Spaceship architecture: Freddy Mamani Silvestre in El Alto, Bolivia 07.05.15

Self-taught architect Silvestre has filled the city of El Alto in Bolivia with his distinctive, curvaceous and colourful architecture. He has completed over 60 buildings in this fanciful "Neo-Andean" style, each incorporating a double-height "salón de eventos", or party hall. The kitsch trend, known as "spaceship architecture", is now spreading to other cities across Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.

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Alfredo Zeballos

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Mamani's unusual use of geometric forms and colours is intended to provide El Alto with its own design language and identity. Both exteriors and interiors boast flamboyant decoration loosely inspired by local tradition

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El Alto is a largely self-built city of one million inhabitants. With an average altitude of 4,000m, it is also one of the highest cities in the world. In the foreground is Mamani's Salón Estrella (2012)

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Salón El Rey Alexander (2013). These rooms are let almost every weekend, providing a rapid return on investment

Images taken from La arquitectura de Freddy Mamani Silvestre by Elisabetta Andreoli and Ligia D'Andrea, as exhibited at the Architectural Association earlier this year. This article first appeared in Icon 142: Colour under the headline "Spaceship architecture". Buy back issues or subscribe to the magazine for more like this


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