buenos aires: domes

Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas

Back to Buenos Aires! Well, not literally… I’m still in Spain & don’t plan on returning to Argentina any time soon. But I just realized that I’ve failed to compile & place here one very popular series of posts from the past. From 2007 to be exact. In the day when my only internet presence was line of sight, I wrote one of the most widely read English-language blogs about Buenos Aires. At the same time as I researched early housing projects in the city, I also began looking up & paying attention. I began seeing more domes than I’d ever noticed before, regardless of where my rambling walks took me.

Endless Mile, Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas

The quest for domes turned into an obsession. As these things do. After photographing & posting hundreds of pics on the blog, I decided to select what I considered the best or most unique domes in Buenos Aires & make a map. Nothing complicated, & my nascent design knowledge wouldn’t allow for anything fancy either. In reality, the entire dome search was a way of avoiding other, more important projects & life decisions at the time. 2007 had its complications! But in the end, making this map started me on the path toward writing Endless Mile guides… so I consider this time well spent after all. Below are images of the free version of the first map on line of sight + a 2011 incomplete attempt at redesign:

Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas, 2007 map, Urban Explorer
Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas, 2007 map, Urban Explorer
Buenos Aires, domes, cúpulas, 2011 map, Endless Mile

In the end, the original map transformed into a mini PDF guide for Endless Mile. I still give it away for free, mainly as an example of content & structure for all Endless Mile publications. I could add photos of each dome —like in the Lisbon Azulejos guide— but time for that is a luxury I don’t have these days. Every visitor should explore one of the most interesting characteristics of Buenos Aires architecture… consider it a scavenger hunt while they’re still around! As I say in the guide:

At the end of the 20th century, economic concerns & political conflicts far outweighed those of architectural conservation & Buenos Aires fell into disrepair. Domes are, by their nature, fragile constructions. When funds disappeared, domes collapsed—never to be recovered.

In spite of a current economic upswing, local government still turns a cold shoulder to the city’s preservation. A recent law prohibits the demolition of any building constructed prior to 1941, but remember this is Latin America. Corruption & clandestine demolition are rampant. Citizen watch groups keep a vigilant eye on the city, but even they can miss signs of destruction or decay. Unfortunately, dozens of spectacular domes do not appear in our list because they no longer decorate the skyline. The only record of their existence is a collection of photographs & postcards taken by flâneurs of an earlier era.

With this listing, Endless Mile seeks to call attention to one of the defining characteristics of Buenos Aires… in the hope that more people will preserve what makes this city so unique.

Might have to alter that bit about “current economic upswing” given circumstances in 2019… we’ll see how things pan out after elections in October.

y las que ya no están…

Thanks to the rise of social media since my original posts, both individuals as well as government organizations can easily share past & present photos of Buenos Aires. Although I’ve left BA behind, whenever I see a picture of a dome that’s no longer standing I get a little nostalgic & miss those long walks around the city. Most of the images below come from the Twitter account of the Archivo General de la Nación. Can you imagine if these were still around?

Diario El Mundo, Río de Janeiro & Bogotá
Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos, Entre Ríos & Adolfo Alsina – Dome still there but minus all the fancy decoration
Notably missing are the set of 3 domes on the left
Gran Hotel, Florida & Rivadavia, c. 1910
From Oregon State University. Not sure of the angle or recognize any dome here.
Hotel Victoria, Lavalle & Cerrito, c. 1930
Plaza Italia, c. 1910
Tienda “A La Ciudad de Londres”, c. 1905. Burned down in 1910 & replaced with a less decorative building.

I’ll continue to add photos here as I find them online… & please post your own contributions in the comments section below!

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