Archives For latin america

revolutionary round houses

August 24, 2013 — 1 Comment

Cuba is among a handful of countries, according to WordPress site stats, from which no visitor has ever found his or her way to this blog. I’ll attribute the lack of Cuban traffic to few computers and many restrictions on internet access, not to a lack of interest in round houses; in fact, as I just learned, Havana has a whole neighborhood filled with circular homes.

reparto abel santamariaThe Reparto Abel Santamaria complex, by Nicolas de la Cova, was built in 1963, a few years after the Batista government was forced from power. Those initial post-revolution years were a period of enormous architectural innovation, with young, progressive architects and designers exploring new ideas and new forms as they attempted to build a new Cuba.

Eduardo Luis Rodríguez, a Cuban architect and historian, has commented on the prominence of the circle as an architectural form in Cuba during that period. The city of Havana gained a number of circular buildings, including the Nuevo Vedado primary school and the famous ice-cream store Coppelia.

One can see Reparto Abel Santamaria’s dozens of round houses — and its large circular market building — quite well via Google maps. Each structure is about 30 feet in diameter, designed to house a family of six.


casa redonda

May 25, 2013 — 1 Comment

Built in 1915 in the city of Rafaela, Argentina, and demolished in 1956 –

casa redonda, argentina

The owner of the house, Pablo Travaini, was an Italian immigrant to Argentina who ran a brickworks. He apparently suffered from asthma, and believed that the air would circulate better in a house that was round. This photo shows Travaini and his family on the day the house was inaugurated.

the casa bola

February 19, 2013 — 3 Comments

apartamento mag - casa bola - eduardo longoThis month’s edition of Apartamento magazine features an interview with Brazilian architect Eduardo Longo, who designed — and has lived for decades in — a spherical house in São Paulo.

Built by Longo himself over a five-year period, beginning in the early 1970s, the house was meant to be the prototype for a utopian project of apartment blocks made of up dozens of spherical structures.  The apartment blocks were never built, but Longo has now lived more than 30 years in his “ball house,” or Casa Bola.

Made of smooth molded concrete, the house is 25 feet in diameter, and has four levels, three bedrooms, several bathrooms, a dining room, a living room, a kitchen, and a hammock. Its decor is strictly minimalist and very white. Much more colorful on the outside, it sports a bright yellow slide that exits from below and a spherical yellow decoration on top.

Longo’s son Lucas, who grew up in the Casa Bola, now has a spherical house of his own. Both structures have been featured on the TV series The World’s Most Extreme Homes. The son’s house, whose levels are linked by curving ramps rather than stairs, is somewhat reminiscent of Eduardo Longo’s 1980 design for a utopian pavilion.

an affinity for curves

December 7, 2012 — 3 Comments

With the death of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer on December 5, the world has lost a leading proponent of curved, rounded, wavy and spiraling forms. A modernist innovator, Niemeyer, who began working in the late 1930s, eschewed the straight lines and boxy shapes that had characterized modernism up to that time.

niemeyer staircase

“Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man,” explained Niemeyer in The Curves of Time, his 1998 memoir. “What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love.”

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