24 August, 2011

Landscapes and lost ways

Our ancestors always took care to ensure their houses were in harmony with the landscape in which they were located.  This way, the buildings not only mimicked the environment but felt part of it, without attacking its beauty or altering the equilibrium with their presence.
With the colony, many buildings were constructed on the old sites and others imposed their foreign styles, but even then the indigenous builders took care to incorporate their own influence.
So, the basic characteristic which remained in the mountain towns was the adobe houses with tiled roofs.
Many provincial capitals exhibit - until today - their old mansions with balconies and traditional facades.  But in recent years, benefitting the badly named “noble material”, the deterioration of what is decent material has been spreading: enormous monstrosities are rising, offending the view.
It is as if an unlimited anxiety were pushing to move closer to the ideal image of the western world, expressed not just in clothing fashion, but in the entire appearance of a city; as if an irrepressible cheapness is striving to impose itself over nature.
The Spanish writer Pío Baroja was right when he said, “Constructed cement is an honest and useful muse, and perhaps in the hands of a brilliant architect it would be admirable; but when it goes astray and feels bold, like a cook launching into singing couplets, it makes such horrors that it should be restrained and taken to prison”.
  

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