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Preserving historic architecture in Argentine capital

09-05-2013 11:12 BJT

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Underinvestment and unimaginative architecture are throwing a shadow over the future cityscape of Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital is struggling to preserve its allure as one of Latin America’s most celebrated cities, as development threatens its historic buildings.

With its melting pot of styles, Buenos Aires has long been recognized as a city of great architecture. In the early 20th century, the Argentine capital was one of the world’s richest cities, and the commissioning of famous architects from across the globe resulted in buildings featuring numerous influences.

The Argentine capital is struggling to preserve its allure as one of Latin
America’s most celebrated cities, as development threatens its
historic buildings.

But following years of political and economic upheaval, what was once distinguished is now languishing. Critics say illegal demolitions, prolonged underinvestment and uninspired architecture threaten to erase the city’s physical heritage. Gerardo Coronado, the ombudsman of the city government’s planning department, is tasked with processing the growing number of complaints from residents.

Gerardo Coronado, Ombudsman, Planning Department of Buenos Aires, said, "In this world of globalization, which brings a kind of uniformity, so regarding construction, they build the same in Buenos Aires, as in New York, in Madrid or in Dubai. It also has to do with the pressure from the real estate industry that in their search for new spaces to build using height, resulted in them beginning to demolish buildings that just have one, or two, or three floors that really had the characteristics of the traditional neighborhoods of Buenos Aires."

Protect Barracas, a community spirited neighbourhood group, has made it its aim to protect the city’s old ports. Originally starting out as a blog in 2007, the group now makes up of over 15 regular members and countless supporters meet regularly in some of the neighbourhood’s most idiosyncratic locations, which they repeatedly lobby for preservation by legislation. Alberto Damian, a member of the group, says it’s really about empowering a community.

The Argentine capital is struggling to preserve its allure as one of
Latin America’s most celebrated cities, as development threatens
its historic buildings.

Alberto Damian, Member, Protect Barracas, said, "After many discussions and meetings with neighbors in order to secure their collaboration, we were able to be more informed and conscious of the whole system, so much so that we could mobilize legislation or request for applicable legislation."

Preservationists recognize that evolution is inevitable but argue that too little of the city’s history is being spared. Teresa Anchorena is a member of the National Commission of Museums, Monuments and Historic Places, which lobbies for the protection of hundreds of sites throughout the country.

Teresa Anchorena, Member, Nat’l Commis. of Museums, Monu’ts & Historic Places, said, "Architects have to understand that there is a place for everything in Buenos Aires. They can build high rises in places where they can really be jewels and they might be the patrimony of the future but they must always respect the spaces where the historic buildings are."

So as with most major cities that are rapidly changing, it’s important to strike a balance between maintaining a city’s charm and constructing a legacy for the future.


Editor:Bai Yang |Source:

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