Modern Design

Alejandro Aravena is an architect from Santiago, Chile. He won the Pritzker Architecture award in 2016 and was a professor at Harvard for a time. His unique approach to architecture, specifically design that impacts community can be seen in the following TED talk.

 

Aravena’s understanding of Chilean culture is an important influence in his work. For example, he utilized the ability of the community to build an add-on to the urban homes he created to fulfill a need that went above the budget. The Chilean’s affected by the tsunami were also very vocal about their needs and desires. In order to accommodate their wish to stay on their land and honor the importance of the river to their culture Aravena created a design that provided a natural barrier between the citizens and the water.

Watching this talk I realized that architecture is so much more than simple buildings. Architecture can be a reflection of culture and an adaptation of means and needs. Ultimately architecture is not about the building, but the people who will be inside.

Culture Entry #2-Spanish Architecture in the Americas

Following Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas in the 15th century, Hispanic interest in colonizing the New World grew. Not only did they bring goods, sicknesses, new rulers, and settlements to the Americas, but these Hispanic countries also brought their architectural influence.

Many of the colonies in modern day Florida, California, Arizona, and New Mexico featured Spanish inspired architecture. Some of these historical structures can still be seen today.

Although limited by the materials of the new locales the Spanish colonialists attempted to recreate popular Baroque style with simplified building materials, such as adobe clay and wood. A combination of Moorish, Native American, and Spanish elements created an eclectic new style of architecture.

The following video showcases some beautiful buildings in Santa Barbara, California. You will probably recognize some classic examples of Spanish architecture such as red tile roofs and white exteriors.

 

The architectural culture of Spain and America blur in the areas where the Spanish settled the New World.

Sources:

  1. https://architecturestyles.org/spanish-colonial/
  2. http://online.nmartmuseum.org/nmhistory/art-architecture/spanish-colonial-architecture/history-spanish-colonial-architecture.html
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8x5-U_8IOE

Culture Entry #1-The Architectural History of Cuba

When roaming the streets of Cuba, one can see architectural masterpieces ranging from the sixteenth century all the way to modern day. The city of Havana, Cuba is one of the most architecturally eclectic areas. The streets of Cuba tell the history of this Latin American country.

Many of the buildings of Cuba were inspired by outside influences. For example, some of the earliest building feature Spanish-Moorish designs which were brought to Cuba by Spanish colonizers in the sixteenth century. Some of the architectural designs that were popular at this time were patios, artistic tiles, and fountains. These ideas were adapted to fit the Cuban climate. Exposed patios were converted into covered “portales” and beautiful tinted glass windows, “vitrales”, were fitted above doorways to filter the tropical sun rays. The rise of slave trade and the popularity of sugar plantations brought about the construction of grand colonial mansions such as the Hostel Conde de Villanueve in Old Havana, which is now a hotel.

CondedeVillanueva-(47)

(http://www.gaviotahotels.com/en/hotels-in-cuba/havana)

In the eighteenth century, the style of Cuban Baroque was created. A reference to the earlier Baroque movement in Italy and Europe, the Cuban version was more streamlined since the construction was mostly done by a large slave force. Many public buildings were created in this style.

catedral

(Pinterest)

Throughout the nineteenth century, architecture was inspired by French styles. Due to an influx of French immigrants Cuba now had many Neoclassical buildings with crisp structures, columns, and pastel colors.

cienfuegos-city-teatro-terry-front-view

(http://www.cienfuegoscity.org/cienfuegos-city-arch-tomas-terry-theater.htm)

In the early twentieth century Cuba was a major sugar-cane producer and a rich country. Architecture reflected the opulence of this time as large architectural projects were undertaken. Many buildings were influenced by the United States, such as the Capitolio Nacional.

The-building-of-the-Capitolio-Nacional-photo-by-jodastephen

(http://www.cubawanderer.com/visit-the-capitolio-nacional-in-havana/)

Finally, art deco and eclectic architecture became popular in the late twentieth century. Edificio Bacardi, formerly the Havana headquarters of the popular rum company, is an example of the art deco style that was popular in the 1920s.

BacardiRumBuilding

(http://melbourneblogger.blogspot.com/2012/01/bacardi-rums-building-resurrected-in.html)

Eclectic architecture broke boundaries of architecture in the 1920s and 30s. Families made rich off of their sugar trade competed to create the most beautiful and elaborate residencies.

casa espanola

(https://robinthom.photoshelter.com/image/I0000pH5bws.bwdo)

Although the rise of Communist leadership has stunted the growth and development of new architectural design and the harsh environment has made maintaining these historical buildings difficult, Cubans have persevered. With lessening restrictions on real estate and a relinquished travel ban with the United States, the vibrancy of Cuba is slowly returning. Soon a walk through Cuba will be the best way to travel back in time.

Sources:

  1. https://insightcuba.com/blog/2013/09/13/architecture-in-cuba-havana
  2. http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20121018-cubas-eclectic-architecture
  3. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/havana-cuba-travel-article

Initial Reflection and Topic Proposal

Cultural competence is so important. Webster’s dictionary defines this concept as the ability or skill to understand the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group. I hope to grow in my understanding of Hispanic culture through the study of this region’s architecture. While I know that it will take much longer than one semester to truly understand the heart and intricate beliefs of a group of people I look forward to delving deeper into this unique part of the world.

I have chosen to look at Hispanic culture through the lens of architecture because whenever I look at images or videos from Hispanic regions I am drawn to the unique buildings. Whether it be the choice of colors or interesting construction I find that I am left with a desire to know more about these buildings. Perhaps the outside of the structure can give me some clues to those who live within its walls.

3spainbuilding

https://www.highbrowmagazine.com/5884-praise-spain-s-architecture