Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Architecture Disrespect in Santiago and beyond

Architecture disrespect is a term I coined one day when I uploaded this photo to my flickr stream. It's a picada, or sort of a snackbar at the corner of the Alameda (that's Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins to you) and calle dieciocho (thus the nubmer 18 on the sign). What we have is a beautiful piece of architecture, beautifully tooled and detailed that's been turned into an afterthought, a hat, if you will for a place to eat greasy sandwiches, wipe your fingers on waxed-paper napkins and drink a liter of beer at one sitting.

architecture disrespect

In my amblings about town, I soon realized that this was not the only gorgeous corner building in Santiago turned into something else.

Here's another one, same main street but a few blocks west. Not quite as garish signage, but still kind of grumpymaking from the historical preservation front.


Then there's this one, which I guess is a pretty good use of the space, signage not that egregious, though this building used to be blue before the Cruz Verde (literally: green cross) pharmacy moved in. On the Plaza de Armas, southeast corner.

architecture disrespect 2

And just so you know it's not just Santiago, here's an example from Valparaíso, down in the plan, not up on the cerrros where everyone will tell you all the beauty is, which is plainly not true. This is not far from the bus station, which I had thought was on Condell, but which Lydia was able to identify as being on Av. Uruguay. And she tells us (see comments) that it's not alone.

Yellow building in the "plan"

And in case you thought this repurposing of gorgeous buildings for fast food joints an the like was limited to Chile, here's a shot I snapped in downtown Montevideo (Uruguay).

streetscape, Montevideo, with McDonalds

But disrespect comes in many forms. You can let a building practically fall down, neglect it and build giant modern buildings beside it, like this one in La Paz.

regarding urban decay

Or, a continent away, you can take a beautiful, classically styled and built building, like this one in Oamaru, New Zealand and shine a kaleidoscope of colors on it so bright that it blinds nearby cyclists.

extreme architecture disrespect

On the one hand, I'm more of a watcher and reporter than doer. A friend of mine refers to my photographic style as "documentarian" (who knew I had a style, I thought I just had an itchy shutter finger), so I guess on some level, I like these contrasts, even though I find them aesthetically disturbing. So I probably won't join any campaign to preserve, to fix, to prevent these advances. I'll just quietly stand nearby, whip the camera out, click, and walk away. All you'll hear is the velcro on my camera bag, and then I'm gone.


Margaret said...

Oh this type of disrespect goes on everywhere! There's even a street-level MacDonalds built into a 14th century arch in Freiburg, Germany!
This is a topic that could go a long, long way!

Kim said...

At street level we may not even realize what beauty rises above us. Trying to stay on the sidewalk and not be run over by masses of other pedestrians prevents us from looking up very often. But just today I was noticing some of the amazing buildings and snapping photos of the lovely balconies overlooking the streets of Cordoba.

Not sure how you found me, but I've enjoyed reading some of your posts and will be back when I have time to read more. Love the whole story behind your blog name too :)

I don't have a food processor so can't make my own peanut butter. But we don't really eat that much so stocking up when we visit Sta. Rosa serves us well. This coming week I plan to make peanut butter cookies for English class. As you know, American style cookies are not very common so it'll be fun to see how they like these. They enjoy my homemade granola bars but not all of them like the brownies. It's sort of a hit-and-miss thing with food. The adults tend to love my cornbread but the kids rarely do :) And forget casseroles! They don't like to mix their foods at all.

Are your Starbucks stocked with flavored syrups? We don't have any around here and, I have to say, I miss hazelnut and amaretto! But the café con leche we get most places is DELICIOUS! Even most gas stations make excellent coffee.

Anonymous said...

True. They are lovely buildings with big neon or painted signs. I like it when cities decide to stay in the same style, but I guess that can't happen everywhere. Nice pics!

lydia said...

the valpo photo is on av. uruguay. the plan is FULL of *architecture disrespect*!!! and unfortunately, their worst. another good valpo one would be the church with all the commercial phone companies and such on the main level hahaha

Cate said...

I was brought up in Oamaru and I can tell you, that didn't happen when I was kid. It just looks disgusting, like the Eiffel Tower with its laser show, there is a fine line between beauty and tacky. I saw a lot of ugliness in San Jose Costa Rica, old buildings with fast food outlets inside them, but I think people are getting the message that these places need to be loved and cared for.

Eileen said...

well, shout 'em out, post 'em up!

And Cate, Oamaru was the end of my trip from Greymouth by bike, and I loved that little city, but almost threw up when I saw what they did to that building at night. And when I went a penguin tour (yeah, I know, but everyone was doing it)the driver talked on and on about the innovation of lighting up that building.

Thanks for dropping by! I'll have to see what you're up to in your own corner of the internet!

Kim, I found you because you linked to me re: bad travel stories (I think) and so someone clicked from you to my blog, and so I had to see who this person that was sending traffic my way was. And then you talked about peanut butter, so I just had to respond! And I don't know if our Starbucks have syrups. I think maybe yes. I'm a no-sugar-in-the-coffee person, and that includes syrups, but it seems they've been offered to me before, so they must exist.

dining room table said...

There are lots of beautiful buildings in the world that is disrespect just like that. I think we can't stop that to happen.

Candice said...

Uhhh, I actually am kinda in love with that last one...

Dan said...

For more butchered buildings, try Prague. The old town center is especially rife with architectural contempt. One after another tacky trinket shops. UNESCO should place it on the World Heritage endangered list if it isn't there already.