only four projects built in the previous 20 years, no doubt a housing crisis for lower income workers affected Buenos Aires… and provided good enough reason to eliminate the CNCB. Perón’s support came from the working class, so it’s not surprising that he began to cater to their needs.

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housing for the masses: casa colectiva martín rodríguez, 1943

Casa Colectiva Martín Rodríguez, 1943 • La Boca
Avenida Pedro de Mendoza & Martín Rodríguez

It was the end of an era. The ineffectiveness of the Comisión Nacional de Casas Baratas (CNCB) was evident by the end of the 1930’s. Proof can be seen in the huge number of alternative organizations to take up the slack suggested by city officials & the national Congress. Also, the number of constructed units was only small percentage of original projections.

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housing for the masses: barrio alvear 2, 1939

Barrio Alvear II, 1939 • Parque Avellaneda
Juan Vucetich & José Bonifacio

Remember the confusion of Barrio Alvear 1? Only four city blocks of chalets were built by the Comisión Nacional de Casas Baratas, marked with the number 1 on the map below. Funds could not keep up with increased costs but 16 years later, the project continued.

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