Open House arrives: the emblematic buildings of Buenos Aires open their doors for only two days

the weekend of October 1 and 2 the doors of 160 spaces and buildings in the city of Buenos Aires They will be opened so that those curious about architecture and urban planning can visit them.

The event will take place within the tenth edition of Open House Buenos Airesan annual event that proposes, with free and open access, a series of guided itineraries to rediscover the city of Buenos Aires.

The event coincides with the realization of the 18th International Biennial of Architecture of Buenos Aires and proposes to reflect on the future heritage of the city.

To participate, all you have to do is go to the website and see the list of available buildings, as well as the day and time that the visit will be carried out by a group of volunteers who love the urban planning, architects, even in some cases the owners of the property in question will be the ones in charge of showing it. Only certain buildings require prior registration.

Open House volunteers at work.Santiago Chiban

The grounds, many of which are not available for tours during the year, include very old constructions, but also contemporary developments.

The proposal incorporates some neighborhoods whose urban context is of particular relevance. In addition to the visits, complementary activities will be carried out by bicycle –Open whip –, several walks and a photographic contest baptized as Open Photo.

Open House is an international event that takes place in many cities around the world: London, Oslo, Milan, Zurich, Dublin, Lisbon, Tel Aviv, among others, have their own annual event. In our country it is limited to the city of Buenos Aires and Rosario, where a similar event was organized in the first days of September.

From the extensive list of 160 locations, PLACES chose four. These and many others can be visited in a few days. A good spring plan.

The beautiful dome of the Güemes Gallery.
The beautiful dome of the Güemes Gallery.Paul Corral

there he sang Carlos Gardel. Another famous of the time, Antoine de Saint-Exupéryauthor of The little Princespent long hours in one of the apartments on the 6th floor, when he came and went as a pilot of the Aeropostal. They say that in the bathtub she had a seal pup that she brought from the south as a pet, which kept her company while she wrote Night flight.

Julio Cortazar was fascinated with this building, in his story the other sky imagined the Güemes Gallery together with the Parisian Viviennecreating a sort of imaginary geography where his characters move.

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If we look with contemporary eyes, we could say that it was an advanced idea, a sort of shopping mall, back in the early years of the 20th century. The truth is that the Guemes Gallery it imitated a European model on the rise since the end of the 18th century: a space where, in addition to shopping, social events took place.

Designed by the Italian architect Francisco Gianotti (the same one that designed the confectionery The mill), the complex exhibits in its realization a kind of modernist eclecticism: finished sample of Art Nouveau local.

This 116 meter gallery that it joins Florida and San Martín streets as a building-passage, it was also one of the first skyscrapers in Buenos Aires with its 87 meters high.

In the basement there was a theater and an event room, it had a cabaret, commercial premises and offices up to the 5th floor. On the higher levels were the apartments that were rented furnished.

A view of the building that integrates the Güemes Gallery, at the time it was the tallest in Buenos Aires.
A view of the building that integrates the Güemes Gallery, at the time it was the tallest in Buenos Aires.Paul Corral

On the 14th floor there was a confectionery with beautiful views of the city and four levels above the looker. The site was for several years the highest point in the city of Buenos Aires; From there, a clear 360-degree view was obtained that is unthinkable today.

Equipped with the latest technology of the moment, it had elevators capable of traveling 140 meters in 60 seconds and it had a fire-fighting system that pumped up to 24,000 liters per hour, activated through electrical alarms. It also had cooling, heating and forced ventilation.

In the passage-gallery 14 meters from the height, a beautiful glazed dome, which is located right in the center, so that the barrel vault that runs between both streets is divided into two sections. The combination of natural and artificial light from the vault and the exquisite details of the bronzework made it a unique place. It opened its doors in 1917.

The incredible interiors of the General Auditor of the Nation.
The incredible interiors of the General Auditor of the Nation.Paul Corral

It was originally the Palacio Biola Venetian-style building built between 1924 and 1927 to house the Argentine Biological Institute. It is the work of the Italian architect Atilius Locatti.

Located in Rivadavia 1745in the surroundings of the Plaza del Congreso, is one of the emblematic constructions of the area.

The passage of time brought him multiple and varied destinations. In 1948 it was expropriated by the PJ government to install the National Social Welfare Institute there. They say that Eva Perón set up her office in one of the rooms. Later it housed the offices of the DGI, then AFIP, and even the ANSES landed with their desks.

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Finally, through a restoration process, it became one of the headquarters of the General Auditor of the Nation (AGN), renamed President Raúl Ricardo Alfonsín Building.

This mansion style neo venetian It was designed for a mixed use: from the basement to the second level, it was used for the scientific activity of the institute. Meanwhile, the remaining seven floors were built for rental apartments.

One of the highlights of the palace is at the top of the façade. Is about a monumental clock designed by the house Miroglio brothers, de Turín. The clock is part of a sculptural group composed of two large bronze and cast iron figures about 3.50 meters high in an attitude of striking a large bell. The whole set is a true beauty that forces you to look up.

A historical postcard of the Palacio Biol where the AGN operates today.
A historical postcard of the Palacio Biol where the AGN operates today.

The building is said to be inspired by the Moorish Clock –Torre dell’Orologio or Torre dei Mor–, 1496, located around St. Mark’s Square, Venice. Legend has it that it was a Venetian friend of the architect Locatti who suggested replicating that construction in downtown Buenos Aires and it seems that the man listened to him.

During the enhancement works, the stairs covered in Botticino marble, several murals, pilasters, ceilings with gilt leaf details, bronze carvings of cherubs, lampposts, oil paintings and the original wooden floors were recovered.

Among the recovered works of art, the ceiling of the entrance, by the muralist Nazareno Orlandi, and The Tree of Life, by Salvino Tofanari, painted on the first floor balcony.

The facade of the building of the newspaper La Prensa, today.
The facade of the building of the newspaper La Prensa, today. Santiago Chiban

Located in Avenida de Mayo at 500 was entirely designed in Paris and adapted for construction in the center of the city of Buenos Aires by the engineers Carlos Agote y Alberto Gainzaboth graduated from The School of Fine Arts from Paris. It is a typical example of French-oriented academic architecture. It was built between 1892 and 1896 as the headquarters of one of the most important newspapers of the time, the press.

It is currently the headquarters of the Secretary of Culture of the Government of the city, even the basements, where the workshops once worked to print the newspaper, are now exhibition halls.

On the front of the building stands out the monumental lamppost with a sculpture of a female figure, the work of the sculptor Maurice Bouval, which measures a whopping five meters high, weighs four tons and represents the goddess Minerva. In the heyday of the newspaper she was in charge of notifying, through a siren, the key news of the moment. It was heard for the first time on July 29, 1900 when the death of King Umberto I of Italy was known.

The magnificent sculpture of Minerva, the work of Maurice Bouval.
The magnificent sculpture of Minerva, the work of Maurice Bouval.Paul Corral

The path of the newspaper had great call; blackboards were placed there with the latest news and it was common to see how passers-by stopped to read the news. At some point, a series of loudspeakers were also installed for the same purpose, especially to broadcast relevant football matches.

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The opulence of the golden room and the director’s office tell the story of an Argentina rich in resources that did not envy European constructions.

On many walls of the palace you can see large mural paintings and decorative details typical of the garnier style.

One of the domes of La Inmobiliaria.
One of the domes of La Inmobiliaria.Ignacio Queralto

The gigantic building that occupies the entire south block on Avenida de Mayo at 1400 It was inaugurated in the middle of the centenary celebrations, precisely on May 25, 1910.

It was built by and for the company Realestatehence its name, the first Argentine capital general insurance company chaired by Antonio Devotothe same one who founded the Buenos Aires neighborhood that today bears his name.

The Italian neo-Renaissance court building was conceived by the Italian architect Luigi Broggi and his works took two years. In the silhouette, two beautiful domes stand out that finish off the ochavas whose ceilings are red today, originally they were covered by a dark gray slate coating.

With the passage of time, the building lost the ornamentation of the façade, the mouldings, the ciboriums and the cresting of the roof. However, the pairs of statues of Venus y Apollo that decorate the ochavas and the eight niches of the central body. On the front there are loggias that are galleries supported by pedestal columns and semicircular arches, typical of Italian architecture. The sgraffiti that decorated the walls are barely preserved, very deteriorated. In the middle of the block you can still see the sign made with golden polychrome mosaic of La Inmobiliariaa memory of those early days.

Avenida de Mayo at 1400 and the imposing silhouette of La Inmobiliaria.
Avenida de Mayo at 1400 and the imposing silhouette of La Inmobiliaria. Ignacio Queraltó

The insurance company occupied the first floor, while the ground floor was bought by Guillermo Heinleinwho installed a bathroom fixture store there that bore his name and which ended up naming the building. Heinlein was the first to import siphon toilets, an ultramodern object at that time. In another location, the famous Berna brewery was installed, a meeting place for famous personalities.

In addition to the commercial premises on the first level, 51 apartments were designed on the upper floors and 8 more premises.

The building is structured with four entrances on Avenida de Mayo, each one leading to a small hall with a cage elevator and a staircase. In this way, the set works with independent and contiguous bodies.