Corrugated City

Friday, 15 June 2007

Valpo's downtown architecture

Here are some photos i took the other day when i was down in El Plan. Some of the architecture in downtown Valpo is really beautiful. A lot of it is in a poor state and there are some hideous newer buildings looming over some of the best older ones. However, one of the few upsides of Valparaiso having been one of Chile's poorest cities for 70-80 years (and continuing to be so even though it's changing fast) is that it didn't receive much investment. Investment in Chile normally means knocking down anything that's vaguely old and building a skyscraper. So Valpo was saved from architectural ruin by financial ruin. Not good for the people but good for the city.



The Naval Club







If you're feeling lonely in Valpo, drop by the Cine Condell-guaranteed to raise your spirits. Or raise something or other. It's one of Valpo's 2 porno cinemas.



The Natural History Museum-there's a separate entrance on the left hand side which takes you down the original level of the house (now underground) from when the sea reached almost as far as Calle Esmeralda. It's a gallery now and well worth a visit, if only to see the construction methods of the time.



There's one of Valpo's Troles. Due to financial problems, the company is about to shut down and the city will lose one of its most important cultural attractions. This being Chile, no one really cares all that much. Unsurprisingly, the government doesn't give a flying fuck.









This is the Cafe Riquet, one of the city's oldest and most famous tea-houses/restaurants. It's been there for over 80 years. The waiter who served us the other day has spent 37 years of his life working there. The owner of the building sold the place and, allegedly, it's illegal for him to sell with the cafe in place (bollocks). So the cafe is going to shut down at any minute. Another part of Valpo's cultural heritage lost (the city was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status due, in large part, to its 'intangible cultural heritage'). This being Chile, no one really cares all that much. Unsurprisingly, the government doesn't give a flying fuck.



Art-deco made it to Valpo











The Turri Clock, El Mercurio (big conservative/fascist newspaper founded by the Edwards family) building, Latin America's first stock-exchange and a building that used to be a Banco Edwards










Not technically downtown, but this is my local bakery



Sometimes i really wonder whether Chileans deserve Valparaiso. The idea of cultural preservation is pretty much non-existent in Chile. The cry of "Abajo, abajo, botalo, botalo" is on the lips of most of the population and most probably taught in schools as the national slogan. As i mentioned before, Valpo was mostly saved from the wrecking ball by poverty. Luck over judgement. Here's a message to Chile, her people and her government:


BIG SHINY NEW DIY SKYSCRAPERS DO NOT NECESSARILY MEAN PROGRESS. DESTRUCTION OF CULTURALLY AND ARCHITECTURALLY IMPORTANT BUILDINGS SIMPLY SHOWS A MAJOR DEFICIENCY IN CULTURE. SHOW THE WORLD THAT CHILE IS MOVING FORWARD BY SHOWING SYMPATHY TO CHILE'S HISTORY AND HERITAGE.
(please)

1 comment:

Santiago FLORES said...

OOOH Matt! ye are so fecking right about that! I don't really think that Chileans deserve either. But, the fact of the matter is that it IS there. I could bet me head that if you show the photographic survey you're doing to the CA (Colegio de Arquitectos, Institute of Architects for the layman gringo) they will just scorn it and look elsewhere. If that could be expected from the top of the trade, there is nothing to do downwards. I am so bloody envious and ashamed of what you're doing with our city!!!! You should make a book out of it, aunque sea sólo para tener un registro.
Mis felicitaciones, Don Matt (you earned the "Don"),

Saludos,

Nollaig shona duit + küme we tripantu,

Santiago