Because many of us are longing for times past, a housing complex from 1927 has become the desired living spot for Buenos Aires’ artistic types. Not fancy new towers, not mc mansions in private neighborhoods an hour from the city.
Though it’s not hard to understand why. Barrio Parque Los Andes is at least 80 years old, but it has so many of the qualities that any environmentalist or green urbanite would want for a home: low rise buildings separated by shadow distance, green spaces, culture, and community living.
It was the first municipal collective housing in the city, and since it opened it is administered by its neighbors.
Designed by architect Fermin Bereterbide, it was influenced by oriental trends of empty spaces, privileging common areas and parks between buildings. As Juan Molina y Vedia, architect and investigator, says in an explanatory video: “Emptiness is what makes a house exist. Space is created by the emptiness in which one can move and live.”
The complex is composed of a whole block, divided into 17 buildings each four floors high, a total of 157 apartments.
It is organized around a central axis in which a fountain gathers neighbors and kids, recovering the idea of the colonial patio. Trees and green spaces abound around it, and all of the common spaces are filled with benches to sit and have a mate or chat with neighbors.
Community areas also include a soccer court, flowered pergola, a theater and a library.
Only three types of apartments populate the buildings, all of them with ample spaces, windows in all its fronts, and natural ventilation.
As it usually happens, when the complex was built it was underestimated and the architect, ignored, which makes one think about how many places like this perhaps we did not get to see thanks to demolition.
I was able to live here for a few months recently and I can state: what a difference from anything else. I didn’t feel so much the community as in organized activity because I didn't have much time to get involved in it, but I did feel the unspoken warmth of neighbors feeling part of something, every single one saying a simple “Hi” when crossing paths in the park.
Only a block away is the very busy Corrientes Avenue, and the huge trees inside the inner park of the complex acted as a buffer for street noise. Very early in the morning the sound of parrots feeding was a natural tranquilizer.
A confirmation on how different our cities can be through design.