May 28 2013

The Preservation of the Mariani-Teruggi House: La Plata, Argentina

The destruction of this house located on 30th Street between 55th and 56th in the city of La Plata, Argentina is a testimony of the history of the country.

The destruction of the Mariani-Teruggi House involved personnel from the armed forces and police, using weapons of various calibers, shows us a clear example of the indiscriminate type of violence exercised by the Argentine state during the last military dictatorship. Various circumstances preserved the evidence of the violence inflicted to this house, with almost all the physical traces of the attack on November 24, 1976 still there, together with the  physical effects of the successive avatars endured by the house for more than thirty years.

Original state of the Mariani Teruggi House

In order to preserve the house as a “document of history” and as a site for rescuing the memory of this violent past, the need to recover the actual materials used in the original physical structure was essential. Through a series of complex technical operations, the house’s preservation was completed. And despite the small scale of the work, these operations were extremely complex due to the circumstances detailed below.

The Mariani-Teruggi is an austere house that was built around 1945 on urban lands, with a typology responding to a hybrid common in Argentine architecture, referred to as “Casa Chorizo.”

Evidence of armed violence-Mariani Teruggi House

Since the 1976 attack, the house has had more than thirty years of vicissitudes, looting and destruction. And so, a serious proposal which aimed to halt the deterioration of the house was put into action. This proposal was oriented to the consolidation of structural risk elements and the implementation of a series of actions that would restore the integrity of the exteriors and interiors of the house. This set the premise that there shouldn’t be alterations to the original structure, nor to its spatial configuration, but that there should be some preservation of the 1976 attack and the addition of a memorial.

The work specified then falls into two categories:

  • Work in action involving restoration, consolidation, conservation and reintegration (by the process of anastylosis);

  • New intervention (where a new memorial building is added to the former structure).

Restorative actions involved the reparation of those elements that have degraded over time, specifically walls and facades. Consolidation concerns the retrofitting of the former structural design and composing the whole of the house once again.

And finally we have reintegration. Reintegration involves rebuilding house components lost to vandalism and removing the ones coming from improper transformations (all this within the limits of the historical documents and materials remaining from times before the house’s destruction).

New Building Memorial-Museum

Historic preservation always includes politics, memory, regret, and opportunity. And we ought to consider it as one of the subjects affecting the built environment.

Do you think that built heritage interventions should always be considered as buildings for memory? In places that suffered violence in the past, can you separate the consequences and meaning of that violence from the building itself?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Luis Lozano-Paredes

Luis Lozano-Paredes is currently a student seeking a Diploma of Architecture and Urban Planning at Belgrano University in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Born in Colombia in 1987, he grew between the cities of Bogotá and Santiago de Cali, and then moved to Argentina in 2006. There, he finished the Common Basic Cycle of Architecture, Design, and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires before pursuing studies in Landscape Design at the same Institution. Inspired by the Urban Transformation of Bogotá in the past decades, his interests evolved from Landscape Architecture to his current passion; Urban Planning, Policy Making, and Sustainable Development. He plans to continue his studies in Urban Planning and Sustainability in Canada, Chile, or the U.S.; but for the moment he currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center of Metropolitan Transport Studies of the University of Buenos Aires and is a Member of the Observatory of Urban Sustainability at Belgrano University. Luis’ main interests lay within the study of Smart Cities, Urban Sustainable Development, and Social Architecture in Latin America.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 at 9:37 am and is filed under Architecture, Government/Politics, History/Preservation, Luis Lozano-Paredes, Social/Demographics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “The Preservation of the Mariani-Teruggi House: La Plata, Argentina”

  1. Todd Larson Says:

    Yes, buildings for memory like the one above should be preserved in their destroyed state by built heritage interventions, such as that which preserved the skeletal remains of the domed building in Hiroshima as a memorial to the dropping of the A-bomb, those who perished in it, and the mass destruction it left behind. I think the consequences and meaning of the violence are inseparable from the building, because of how the violence left a permanent mark on it and how the building has come to stand as a symbol of that destruction.

  2. aaron Says:

    Thanks for the ad :)

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