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Latin American Architecture I INTRODUCTION Oldest Cathedral in the Western Hemisphere The oldest cathedral in the Western hemisphere is the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, constructed between 1512 and 1541 in Santo Domingo, now the capitol of the Dominican Republic.

Publié le 12/05/2013

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Latin American Architecture I INTRODUCTION Oldest Cathedral in the Western Hemisphere The oldest cathedral in the Western hemisphere is the Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, constructed between 1512 and 1541 in Santo Domingo, now the capitol of the Dominican Republic. It features round arches borrowed from Renaissance architecture and elaborate carving that is characteristic of late gothic decoration. Tom Bean/ALLSTOCK, INC. Latin American Architecture, architecture created in colonial settlements of the Americas after the arrival of Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) conquerors around 1500, also called Ibero-American architecture. The first settlements built by Iberian colonists were in the Caribbean islands; those in Mexico, Central America, and South America followed. Latin American architecture also includes the buildings of Spanish colonists in North America, especially in Florida, California, and Texas. Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca, Mexico Dominican friars began construction of Santo Domingo Church and Monastery in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 1550, but it was not completed until a century later. Typical of much early colonial architecture in Latin America, it combines the simple horizontal and vertical lines of a Renaissance structure with ornate carving on the facade. The carving continues on an even grander scale inside the church, which is filled with dazzlingly intricate plaster and gilt work. Allen Russell/ProFiles West The term Ibero-American architecture is useful for distinguishing the Iberian-influenced traditions of Central and South America from the predominantly English and northern European architectural traditions of North America. Yet the term misleadingly suggests that there is a single shared building style or unified architectural history in Latin America. In reality, tremendous variations in culture, geography, and climate within this vast region counteract the unifying influences of Iberian colonial culture. Latin America encompasses the primitive Native American settlements of the tropical Amazon River basin; the advanced Andean mountain cultures of the Inca Empire in Peru; the quaint, Alpine-style towns of German settlers in southern Brazil; and the formal English grandeur of Spanish Town, Jamaica. The terms IberoAmerican and Latin American architecture also fail to account for the significant differences between the Spanish and the Portuguese cultures in Latin America. The Portuguese, who began to colonize Brazil in the 1530s, produced an architecture that generally followed European styles more closely than did Spanish colonial architecture. The architecture of Latin America documents the European conquest of the region and the domination of the native peoples. Although the conquest destroyed much that was native, the colonial culture that subsequently developed in Latin America also absorbed some native elements. Colonial architecture reflects a rich mixture of European styles with the traditions of Native Americans and of Africans who were imported as slaves. In its modern form, Latin American architecture involves a search for a unique cultural identity. In theory this identity rejects colonial and even modern European traditions, but in practice it builds upon them, transforms them, or adapts them to the special requirements of Latin American places, climates, and attitudes. II ARCHITECTURE AND CONQUEST Colonial Fortress The imposing fortress of San Felipe de Barajas, in the foreground, was built in the mid-17th century to defend the colonial port settlement of Cartagena. Modern day Cartagena, Colombia, can be seen in the background. Dave G. Houser/Post-Houserstock/Corbis The use of architecture and urban planning as tools of European conquest is a recurrent theme in Latin American history. King Philip II of Spain ordered town planners to use a grid or checkerboard plan for the layout of new towns and cities in his "Laws of the Indies" (1573). This series of guidelines and planning rules was intended to impose rational order and European administrative control on the new settlements. The plan featured a plaza major, or central square, with the main church, government buildings, and residences of the authorities facing the square. In port cities straight streets connected the plaza major to the warehouses and docks of the port and to the imposing fortresses that protected them. Early colonial ports of this design include those in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Havana, Cuba; Cartagena, Colombia; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Most early colonial architects working in Latin American cities were actually military engineers. The Italian engineer J. B. Antonelli, for example, designed many major Spanish forts along the Caribbean coast. As a result, many early colonial buildings, both civic and religious, resemble fortresses. These massive stone structures, unadorned and stern, announce the severity of Spanish priorities in the colonies: the extraction of raw materials and the protection of trade at all costs. Examples of the heaviness and simplicity of the early colonial style are the Palace of Diego Colón (1510) in Santo Domingo, and the Cathedral of Mérida (1571-1598, Mérida, Mexico), which was designed by fortifications experts. III COLONIAL CHURCH DESIGN Altarpiece, San Luis Potosí, Mexico The 18th-century altarpiece "La Portada de los Arcángeles" (Doorway of the Archangels) is one of the masterpieces of baroque architectural sculpture in Mexico. The ornate altarpiece is in the 18th-century church Nuestra Señora del Carmen in the city of San Luis Potosí. Macduff Everton/Corbis Another priority of the Iberian conquerors was the mass conversion of native people to Christianity. For this purpose they created a new architectural type: a large, open-air sanctuary called an atrio. Atrio complexes of the 16th century, such as those built for Franciscan missionaries in Mexico, consist of a huge, square courtyard with a large stone pavilion, or posa, at each of the four corners. Native Americans were first forced to erect the atrios and were then brought into them for religious conversion by the thousands. The posas at the mission at Huejotzingo (1540s) in Mexico reflect a mixture of Spanish sternness and native craftsmanship typical of this period in rural areas. Churrigueresque Church This church in Potosí, Bolivia, is an example of the Churrigueresque architectural style that was brought to Latin America from Spain in the 18th century. This style is characterized by elaborate ornamentation and open, curving shapes. The style was named for the Churriguera family of Spain; many members of this family were architects and sculptors. Stephen Ferry/Liaison Agency In major cities the early colonial architecture of the Spaniards and Portuguese adheres more strictly to Iberian styles. The first cathedral in the Americas was the Cathedral of Santo Domingo (1512-1541), designed by Spanish architect Rodrigo de Liendo. The cathedral facade features classical archways combined with elaborate ornamentation. It closely follows the plateresque style then popular in Spain, which combined the classical structure of Italian Renaissance architecture with the detailed carving of late gothic decoration. In Mexico City, the much larger , along with the adjacent Sagrario Chapel, reflects several centuries of Spanish styles. The two structures include elements of the austere, unornamented Herreran style, named for the 16th-century Spanish architect Juan de Herrera; the ornate baroque Churrigueresque style of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, named for Spanish architect José Benito Churriguera; and the simple dignity of the 19th-century neoclassical style. Construction of the cathedral began in the 1560s and ended in 1813. More typical of Mexico are styles that mix folk and baroque influences and appear in the Soledad Church in Oaxaca and the Tepalcingo Church in Morelos, both from about 1700. These churches feature densely sculpted facades resembling the ornate altarpieces characteristic of Latin American church interiors. Decorated Facade, Puebla, Mexico Ornate plasterwork decorates the colorful facade of this building in Puebla, which dates from Mexico's colonial past. Puebla is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Mexico. Tono Labra/age fotostock In early colonial Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Jesuit and Benedictine religious orders built monastic complexes and fortress-churches in what was known as the Portuguese plain style. The style was named for the unadorned exteriors and simple, rectilinear whitewashed facades that characterize it. Portuguese builders and their patrons used this stern style as a means of imposing a sense of discipline and European order on the colony. Unlike in Mexico, builders in colonial Brazil generally reserved extravagant decoration for church interiors, which featured richly carved and gilded wooden altarpieces and colorful blue-and-white azulejos (traditional Portuguese ceramic tiles). Azulejo decorations are found in Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro (Our Lady of Glory on the Hillock) in Rio de Janeiro, an early 18th-century church attributed to Portuguese engineer José Cardoso Romalho. Like most colonial Brazilian buildings, the church exterior is of whitewashed masonry with brown stone trim. Whitewashing exteriors, an Iberian tradition inherited from North Africa, was a practical way of adapting to the hot local climate: The heat of the tropical sun reflects off the white surface rather than penetrating to the interior of the building. IV ALEIJADINHO Church of San Francisco de Asís, Ouro Prêto The Church of San Francisco de Asís (Saint Francis of Assisi) is one of the architectural treasures in Ouro Prêto, Brazil. This historic city in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. The church is one of many works found in and around Ouro Prêto by the Brazilian architect and sculptor known as Aleijadinho. Peter M. Wilson/Corbis The church designs of Brazilian sculptor and architect Antônio Francisco Lisbôa (better known as Aleijadinho, meaning "little cripple") provide some of the finest examples of the process of cultural mixing in Latin American architecture. In the Church of São Francisco de Assís (1764-1774) in Ouro Prêto, Brazil, Aleijadinho adapted traditional Portuguese themes and materials, including whitewashed finishes and dark stone trim, into an expressive and sensuous architecture of flowing curves and gracefully decorated interiors. The son of a Portuguese architect and an African slave woman, Aleijadinho exemplifies the racial and cultural mixture that gave Ouro Prêto and the surrounding mining region of Minas Gerais their uniquely Brazilian flavor. As a social outcast (on account of his mixed race and the disease that deformed his arms and legs), Aleijadinho was rejected by official circles and powerful Portuguese patrons. His art has been interpreted by some Brazilian scholars as a deliberate rejection of the hard-edged plain style that prevailed in the colonial capital, Rio de Janeiro, and that was most associated with the power of the Portuguese conquerors. V ARCHITECTURE AFTER INDEPENDENCE Municipal Theater, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) was designed by Brazilian architect Oliveira Passos and completed abiyt 1910. The theater's façade exemplifies the Parisian styles favored by Brazilian architects and designers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Latin Focus The progress that Aleijadinho had made toward the development of a sensuous, flexible, and uniquely Brazilian style subsequently suffered a setback as, during the 19th century, Latin American architecture as a whole turned to French-inspired historical styles. This change reflected the cultural dominance of France throughout Europe, especially in the technical academies where European architects were trained. Ironically, Latin American political independence, achieved around 1820, initially brought with it little cultural or artistic independence. Economic domination by powerful European nations, including Britain and France, increased in the cities. This socalled neocolonial period saw efforts to transform Latin America's greatest cities--including Buenos Aires in Argentina and Rio de Janeiro--into Latin American versions of Paris, with its broad, tree-lined boulevards, art museums, and opera house. The Teatro Municipal (Municipal Theater) in Rio de Janeiro splendidly exemplifies the Parisian styles and fashions favored by the Brazilian upper class. It was designed by Brazilian architect Oliveira Passos and was completed about 1910. Monumental urban architecture in Latin America reflects the fact that cultural dependence on Europe only became stronger under the elite class ruling the newly independent countries. VI MODERN ARCHITECTURE National Congress, Brasília The legislature of Brazil meets in the National Congress Building in the capital, Brasília. Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer designed the government buildings, which display his bold use of concrete to create structures that seem to float. Archivo Fotografico Oronoz During the 1920s Latin American architects at last began systematically to reject imported European styles and find their own creative, modern solutions. Even then, they remained heavily indebted to modern European ideas and architects such as the Swiss-born Le Corbusier, who traveled to South America in 1929 and 1936. The chief impact of Le Corbusier was to free those who came under his influence from the stale formulas of European academic and historical styles. Le Corbusier urged Latin American architects to use local and native elements in design, to embrace the flowing curves of the Latin landscape, and to approach the design process from a more spontaneous and emotional point of view. He encouraged the use of modern materials such as reinforced concrete to answer the need for low-cost, standardized housing in Latin American cities, and he proposed several utopian plans for cities. Mosaic by Juan O'Gorman The mosaic on the exterior of the library at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, in Mexico City, was designed by Mexican artist Juan O'Gorman in 1952. Scenes from the history of Mexico are illustrated, and the images range from Aztec designs and mythological creatures to modern figures and activities. Bridgeman Art Library, London/New York Le Corbusier's ideas influenced the first modern public building in Latin America, the Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro (1936-1943), which was designed by Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, and several other Brazilian architects in collaboration with Le Corbusier. Led by Niemeyer, the Brazilian design team introduced grace, flexibility, and structural lightness to Le Corbusier's heavy concrete slab. The building also featured blue-and-white azulejotiles by Brazilian painter Cándido Portinari and a tropical roof garden designed by Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Luis Barragán's House Mexican architect Luis Barragán resisted the sleek chrome and glass of European modernism in favor of traditional local materials such as stucco and wood. The simplicity of these materials sets off the beauty of the pure geometric forms he uses. Shown here is the interior of Barragán's home in Mexico City. © 2007 Barragan Foundation, Switzerland / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / Photo: Nicolas Sapieha/Art Resource, NY Influenced by Le Corbusier and the tropical landscape of Brazil, Niemeyer developed a curving free-form style in reinforced concrete. His goal was to break with the rational and technological concerns of modern European designers to create a more expressive and poetic architecture that would be uniquely Brazilian. In this he was inspired by his teacher Lúcio Costa, who in turn was moved by the architecture of Aleijadinho in the state of Minas Gerais. The works of Aleijadinho and Niemeyer share a sensual interest in flowing curves, a baroque sense of drama, and a feeling for powerful sculptural effects. Niemeyer's early masterpiece, the Chapel of São Francisco (1940-1943) in Pampulha reflects in reinforced concrete the architect's modern version of a colonial baroque theme: a unitary nave--without aisles or bays--that focuses all attention on the high altar. Niemeyer's most significant accomplishment is in the futuristic Brazilian capital of Brasília, for which he designed all the major buildings between 1956 and 1964. Roof of the Olympic Sports Palace, Mexico City Workmen clamber over the copper-sheeted roof of the Sports Palace as it neared completion for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico. The design of the roof reflects the interest of Spanish-born architect Félix Candela in unconventional, geometric vaulting. Bettmann/Corbis Elsewhere in Latin America, the effects of Le Corbusier and the Brazilian experiment were strongly felt. In Venezuela architect explored the structural and expressive potential of reinforced concrete in buildings he designed for the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas, especially the Stadium (1950-1952) and the Aula Magna (Main Auditorium, 1952). In Mexico Felix Candela achieved a unique synthesis of advanced structure and poetic form in his thin, curved shells of reinforced concrete, best illustrated in his Cosmic Ray Pavilion (1951) on the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City. On the same campus, Mexican architect Juan O'Gorman faced the concrete slab of his National Library (1952-1953) with mosaics depicting Mexican history. Like the Brazilians, both O'Gorman and his Mexican contemporary sought to combine simple geometric forms, modern materials, and indigenous elements from colonial, local, and vernacular, or popular, traditions. Barragán's house (1947) in Tacubaya, Mexico, and the San Cristobal Estate (1967-1968) in Mexico City added to those design elements a poetic use of water, vegetation, and magical color. Central to 20th-century architecture in Latin America has been the project of adapting the modern and the European to the local. Modern Latin American design has also been driven by a quest for cultural identity through architecture and by the utopian desire to use design to create a better world for the people of Latin America. Contributed By: David K. Underwood Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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« Colonial FortressThe imposing fortress of San Felipe de Barajas, in the foreground, was built in the mid-17th century to defend the colonialport settlement of Cartagena. Modern day Cartagena, Colombia, can be seen in the background.Dave G. Houser/Post-Houserstock/Corbis The use of architecture and urban planning as tools of European conquest is a recurrent theme in Latin American history. King Philip II of Spain ordered town plannersto use a grid or checkerboard plan for the layout of new towns and cities in his “Laws of the Indies” (1573). This series of guidelines and planning rules was intended toimpose rational order and European administrative control on the new settlements. The plan featured a plaza major , or central square, with the main church, government buildings, and residences of the authorities facing the square. In port cities straight streets connected the plaza major to the warehouses and docks of theport and to the imposing fortresses that protected them. Early colonial ports of this design include those in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Havana, Cuba;Cartagena, Colombia; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Most early colonial architects working in Latin American cities were actually military engineers. The Italian engineer J. B. Antonelli, for example, designed many majorSpanish forts along the Caribbean coast. As a result, many early colonial buildings, both civic and religious, resemble fortresses. These massive stone structures,unadorned and stern, announce the severity of Spanish priorities in the colonies: the extraction of raw materials and the protection of trade at all costs. Examples of theheaviness and simplicity of the early colonial style are the Palace of Diego Colón (1510) in Santo Domingo, and the Cathedral of Mérida (1571-1598, Mérida, Mexico),which was designed by fortifications experts. III COLONIAL CHURCH DESIGN Altarpiece, San Luis Potosí, MexicoThe 18th-century altarpiece “La Portada de los Arcángeles” (Doorway of the Archangels) is one of the masterpieces ofbaroque architectural sculpture in Mexico. The ornate altarpiece is in the 18th-century church Nuestra Señora del Carmenin the city of San Luis Potosí.Macduff Everton/Corbis Another priority of the Iberian conquerors was the mass conversion of native people to Christianity. For this purpose they created a new architectural type: a large,open-air sanctuary called an atrio. Atrio complexes of the 16th century, such as those built for Franciscan missionaries in Mexico, consist of a huge, square courtyard with a large stone pavilion, or posa , at each of the four corners. Native Americans were first forced to erect the atrios and were then brought into them for religious conversion by the thousands. The posas at the mission at Huejotzingo (1540s) in Mexico reflect a mixture of Spanish sternness and native craftsmanship typical of thisperiod in rural areas. »

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