Architecture without architects? Campanópolis, the small medieval village born from recycling in Buenos Aires
Nowadays, the role of architects goes beyond the limits of construction, reaching areas that are often unthinkable, but which nevertheless show a close relationship with the profession. If we go back in time, the fact is that many buildings, houses, monuments and even cities were built intuitively without urban planning or famous architects. Undoubtedly, today’s architects face a great challenge that goes beyond demonstrating our skills and knowledge and extends to other areas that concern us, but we do not know. always not. So we wonder what will be the profile of the architect of tomorrow?
The medieval village called Campanópolis is located about 30 km from the city of Buenos Aires, in González Catán, Matanza. It is presented as an example of architecture without architects and without inhabited buildings since, in fact, its constructions seem to have a more sculptural character, but with an architectural form. It is the first city with a medieval spirit in Latin America, constituting a historical, ecological, cultural and thematic park.
Antonio Campana, a supermarket businessman and canned food producer, in 1977 bought the 200 hectares of this rural area made up of plains, jungle-like forests, rivers, streams and lakes to build a house of weekend and an agricultural business. In 1985, after having obtained from the dictatorship the restitution of the lands which had been expropriated by the CEAMSE (Ecological coordination of the metropolitan area of the State company), he was diagnosed with cancer and it was then that he decided to start building this very special village on land that for years had been a dump.
With a group of masons whom he brought together with the neighbors of the region, Antonio designs and builds, without any architectural knowledge, a village of mixed styles in the middle of the woods which he himself has planted, and breaks the molds of construction, building the new on the basis of the old.
A complex where medieval-style constructions coexist, curved passages with cobblestones and railway sleepers as if coming out of a 15th-century European village, fairy-tale houses, a Dutch windmill, a locomotive with wagons and a colonial chapel, etc. . One of its most interesting sites is the Museum of Bars, where different types of wrought iron railings, hanging chandeliers, stained glass windows, ancient objects and also works of art are exhibited.
The preservation of nature was one of the most important aspects taken into account during its construction, since it is located in one of the largest nature reserves in the province of Buenos Aires, with more than 100,000 species of trees and different plants. Campanópolis was built by recycling and reusing demolition materials.
Objects of great historical value have been preserved, such as the bleachers thrown for the reconstruction of the Argentinos Juniors stadium, elements from the demolitions of the extension of 9 de Julio Avenue or 19th century materials from the renovation of the Hippodrome of Palermo and Galerías Pacifico. . At the same time, objects such as tiles on the walls, blind doors, portals that do not separate or divide spaces, stairs to nothingness itself, mezzanines consisting of portals, tiles placed on the backings, among others, have been reused.
But why has this village never been inhabited? Perhaps the intervention of architects or urban planners would have resulted in the creation of habitable spaces with notions of comfort and harmony, or who knows, maybe not, because he simply did not have was designed for these purposes. What is certain is that recognizing the most appropriate place to place a window, a door or a piece of furniture, knowing the best orientation and/or ventilation of a dwelling or learning how to size and distribute spaces, are qualities necessary when designing spaces. we live.
Self-constructing methods and alternative production methods produce wonderful results, but on other occasions they end up creating fantasy architecture that tends to invite more visitors than inhabitants. However, in the end, it is still architecture leaving a legacy that shows the traces of a past, worthy of admiration, with many teachings and lessons to learn.
– Christopher Alexander, The timeless way to build.
– Myrna Leal Campanópolis: La aldea que no necesitó de arquitectos.