Chile Architecture 1991

By | December 14, 2021

The last thirty years of the history of Chilean architecture is of great importance as it is a period of time that embraces various and important events. The 1960s were in fact the last stage in the maturation of modern architecture in Chile. The following period, which goes from 1970 to 1979, is characterized by the pluralism of styles and trends and by the decadence of the architecture of the previous decade, and reaches up to the years 1980-81, when a great building activity takes place in the country which opens the doors to a period of research of roots and identity in Chilean architecture. This phase, although it took shape a few years earlier, took shape only in this last period of time (1982-90).

The Sixties are one of the most interesting phases, being at the culmination of a 25-year cycle (1945-70), and are characterized by an international style, in which the architects propose a generalized concept of expression as a formal feature, which seeks the purity of volume, geometry and functionality. The language of this style is totally rationalist, derived from the influence of the International Style, which developed after World War II in Europe and the USA. For Chile 2019, please check

Among the architects and their most significant works we can mention Martín and Gabriel Guarda with the Benedictine Monastery (Santiago, 1963), characterized by an interesting domain of light in the interior and a great volumetric expressiveness on the outside; the architects Chile Bresciani, H. Valdés, F. Castillo and CG Huidobro, authors of the Portales housing unit (Santiago, 1963), characterized by a neo-expressionist language and a great coherence with their program principles, composition and technology. We also remember the architect E. Duhart with the building of the Comisión Económica para América Latina (Santiago, 1966), equipped with an external perimeter structure and a free arrangement of the internal volumes. Finally, at this stage

In the seventies a period of pluralism and decadence of modern architecture began in Chile, a phenomenon that had been foretold for some time. The architecture of this period is in fact characterized by great heterogeneity, by scarce continuity between the different works and by the search for a more economic than artistic purpose. However, there are isolated cases of some architects who, despite having trained in the schools of the modern movement and having lived and understood the crisis, have made interesting new proposals. The architect F. Castillo, for example, in the context of community architecture creates works such as Quinta Michita (Santiago, 1974) and Casas entre medianeros (Santiago, 1977), in which he shows, in an organic, almost romantic language, a complex surrounded by greenery, with an organization of the individual houses to form a unitary space. It is therefore evident that in this period, alongside a decline, there is also a rethinking and research.

The decade leads to the years of great development of the construction industry in Chile (1980-81), which is a logical consequence of the moment just described and the contingent socio-economic conditions of the country. The fundamental characteristics of this period are the ostentation of quality materials and the profusion of foreign images, which has the logical consequence of pursuing a purely economic purpose. The brief moment of boom in building constructions has the importance of marking the end of the process of involution and decadence of modern architecture in Chile and of opening a period of research (1982-90), which, although emerging for some years consolidates in this moment of great complexity.

The main currents of these years are four: the first is a continuation of modern rationalist architecture, to which some architects, trained in that school, are still faithful with their works (despite being small in number, they are still today present in the country).

The second, the postmodern current, is based on a greater number of works and followers, who generally belong to the younger generation. This trend, which has invaded Chile, coming from Europe and above all from the USA, conceives postmodernism only as a series of uses of elements typical of the architecture of the past; these, instead of being coherently reinterpreted, operating a true abstraction, are only simplified and used in a banal way. All this is combined with the almost always restrictive conception of the use of brick as the only cladding material.

The third current, which derives in part from the previous one, is the so-called neo-colonialism. It is mainly present in the architecture of prestigious villas, built in the elegant suburbs of the various Chilean cities and in the service buildings of the new complexes. Neocolonialism is drawn from a distinctly Chilean architecture, since it makes use of a large number of architectural elements of the past, but using them excessively and without taking into account either the structural system and the meaning of these, or the new relationship with the modern materials and generating as a result an architecture that pursues an image of ” status ”, and, once again, a commercial purpose.

The fourth and last current tends to discover a national architecture through the analysis of its values ​​and their relationship with international ones and by researching in depth the true way of doing architecture in Chile.

This research is based on rigorous respect for the context both in the microscale and in the geographical and territorial dimension. It does not deny the modern movement but on the contrary it considers it alive, different, not forgetting its aporias and not even its merits, which it develops by directing them to conceive a Chilean architecture consistent with all technological innovations and adhering to a precise historical moment. To this current belong some interesting works of recent years, created by the architects M. Recodón and A. Sartori, such as the Casa en la ladera de los Andes, in Santa Maria di Manquehue (Santiago), and the Casa Glasinovic, in the same city, which fully respond to the premises of this trend.

In urban planning, the rules of the modern international rationalist movement were respected during the thirty years 1960-90, based on the ideas of Le Corbusier expressed, for example, in Plan Voisin (Paris, 1925). In the period 1970-90, these concepts began to be directed towards the constant search for a more human-scale urbanism, in a vernacular and organic form, without neglecting urban and territorial planning, but by strengthening in a special way the design of the medium and micro-scale.

Chile Architecture 1991