latinamericaesp1 Eco-Culture Specialist
INFLUENCES IN LATIN AMERICAN ARCHITECTURAL STYLES Presentation and Links
http://www.quia.com/pages/latinarchitecture.html
 
ARCHITECTURAL INFLUENCES IN LATIN AMERICA

INTRODUCTION

The rich heritage of Latin American architecture spans from the ancient pyramids of the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations to the influences of the ancient Greek, Roman and Middle Eastern cultures, imported through the European styles of the Iberian colonists.  This legacy reflects the way in which artistic styles and tastes of one culture migrate from continent to continent and how one culture borrows from another. 

For example, the Greek style influenced the Romans.  The Europeans rediscovered this style during the Renaissance, and the colonists in turn brought it to Latin America.

  Another example is the Islamic influence.  This style originated in the Middle East and ended up mixing with the Spanish styles when Spain was under Arab control.  This influence was in turn brought to Latin America by the colonists.  This presentation will explore a few of these connections, and the evolution and interpretation of the dominant architectural styles.
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PRE-COLOMBIAN PERIOD - INCA

Long  before colonization, the people of the Inca, Mayan and Aztec civilizations built great temples, palaces and pyramids.  


PHOTO:  MACHU PICCHU, PERU
The Incas fitted stones so closely together that a knife blade cannot be jammed between them.   The Spanish conquistodores so admired Inca stone work that they employed Inca stonecutters and techniques in colonial buildings.  

The essence of Inca architecture cannot be distilled into a single word.  Precision, functionality and austerity are the key words.  

There is  motto in modern architecture which says “Less Is More”, therefore encouraging restraint in  decoration.    Incan architects seemed to have already had this philosophy because they clearly esteemed functionality over decoration.  

PHOTO:  MIES VAN DER ROHE’S   FARNSWORTH HOUSE
 This philosophy of “Less is More” was coined by modern architect Mies van der Rohe, a Frenchman born in Switzerland, who designed “Farnsworth House” a catalyst for modern design.  In this photo you can see its clean lines and lack of ornamentation.  This modern style had quite an impact on Brazil as we will see later.
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MAYAN

PHOTO:  MAYAN TEMPLE

Mayan architecture is very similar to Inca.  Like the Aztecs, Mayans built pyramids as temples.  They were usually step pyramids, with stairways going up one or more of the sides to a terrace or temple at the top.  The Mayans were the scientific race in mesoamerica and often had observatories on top of their buidings.


(Show diagram:  MAYAN ARCHITECTURE http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/5891/mayan_architecture.htm)

The Mayans had a very elaborate architecture, but it did not start out that way.  They started with a simple temple and added on to it as their civilization prospered.  If you look at the squares at the bottom of the screen you will see illustrated the progression and decline of a Mayan temple.  In square 1,  they had a basic temple.  Squares 2, 3 and 4  represent additions to the temple as the people prospered.  Squares 5 and 6 show the temple diminishing as the civilization declined. And square 7 shows the structure in ruins after the decline of the Mayan civilization.  

Can you think of parallels of this concept in modern civilization, architecture, and even neighborhoods? The urban decay in many cities could be reflective of a decline in our own "civilization".
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COLONIAL PERIOD   16th through 19th c.

PHOTO:  PHOTO WITH NO LABEL (GENERIC COLONIAL)

During the Colonial Period Latin America was part of the Spanish and Portuguese (or Iberian) colonial empires.

 Major architectural projects had to be approved by the central governments in Europe before they could be constructed in the Americas.  Therefore, colonial art and architecture closely paralleled the styles of Spain and Portugal.

Indian artisans were trained to faithfully execute these European styles, but inevitably they added their own artistic influences which created a great variety of styles.  Adjustments to the styles also had to be made to accommodate for differences in topography, climate and earthquakes.
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EUROPEAN STYLES

To understand the styles and origins of Latin American architecture one must have exposure to the major styles of Europe which were imported by the colonists.  

The four major styles were GOTHIC, RENAISSANCE,  BAROQUE and MOORISH

PHOTO:  SPANISH GOTHIC    BURGOS CATHEDRAL

On the screen you will see a picture of a Spanish Gothic cathedral.  The colonists imported this style to the New World during its later period and gave it the name ISABELLINE, named after QUEEN ISABELLA.  

PHOTO:  NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL, PARIS, FRANCE

Here on the screen you will see a classic example of the Gothic style.  This is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.  Notre Dame  in French means “Our Lady”.  A good way to remember this style is to think of gargoyles, flying buttresses and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.
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PHOTO:  RENAISSANCE STYLE - MADRID SPAIN - PLAZA MAYOR

During the Renaissance period in Europe, the architects went back to Classical Roman and Greek ideals of harmony and proportion.  This style made it to the New World under another name which we will see later.

PHOTO - EUROPEAN RENAISSANCE - FRANCE

 The word RENAISSANCE is a French word meaning “rebirth”  (naissance = birth,  re = again).  This style is the “rebirth” of ancient Roman and Greek styles.


PHOTO:  ANCIENT ROMAN BUILDING - SOUTH OF FRANCE (NIMES)

Oh the screen you will see an example of  an ancient Roman building.  This is the kind of harmony and order the Renaissance architects were inspired to recreate.  The Roman style was not original, of course.  They borrowed heavily from the ancient Greeks. 


PHOTO:  EL ESCORIAL MONASTERY AND PALACE - MADRID, SPAIN

On the screen you will see a picture of El Escorial, a very important building in Madrid, Spain with is in the Renaissance style.  You can see the Roman influence in the archways and other elements. The architect Juan Bautista de Herrera completed this building which was begun by his teacher Juan Bautista de Toledo.  When the Renaissance style was imported to Latin America it was called HERREREAN
after the architect Juan Bautista de Herrera.
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PLATERESQUE (LATE SPANISH GOTHIC+ITALIAN RENAISSANCE)

PHOTO:  CASA DE MONTEJO (MEXICAN PLATERESQUE EXAMPLE)

The next major style to come from Europe was the Plateresque style,  The word Plateresque comes from the Spanish word for silversmith and describes the rich ornament of this style which was like a silversmith's intricate work. 

In this style influences of Gothic and Renaissance styles are intermingled.

We see on the screen the CASA DE MONTEJO which is said to be the finest example of the Plateresque style in the New World.


This style was characterized by clusters of jewelry-like ornament which was contrasted by broad expanses of flat wall surface.  In contrast with the Incan temples, structure received little emphasis while ornament received all the prominence.

SHOW SILVER TRAY

The ornament on the edge of this silver tray has much in common with the exhuberant decoration of the Plateresque style.


During the 16th century many of the Indian temples and palaces were destroyed.  Churches and residences for Europeans were often constructed from materials originally used for Indian temples and palaces.

One example is the is the CASA DE MONTEJO in Merida, Mexico (Yucatan).  This building was constructed from destroyed Mayan buildings specifically to celebrate Montejo’s victory over the Mayan people. 
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PHOTO:  #1  THE ALHAMBRA

MUDEJAR/MOORISH - ISLAMIC

Next we have the influence of the Islamic style which was brought to Spain by the Moors. 

The first Islamic building was the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.  This style spread throughout the Muslim countries of North Africa and was in turn brought to Spain during the Arab conquest and was mixed with the Spanish style.  The resulting style was called "Moorish" or "Mudejar".

The Alhambra is a wonderful example of this style. It is a fortified palace overlooking the southern Spanish city of Grenada.  Its name is derived from an arabic word meaning "red castle".  

PHOTO:  #2  THE ALHAMBRA

As highly skilled craftsmen, the Mudejars were responsible for an extremely successful blending of Arabic and Spanish artistic element

PHOTO #3  THE ALHAMBRA

The Mudejar style, marked by the frequent use of the horseshoe arch and the vault distinguishes church and palace architecture of Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, and Valencia.


PHOTO:  MUDEJAR STYLE - CASA DE PILATOS - SEVILLE, SPAIN

The Spanish term MUDEJAR is from an arabic word meaning "permitted to remain." 

This refered to any of the Muslims which remained in Spain after the Christian reconquest of the Iberian Penisula.

PHOTO:  MUDEJAR STYLE - PUEBLA, MEXICO

The Spanish architects brought this Moorish style, or MUDEJAR to the New World and it was mixed with other styles
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BAROQUE

Photo:  BAROQUE DRESS

The Baroque style also came to Latin America.

 Baroque was a period of dress  and music (Mozart, Bach)…..Think about the movie Amadaeus.

PHOTO:  SPANISH BAROQUE - MADRID "SAN ISIDRO" CATHEDRAL

On the screen you will seen an example of the Baroque stye in Spain.

PHOTO:  BAROQUE EXAMPLE - MEXICO  (BELL TOWER)

 In Latin America, baroque features were combined with the inventiveness of native artisans and reached a climax in the cathedrals of Mexico City.  It has been called Ultra-Baroque with its violent alternations  of curves and angles.

PHOTO:  BAROQUE EXAMPLE - MEXICO (CLOCK ON BUILDING)

And here you can see a more reserved version of Mexican Baroque.

PHOTO:  BAROQUE FACADE - QUITO, ECUADOR

Here we have a baroque "facade".  Facade is a French word meaning "face" or "front".  In architecture the term identifies the side of a structure normally the front, that is architecturally or visually more significant than the others.

Can you think of any facades here at Velma Jackson?  Have you ever noticed the entrance or the facade in the boardroom the the Economics center?

Here we see the facade of La Compana, a Jesuit Church which has spiral twisted columns called SALOMONICA which were developed from ancient Roman prototypes.

In the City of Quito, Ecuador there was a Baroque School of Quito which taught a style which combined Spanish, Italian, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.
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(CHURRIGUERESQUE)

PHOTO:  CHURRIGUERESQUE STYLE (MEXICO)

Next we have a style of baroque which is similar to the Rococo styles of France, Italy and Central Europe.  This style is named after a Spanish family of architects.


This style can be identified by the imaginative use of the ESTIPITE (a lavishly ornamented column which is more decorative than structural)  (style over substance)

 The most excessively elaborate examples of the Churrigueresque style are found in silvermining towns  in Mexico.     Also in  Potosi, Bolivia, where extravagance had become a way of life.

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PHOTO:  BRIGHT YELLOW MISSION


MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS

Although elaborate decoration and intricate ornamentation was often employed, there were also missions and monasteries being built which were simple and solid.  Many of the cathedrals were built for military reasons and thus were massive and plain.

In Southern Peru and Bolivia native influences pervaded over the European styles.  

Peruvian architects preferred heavier and more massive forms.

 Guatemalan structures were lower and of heavier proportions as a protection against EARTHQUAKES.

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FRENCH INFLUENCES

PHOTO:  FRENCH INFLUENCE IN ARGENTINA

In the era of Independence………the regional flavor of colonial art was supplanted by imitations of styles developed in France.  Many artists and architects went to  Paris to study and many Latin American national art academies were modeled on the French prototypes.   The elite post-revolutionaries sent French architects to “liberate the new republic from Spanish heritage” in architecture.  PROSPER CATELIN introduced the French style to Buenos Aires.  The building in this photograph ressembles many buildings in Paris, except for the palm trees.


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MODERN ARCHITECTURE -

PHOTO:  LE CORBUSIER  - NOTRE DAME DU HAUT

Modern Latin American architecture has been influenced primarily by the International Style of French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier. 

here is an example of one of Le Corbusier's experimental designs in France.  European concepts were altered because of Latin America's tropical climate and indigenous tastes.
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MODERN ARCHITECTURE:  BRAZIL

PHOTO:  CATEDRAL METROPOLITANA, BRASILIA

In Modern architecture Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer Soares Filho designed richly sculptural buildings which quickly gained international recognition for their innovative brilliance and dramatic appearance.

One example of his work is the famous Catedral Metropolitana in Brasilia on the screen.

Designed in the 60's, it is a mostly underground cathedral with a stained glass interior. 

Standing near the entrance are four large statues known as "The Four Evangelists".

There is a movement in modern architecture in South America for there to be a new architecture which reflects the independent cultural identity of the country without historical reference to the colonial period.  This building is one which reflects this break with the past.

Since pre-Colombian times Latin Americans have been concerned with creating an environmental art, through the integration of architecture, sculpture, painting and the decorative arts, that would achieve an overwhelming multimedia effect.  This tendency has been espeically evident since the 1950's.  The new Brazililan capital of Brasilia is a prime symbol of the energetic designs and enthusiastic spirit of modern Latin American art and architecture.
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From Mayan to Mexican Baroque to Modern, I have just shown you a small sampling of the vast richness of artistic expression found in architecture in Latin America and how styles, like language and culture migrate from continent to continent and mix and evolve. 

As an extension to the presentation, you will be given an opportunity to further explore this subject through an extended study project. 

To assist you I have created a web page with questions and helpful links, although you will have to do some internet searching on your own.  I will give your teacher the web address.  
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Useful links
Last updated  2008/09/28 09:05:02 PDTHits  232