Victoria Ocampo House Rufino de Elizalde 2831
Buenos Aires 1425
Alejandro Bustillo 1929
The earliest inklings of
Modernism in Argentina coincided with an illustrious visit. In 1929, the
Sociedad Amigos del Arte (Friends of the Arts Society) invited the famed
Le Corbusier to Buenos Aires, to give nine lectures. In anticipation of Le
Corbusier's arrival, writer and socialite Victoria Ocampo, founder of the
cultural journal SUR, sought to commission the first house in Buenos Aires
employing Modernism's aesthetics.
Eager to impress and become an
arbiter of taste, Ocampo first asked Le Corbusier to present a preliminary
design for a house in the affluent Palermo Chico neighborhood, requesting
the same for a nearby plot from local academic architect Alejandro
Bustillo. Corbusier quickly made adaptations of his recent and unrealized
project for the Villa Meyer and sent it to Madame Ocampo for approval, but
it was the Argentine architect Bustillo who received the commission.
According to Ernesto Katzenstein in his article Argentine Architecture
in the thirties, published in DAPA, Journal of Decorative Arts in
1992, Madame Ocampo "needed an experienced professional more than a
difficult artist or polemic youth to carry out her ideals."
The resulting Ocampo House shows
a great tension between the modern ideals the client sought to express and
the hesitancy of the architect. The massing of the house and the symmetry
and floor plan are rooted in the Beaux Arts with an overlay of Modernism
as a style more than as an embodiment of its principles, with unadorned
surfaces and clean lines. Like almost all architecture built in the city
of Buenos Aires, the house is constructed of brick and covered with
stucco. Despite the complexities of architect, patron and style, the
Ocampo House is considered the first building in Argentina built in the
spirit of Modernism.
The site, with a partial
renovation on ground level, is now the home of El Fondo Nacional de las
Artes (National Endowment for the Arts). The ground floor has been
renovated and now houses gallery space. The upper floors are empty.
Serianne Worden 2004
How to visit
The house is located on a small
park in the affluent Palermo Chico neighborhood near the center of Buenos
Aires. The house is one block from the main thoroughfare of Avenida
Libertador at the cross streets of Rufino de Elizade and A.M. de Aguado. The
neighborhood is easily accessible via numerous buses or by taxi.
The building is temporarily not
open to the public, but appointments to visit can be made by calling El
Fondo Nacional de las Artes on
+ 54 11 4343-1590 - or visit www.fnartes.gov.ar
for updated information.
The house can easily be seen from
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