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2011 Valparaiso Acculturation (1950-2001) Contemporary Architects

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Instructors: Victoria McReynolds // Chris Taylor

2011 Valparaiso Studio Abroad

(1950-2001) Arquitectos Contemporáneos Chilenos

architecture in vernacular landscape


History of Chilean Architecture up to the 18th century

●Chilean self-conscious architectural culture goes back in the late eighteen century.

●Not until the mid –19th century was a new architectural manner along with a new aesthetic sensitivity, introduced into the country. The change was brought by the French architect Claude Francois Brunet de Baines.

● A professional architectural course was therefore established and briefly directed by Brunet himself until his death. His fellow countryman, Lucien Henault, was subsequently appointed to continue Brunet’s architectural and educational tasks. They brought to Chile a more Beaux Arts architectural language which had to be adapted to local circumstances.

● With the indispensable support of foreign-born architects in Chile, formal courses on architecture were established both at the Universidad Catolica and the Universidad de Chile during the 1890s.

● Professional courses in architecture appeared first in Chile than in any other Latin American Country

● Later those courses were consolidated to become schools and faculties.

What do we know about Chile?

There is one thing we all know for certain about Chile” that the poet Pablo Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 and became a national hero in his own country. The Nobel Prize Committee praised his poetry as a “celebration of the dramatic varieties in the Chilean landscape”. Chile is a very long and narrow country. A professor of English at the University of Santiago named Galvez asked the rhetorical question: “How could a people living between such an ocean and such mountains exist without poetry?” Rodrigo Perez de Arce situates Chilean modern architecture between assured firmness and an acute precariousness. In a land of earthquakes and extreme climatic variations- architecture must find both poetic and practical inspiration to counter such adversity. The architecture is described as “tempered by low budgets, the absence of extravagant technical means and the threat of technical means”.

Poetry is a way of taking possession of our circumstances, and in talking about the contemporary architecture of Chile and its theoretical underpinnings, one soon encounters the Amereida. In the spirit of the Amereida the Valparaiso School founded the inventive and exploratory “Open City” on the coats at the Ritoque, creating a fascinating laboratory for experiments in autopoetic construction. Buildings themselves become the landscape, or at least part of it. One is reminded of Svere Fehn’s analogy to the architectural project inevitably cutting into the site. Architecture in a vernacular landscape

Philosophy of the “Open City”

●Buildings as inhabited poetry. This is the dream of Ritoque’s world-renowned school of architecture, half way up Chile, where students learn from the realm of gesture and experience, not computer modeling.

●Unique architecture school…the open city in Ritoque is a utopian venture which has been growing since its opening in 1970, as an offshoot of a small group griup of visionary architects who were faculty at the University of Valparaiso.

●This is the most experimental of schools

●Its origins lie way back in the fifties in a star-crossed meeting between architecture and strangely poetry, in the guise of Chilean architect Alberto Cruz Covarrubia’s encounter and subsequent intense dialogue with Argentian poet, Godfredo Iommi. Iommi has travelled in Europe. Together theyprepared the notion of an architectural experience experience focused on the poetic word.

●Today the school goes from strength to strength. Each year 120 students are enrolled. Common to all projects is poetic enactment, whether physical or intangible.

●In the main book about the Open City, The Road That is Not a Road, the title points to how Ritoque itself is a Travesa, the school is embarked on a journey into its unknown Inner sea, enlightment beckons down the road. For the student too, the search is of uncovering hidden riches – insight, in a word – in the lands of the self, even if the outer journey is the learning curve of becoming architects. This is the realm of myth, bespeaker to the oracular poetic voice.

●Poetic vision may not be useful in a utilitarian culture, and in this part of the world anything like Ritoque is all about absent from higher education’s horizons, let alone those of architecture. Knowledge of Ritoque’s enduring life, however, encourages a path where the enactment of The poetic can bring vision to architecture, and potentially a transvaluation of what comprises our built environment rules.

Other schools of architecture

-University of Valparaiso - Valparaiso, Chile

-Universidad de Chile Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Santiago, Chile – Santiago, Chile

-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Estudios Urbanos, – Santiago, Chile

-Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso, e[ad] Escuela de Arquitectura y Diseño, – Valparaiso, Chile

-Andres Bellos - Santiago, Vina del Mar and Concepion


●Amereida – a long collective poem of origins whose name comes from the hypothetical joining of “America” and “Eneida” (Virgil’s Aeneid). It is a reflection on a north-south journey from Chilean Patagonia to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia

●Phalene – word given to the poetic acts

●Travesia – journey undertaken by professors and students, architects, poets through the lands and waters of America, a voyage of initiation, a task forming part of the curriculum of the academic year through the performance of the poetic arts


1. "Chilean Modern Architecture since 1950", Perez Oyarzun / Perez De Arce, Texas A&M University Press, 2010. 2. "Valparaiso School - Open City Group", Perez Oyarzun / Perez de Arce, McGill- Queen's University Press, Montreal and KIngston, 2003.

3. "Mario Perez de Arce Lavin La permanencia de la Arquitectura Moderna en Chile", Leon Rodriguez Valdes, Publicado por Ediciones ARQ, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad catolica de Chile", 1996.

4."Arquitectura reciente en Chile", Ediciones ARQ, 2000.

5. "Guillermo Jullian Obra Abierta",Rodrigo Perez de Arce A, Ediciones ARQ. 2000.

6. "Enrique Browne - Architect - 1974-1994 Works", Ediciones ARQ, 1995.



2011 Valparaiso Acculturation Project 2 - Research

2011 Valparaiso Acculturation Seminar

2011 Valparaiso Studio