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Building a new identity through architecture: The case of Colombia and government buildings constructed during the term of the Liberal Republic (1930-1946) and the case for their preservation

Zamora, Daniella

1930 to 1946 marks a pivotal moment in the history of Colombia, not only as a period of changing political ideologies that defined how the country modernized, but also as a transitional period in the discipline of Colombian architecture. The Liberal Republic which began with the election of Enrique Olaya Herrera in 1930, was characterized by greater transparency in governance and the extension of governmental services to communities that had formally been underserved. In tandem with this change was a building program that would see many new buildings constructed as outposts of the national government and its services. This building program was executed through a centralized office of construction and design. The architects of these buildings adopted a new formal, stylistic and tectonic paradigm which saw them moving away from classical and neocolonial styles of the past toward architectural forms consistent with the emerging Modern Movement.

These two shifts - the one political and governmental, the other architectural - occur in parallel with one another. While it is difficult to draw direct lines of influence between the politicians who operated in the halls of government and the architects called upon to design the structures which housed the institutional programs devised under the liberal government, these trends track along similar lines. Each emphasizes greater exercise of transparent and rational approaches to their respective practices. Importantly, for Colombian architecture, the governmental building program of this period forms the foundation for a new prevailing direction in the design of governmental and national institutional programs. The architecture that was designed in this period (1930-1946) by the MOP was heavily influenced by European architects who had migrated to Colombia after the first World War. These architects brought with them European composition and stylistic strategies that they introduced in the buildings they designed. While they did not represent the Modern Movement as a design idiom or that of the International Style, the buildings studied in this thesis represent an expression of modernity within the Colombian context. Through the National Buildings of Cúcuta, Túquerres, and Barranquilla, we can witness the foundations of what was to become Colombian Modern Architecture in the following decades.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Bentel, Paul L.
Degree
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2019
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