Bolivia’s “Spaceship Architecture” Showcases The New Wealth Of Indigenous People

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By Jeanne Kim
Feb 21, 2015, QUARTZ

The architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre’s extravagant urban mansions in El Alto, Bolivia, have been derided as kitschy-looking cohetillos, meaning “spaceships”—giving his work the nickname “spaceship architecture.”

But the admirers of Freddy Mamani, as he is generally known, say his colorful “new Andean” style has also served to reinvent a city once aesthetically monochromatic, and that he has found a way to bring traditional Andean and Tiwanaku cultures into an urban setting.

A recent show at London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture displayed a four-piece exhibit of Mamani’s architecture titled Salones de Eventos, or Party Hall. A documentary is in production detailing the architect’s life and architecture as well.

An Aymaran architect, Mamani was a pioneer of this architectural style, says Elisabetta Andreoli, an architectural historian and co-author of The Architecture of Freddy Mamani Silvestre. Quartz tried to speak with Mamani directly, but was unable to reach him after several phone calls.

Originally from rural La Paz, a city near El Alto, Mamani, who according to Andreoli is around 41 years old, started laying bricks at the age of 14 (link in Spanish). Later he went to engineering school. Read more…

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