New Law Protects Architectural Heritage of Buenos Aires
A new law has been ratified that will prevent the demolition of buildings that were constructed before 1941. The architecture of Argentina’s capital city, Buenos Aires is what attracts and captures the hearts of so many tourists, expats and Argentines. Porteño architecture is a real mish-mash of different architectural style from throughout the ages with influences from many of the various immigrant communities that came to Argentine shores.
In recent years, the Porteño capital, Buenos Aires, has seen a boom in real estate resulting in the aggressive and often thoughtless demolition of historical buildings. The law aims to prevent the destruction of the city’s older buildings that before were often destroyed to make way for tower blocks, office space and apartments buildings. On 23rd December, an appeal was presented to the Argentine congress asking for the legal protection of all buildings constructed before 1941. Six NGOs had been working together to push forward the new legislation and provide popular support for the protection of classic buildings in Buenos Aires.
Recent cases of the destruction of treasured buildings have shocked the city’s residents and campaigners. For instance, the Richmond Café – a national treasure that the likes of Jorge Luis Borges would frequent – has been bought by Nike and changed forever. The Richmond Café was designed by the Belgian architect, Jules Dormal, who also designed the spectacular Teatro Colón (Colon Theatre). The sacrifice of national heritage for the wants of multinational companies is sadly all too common an occurrence in Argentina.
Another architectural and historical gem was destroyed in the Flores neighbourhood in December 2011. The home of famous Argentina poet, Alfonsina Storni, (that was about to be declared a site of cultural importance) was illegally demolished. This was despite the fact that it was awaiting approval and that the house was in perfect condition architecturally. The destruction of this building caused uproar in the local neighbourhood.
The protection of historical buildings is vital in attracting tourism to Buenos Aires and to maintain the city’s unique look and feel. However, despite the introduction of new laws, some argue that the punishments and reprimands for illegally demolishing buildings are too light. A property developer who wishes to construct on the site of a historic building could simply ignore the legislation and demolish the building only to be given a relatively small fine. Campaigners are claiming that prison sentences should be given out to developers who disobey the rules.
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