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Buenos Aires | Puerto Madero

History and future of the youngest neighbourhood of Buenos Aires

Façade of the buildingsIt isn’t a suburb, but it could be, lying beyond the city limits. It is the city’s youngest neighbourhood, but its history is also linked with the fundamental activity of the city: the port. It links the most exclusive residential zone, home of the city’s most expensive hotels with one of the most popular recreational zones: la Costanera Sur (Southern Riverfront). To experience the contrasts of Puerto Madero it is well worth a visit on foot.

Many attempts were made to develop the area of Puerto Madero before the present one: from Le Corbusier, who in 1920 proposed the construction of a simple dock that would lead to the river and feature modern structures, to the massive investments envisioned by Cacciatore during the military dictatorship, to being the site for dumping the excavated earth caused by the construction of the urban highways.

Finally, in November of 1989 the Antique Puerto Madero Corporation was created, the last and, finally, successful attempt to develop the area. The funds given by the national and city government were equal, which resolved the conflict between the two entities that had always existed.

The national government donated the land, which consisted of 170 hectares between Av. Madero and the riverfront. The city proposed the urban design. In the beginning, they imposed a “Master Plan” based on the Barcelona model. Or, they tried to impose a top-down plan.  However, the opposition that this plan generated was so great that a public contest had to be opened. Three plans created by three separate architecture studios were awarded prizes, and theses studios decided to form a new studio, integrated with an architect from each winning firm.

SilosAfter all was said and done, the project was similar to theoriginal one.  The historic center was respected, which was basically the imaginary continuation of the Avenida de Mayo. The structures in this area could not be touched. They could be “refurbished” for new uses, but the exterior had to remain the same. The new Hotel Faena displays this idea, which even included a section of oddly constructed silos.

These silos belonged to the National Grain Council, which were originally constructed by the Molinos Dreyfuss cereal company, and they remained unused. This anthill like structure made the refurbishment even more difficult.


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