Historic Architecture of a Bustling South American City

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Architecture south america neoclassical

Many people who have not traveled to South America do not know what to expect when they arrive in Buenos Aires. The massive city has an immensely European feel and an incredible energy. Many say it is the New York or Paris of South America. It is a stunning city, made only more so by the beautifully maintained historic architecture and interior home decor. A great number of buildings have been preserved, restored and repurposed which adds to the charm of Buenos Aires and gives us glimpse back in time to the origins of this metropolitan city. There are so many great design styles that make up the city's diverse style. Play close attention to the indoor wall lights and other lighting fixtures as a clue to the design style of the various historical buildings in the city.

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The most formative years of construction in Buenos Aires were between the 1880s and 1920s, when many immigrants were coming to live in this newly established, wealthy and rapidly growing city. Three dominant architectural styles emerged during this time: Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Art Deco. Each style is clearly depicted throughout the construction, iron work and detailing of the buildings. These architectural styles reflect the utopian ambitions of the designers as well as their immigrant heritage. They now serve as a marker of the thriving, cultural melting pot that was and still is Buenos Aires.

Neoclassical architecture is very hard to miss as you wander the streets of Buenos Aires. With strong Italian and French influences, neoclassical construction is very dominant throughout the city. Classical Greek architectural markers are strewn across these buildings: think columns, goddesses and classical ornamental detailing such as laurels, wreaths and cartouches. From large-scale government buildings to neighborhood homes, you can still see many well maintained examples of this impressive architectural style.

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1. Imperial Iris Bookends  2. Mary McDonald Josephine Brass Crystal Black Shade Table Lamp  3. Murray Feiss Bellini Collection Wall Sconce  4. Carving with Gold Paint Four Panel Screen Room Divider

Art Nouveau was prominent in all major cities at the turn of the century, including Buenos Aires. Curving, asymmetrical lines, feminine figures and nature inspired motifs dominated this style, a rejection of the rigidity of the neoclassical aesthetic. There are some beautiful examples of art nouveau construction across the city. From designs imprinted into the facade of a building to the intricate ironwork, this immensely detailed architectural style remains beautifully displayed throughout Buenos Aires.

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1. Metal 3-Bud Vase Holder  2. Flower Flute Double Necked Accent Lamp  3. Metropolitan Amber Murano Glass Wall Sconce  4. Momeni Nouveau Area Rug

Art Deco was an extremely popular architectural style in Buenos Aires, as its world debut in France correlated with the construction boom in Buenos Aires. All the aesthetic signifiers of the art deco period are beautifully preserved in the architecture in Buenos Aires such as intricate geometric shapes, hard running lines and influences from archeological discoveries of Ancient Egyptian style and design. Can you believe that you can even see examples of Art Deco styling in ceiling fans with lights (see below).

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1. Bronze Finish Fan Fire Screen  2. Period Arts Paris Bronze Ceiling Fan with Light Kit  3. Kathy Ireland Espresso Deco Trophy Floor Lamp  4. Set of Two Art Deco Lady Candleholders

All Images: Allison Rosenberg

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  • I want to go to Argentina!!! Great pictures!! I've always loved the Art Deco look...I'm so glad I know what it is now!

Historic Architecture of a Bustling South American City