juan chiogna

buenos aires: ciae building list / inventario

CIAE, building map, 1931

A list of all buildings which once belonged to the Compañía Italo-Argentina de Electricidad must exist somewhere in old company archives. But after being absorbed by SEGBA in 1979, it’s anyone’s guess as to where that list may be. And how many of those structures have been demolished since then? Reading & researching the CIAE’s crazy history over the past month, I also noticed that there is no online source dedicated to the CIAE. That needs to change.

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buenos aires: ciae architecture 4

CIAE architecture, Juan Chiogna, Buenos Aires, Puerto Madero, subestación

The smallest scale CIAE structures designed by Juan Chiogna are nothing more than decorative boxes. Transformer substations were needed to distribute electricity throughout the city… in order to overcome cable resistance, transformers are used to ramp up the voltage before sending it to substations where it is then converted back to regular voltage for local consumption.

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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.

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buenos aires: ciae architecture 2

CIAE architecture, Buenos Aires, La Boca, Chiogna, Usina Pedro de Mendoza

The CIAE ensured that Juan Chiogna’s Romanesque Revival spread throughout Buenos Aires plus its southern suburbs & remains a distinct feature of the entire urban area. Buildings appeared on three scales & larger structures had more decorative elements. The largest of Chiogna’s works was the first generator complex in La Boca, the Usina Pedro de Mendoza. Initially a 3-story rectangular structure in 1915, it occupied approximately one-quarter of the city block with the street façade decorated by a tower on one end & an ochava office entrance on the other:

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buenos aires: ciae architecture 1

Buenos Aires, CIAE subestación, vector render

With financial needs met, a concession from Buenos Aires granted & service scheduled to begin in 1914, Carosio hired Juan Chiogna to build fantastic covers for CIAE generators & substations. Reminding passersby of Medieval Italy, these eye-catching structures only served as decorative shells to house large machinery, spare equipment & cables. Local architects term the style “Lombardy Romanesque” likely due to an early reference found in La Nacion newspaper in 1916:

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