City of Tigre and its rowing clubs
Permanent Delegation of Argentina to UNESCO
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The city of Tigre is located 30 Km northwest from Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, in the area of encounter of two geographic systems: the plains known as “pampa ondulada” (undulated pampa) and the delta of the Parana River. In relation with the former, Tigre is located in the low lands crossed by water streams that flow into the Plata River; all this generating wetlands and flood areas. This situation has had an impact on the urban structure and morphology and on the functions that have characterised the town from its very beginning onwards. The urban area surrounded by the Tigre, Luján and Reconquista rivers is the result of the human action on a specific natural environment over four hundred years. The origin of the town is related to the natural port where, over the colonial period (late 16th to 18th centuries), the agricultural production coming from the islands of the Paraná delta where dispatched for consumption in Buenos Aires. The presence of rivers and streams are the basis for an attractive landscape for leisure; the arrival of the railway in 1865 facilitated the arrival of visitors from Buenos Aires and Tigre became one of the first tourism destinations in the country at the end of the 19th Century. It also became the ideal place for water sports, especially rowing. Over the last decades of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, many vacations villas were erected in the town itself and in the neighbouring islands. The construction of the Tigre Hotel, demolished in 1941, and of its complementary Tigre Club reinforced the vocation of the town as an important tourism and excursion destination.
The practice of rowing was introduced in Argentina during the last quarter of the 19th Century by members of the British community settled in the country. Between the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, Argentina received an important number of immigrants, coming especially from European countries. Besides the British, other communities adopted rowing and, although the first rowing clubs were established in Buenos Aires, at the end of the century all of them were established in Tigre, in the area next to the Tigre and Luján rivers. Other clubs were established at the beginning of the 20th Century, all of them founded by immigrant communities that included British, French, Belgians, Germans, Swiss, Scandinavians, Italians, Spaniards and the Jewish community. They erected their clubs in Tigre next to other buildings that express the sport and tourism vocation of the city.
The urban area of the city of Tigre proposed for its inclusion on Argentina’s tentative List corresponds to the area next to the Tigre, Luján and Reconquista rivers and encompasses the main concentration of rowing clubs together with other buildings that testify to the tourism and excursion vocation of the town. The architectural ensemble constitutes the main concentration of rowing clubs in South America and one of the main at global scale, differentiated, in relation to other cases, by the pluralism of nationalities and cultural trends that existed in Argentina at the beginning of the 20th Century, something evident in the architectural expression.
The architectural ensemble is a testimony to the eclecticism prevailing over the first decades of the 20th Century, in this case linked to a specific function related to sport and tourism. The tradition of Tigre as a tourism and excursion destination is still alive since the town is one of the most visited places of the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires and the rowing clubs continue their original functions. Traditional skills and knowledge related to construction and repair of boats have also been preserved. Some religious and civil ceremonies are practiced in this attractive urban landscape.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The urban area of the city of Tigre next to the Tigre, Luján and Reconquista rivers constitutes an exceptional testimony to an urban settlement characterised by the presence of rivers and streams and with a tourism and sports vocation. The conditions of the natural environment and the historic circumstances that determined the urban development have taken to a type of settlement atypical in the regional context. The arrival of the railway, and later the establishment of rowing clubs, made of Tigre one of the first tourism centres of Argentina and one of the main sites, at global scale, for the practice of rowing. The establishment of rowing clubs between the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th by foreign communities that at that time arrived in Argentina made that Tigre reflected the cosmopolitan spirit of the country at that time.
The architectural components that testify to the development of the city of Tigre as a tourism centre and, especially, as a place for the practice of rowing, encompass the clubs themselves, vacations villas built between the end of 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, and also buildings related to the services and tourism facilities. As an ensemble, this group of buildings constitutes an exceptional testimony to the architectural eclecticism prevailing in the period, including expressions that span from Italian academicism to the Modern Movement of the 20th Century. This eclecticism is noticeable not only in residential architecture but also in the rowing clubs, where, besides English styles typical of this kind of installations in other regions of the world, there are expressions related to Italian, French, Spanish and modern trends, which contribute to the exceptionality of the architectural ensemble and of the resulting urban landscape.
The tangible and intangible attributes that express the exceptional values of the property are the following:
- The presence of rivers conditioning the structure and morphology of the urban settlement.
- An irregular urban layout with riverside promenades.
- An architectural ensemble corresponding to sport and tourism facilities and vacations residences that testify to the eclecticism prevailing in Argentina between the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th.
- The main concentration of rowing clubs in South America.
- The continuity up to date of tourism and sports functions and vocation, that make the city of Tigre one of the most visited tourism and excursions destinations in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires.
- The testimony to the impact of immigration on Argentine society and culture between the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th.
- The existence of movable properties related to the rowing clubs, competition and leisure boats, that stem from the time of establishments of the clubs and have been preserved by the sport institutions.
- The persistence of traditional knowledge and skills related to the construction and repair of competition boats.
- The persistence of traditional sport, religious, social and cultural activities related and developed in the particular urban landscape of the area.
Criterion (iii): The urban area of the city of Tigre with the rowing clubs constitutes an exceptional testimony to a living tradition related to the practice of tourism and sport. Few places in the world can exhibit the concentration of rowing clubs established by different national communities, as happened in Argentina at that period. The impact of the tourism and sport vocation of the city becomes evident in the urban landscape of the area, in its architecture and in the persistence of immovable and movable components that have an incidence on the identity of the city.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Despite some changes and alterations, understandable since Tigre is a living city, the property presents acceptable conditions of authenticity, noticeable through the persistence of tangible and intangible attributes. Most of the tangible attributes that convey the potential Outstanding Universal Values have been preserved: the presence of rivers as significant components of the urban structure, urban layout that has not undergone significant transformations since the end of the 19th Century, urban fabric that preserves the traditional morphological features and main buildings that testify to the tourism and practice of sports tradition, mainly linked to the practice of rowing. The most significant loss is the Tigre Hotel. The original building of the Teutonia Club was replaced in the 1930s, but the present building (now housing the Naval Prefecture offices) constitutes a contribution to the evolution of the architecture of the rowing clubs, being the only one materialised according to the principles of the Modern Movement.
The buildings encompassed in the proposed property have not undergone significant modifications; the most noticeable is the demolition of the tower of the Argentino Rowing Club, but the building conserves its original conditions of design, form and materials. The restoration works carried out at the ex-Tigre Club have been based on the principles of international documents.
As for intangible sources of information, it is worth mentioning that traditional functions and vocations of the city have been preserved and the condition of tourism and practice of sports destination arrives up to date. Except for the Club Teutonia, the rowing clubs’ buildings continue with their original functions. The use of the former Tigre Club as art museum has incorporated a compatible function that enhances the values of the building and makes it open to visitors. The city of Tigre continues with its vocation of tourism destination, well known at national and international levels and is one of the most visited places of the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires.
The continuity or tourism and sports functions implies the persistence of a tradition that has been kept throughout the 20th Century. The availability of trained staff for repair of competition boats can also be considered as an intangible component that contributes to the authenticity of the property.
Since the property is an urban area, it becomes clear that it has undergone some changes over the years. Nevertheless, the proposed area preserves all the necessary components to convey its potential outstanding universal value; whose attributes have been mentioned in the section above.
When considering the situation of the area at the beginning of the 20th Century, at the time of its consolidation as tourism and sports centre, the most regrettable loss is the Tigre Hotel, demolished in 1941, at a time when the awareness about cultural heritage was very week and was in an initial stage in the country. Some vacations villas have also disappeared because of the natural process of urban renovation; the presence of some of them, bearing evident architectural values, allows verify their contribution to the potential outstanding universal value of the property.
The nominated property, urban areas along the Tigre, Luján and Reconquista rivers, has the adequate size to allow the complete representation of the features and processes that convey the significance of the site. A threat to the integrity of the area has been the real state pressures, particularly over the last ten years of the 20th Century and the present times. The lack of specific regulations for the construction of new buildings allowed the construction of some high-rise buildings that undermine the preservation of the traditional urban scale and landscape. Over the last years, a set of urban regulations have limited the maximum highness permitted. The current code of urban planning is oriented to protect the environmental values of the nominated area, which has been declared historic preservation zone.
Some of the buildings included in the area have been declared National Historic Monument, the highest degree of protection in the country, and other buildings and areas enjoy protection at local level. Nevertheless, it becomes necessary to complete the adequate protection of all the main buildings included in the nominated zone.
Comparison with other similar properties
With the purpose of comparing the city of Tigre with the rowing clubs with other similar urban properties, three aspects have been taken into consideration: cities with the presence of rivers that have an incidence in their urban structure and landscape; cities with a clear tourism and sports vocation, especially related to the practice of rowing, and cities where the impact of different immigrant groups becomes evident in their urban and architectural components. The preliminary comparative analysis has tried to verify the interrelation among those three aspects.
There are not on the World Heritage List or on tentative lists other cases that combine clearly those three aspects, although some cases combine some of them. Although there are several cities on the World Heritage List that are related to the presence or one or more rivers, there are two properties where the presence of rivers is specifically mentioned: Paris, Banks of the Seine, France, and Budapest, including the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarters and the Andrássy Avenue, Hungary. The differences between these two sites and the city of Tigre become evident, since they are two important capital cities with a long history that preserve testimonies to two thousand years of human occupation, some of them with first class historic and artistic relevance. It is worth mentioning that in the case of Paris there are references to the role of the Seine River in commerce, an aspect that could eventually be linked to Tigre. There are no references though to practice of sports and tourism, features that define the profile with which the city of Tigre is nominated.
In relation with cities that have acted, based on their natural resources, as tourism destinations, it is possible to mention the city of Bath, United Kingdom, inscribed in 1987. Although the place has been recognized as a thermal centre since the Roman times, the inscription on the World Heritage List focuses on the monumental urban-architectural ensembles and on the testimonies to the Roman period. Another case that could be cited is the current project related to the European spa cities, developed by the States Parties of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. This proposal is based on the presence of thermal waters that characterize those countries and that have acted as basis for important tourism destinations. The nature of the basic resource, the thermal waters, constitutes the essential difference of all of them with the city of Tigre, although in some cases there is a coincidence in the periods of development as tourism destinations between the European cities and Tigre.
As for the presence of eclectic architecture related with the settlement of communities coming from Europe, it is possible to mention Kulangsu, China, inscribed on the State Party’s tentative list. Because of its geographic location and its relationship with the trade between China and Europe, the island was, between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, a place of convergence of different cultural trends, evident in the presence of eclectic architecture based on European expressions which are in some cases combined with examples of the local tradition. Although a similitude could be presence of different expressive trends, the differences of historical and functional circumstances are evident.
On the tentative lists of States Parties from the Latin American and Caribbean region there are no properties that could be compared with the city of Tigre. There are not either sites on the tentative lists of European States Parties related to the beginning or development of the practice of rowing as a sport. Regarding these kind of sites, the universities cities in Great Britain, where rowing has been a typical practice, are not inscribed on the World Heritage List or in the State Party’s tentative list.
As for sites with some similarities to the city of Tigre not inscribed on the World Heritage List or on tentative lists, Tigre has been first compared with other cases in Argentina. The city of Tigre has the main concentration of rowing clubs in the country and its vocation of urban centre that became tourism and excursions destination, the property has no comparison within the country. In no other city in Argentina we can find such a concentration of rowing clubs, complementary buildings and vacations villas linked to a fluvial landscape with the eclectic architecture of the period between the end of 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
At regional level, Tigre can be compared with the city of Valdivia, Chile, whose urban structure is defined by the presence of rivers and is an important place for the practice of rowing. The geographical location of Valdivia contributed, at the end of the 19th Century, that the rivers were used as a place for the practice of sports, becoming the main location in Chile for the practice of rowing. Along the Callecalle and Valdivia rivers some rowing clubs are located, together with universities and cultural facilities; all this makes an attractive promenade that characterizes the city. There are four rowing clubs in the city: Phoenix Sporting Club, Centenario de Remeros Club, Arturo Pratt Rowing Club and Regatas Valdivia Club, all of them located next to the Callecalle River not far from its confluence with Valdivia River. The buildings of these institutions do not present a prominent architectural value. Besides the mentioned rowing clubs, along the fluvial embankment there are also some cultural institutions, such as the Contemporary Arts and Anthropology museums. Because of the presence of rowing clubs and other cultural institutions, this area of the city of Valdivia along the Callecalle River could have some features comparable with the city of Tigre. The importance or the river for the city is similar to Tigre; nonetheless, the number and architectural qualities of rowing clubs in the Argentine city constitute a significant testimony to the cultural diversity based on immigration, reflected in the architecture of the rowing clubs, something that is not verified in Valdivia.
Outside the Latin America and Caribbean region, there are some cases that could be comparable with Tigre on the basis of similar attributes. The comparison is proposed in relation to sites located in the United Kingdom, as cradle or rowing in the modern era and the country where the first rowing clubs were established, and in North America, where it becomes possible to find some places with some similarities to Tigre.
a.- River Thames area, United Kingdom
In England, a region that concentrates an important amount of rowing clubs is the one along the Thames River, historic core of the practice of rowing, not only in the country but in the world. Rowing has been practiced on the Thames since immemorial times, but at the beginning of the 19th Century rowing became a professional practice. Most of the rowing clubs are located towards the west from London; sixteen rowing clubs have been identified, not including those belonging to universities and other education institutions. One particular case is the town on Henley-on-Thames, in Oxfordshire, which constitutes one of the most famous rowing centres in the world and place of the famous regatta that bears the name of the town. There are several rowing clubs, of which the most important are the Leander Club, established in 1818 and famous for being the first in its type, the Henley Rowing Club, Phyllis Court Rowing Club, Upper Thames Rowing Club and Henley Whalers. These clubs, together with others from the same country, have inspired other clubs in the whole world. The town has a particular landscape, characterized by the role of the river and the boats. The architecture corresponds predominantly to the English tradition. The urban landscape of Henley has some similarities with Tigre along the Tigre and Luján rivers; the main difference consists in that, besides the influences, Henley represent the stereotype of the Englishness, whereas in Tigre, as explained in previous sections, the English influence is accompanied by the other countries corresponding to the communities that established the rowing clubs, generating a cosmopolitan ambience that reflected Argentina at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries.
b.- Cambridge, United Kingdom
The area of the Cam River contains another important concentration of rowing clubs in the United Kingdom. The students from Oxford and Cambridge Universities were the first to show interest for practicing rowing. Both Universities founded in 1828 and 1829, respectively, their rowing clubs. On 10 June 1820, the first Oxford – Cambridge regatta was held, something that happens every year on the Thames. The area along the Cam River has a particular characteristic image, defined by the features of the English landscape design and, in the areas next to the University, by the presence of the colleges’ architecture. Once again, as in the mentioned case of Henley, the expression of the Englishness makes a clear difference with the more eclectic urban landscape of Tigre.
c.- Durham, United Kingdom
In the city of Durham, the Wearde River offers the possibility of some 1800 meters for the practice of rowing, from the ancient Durham Beck at the east to the Durham School Boat Club's at the west. Along the river banks there are several rowing clubs located in Durham, Chester- le- Street and Sunderland and are members of the British Rowing; whereas the clubs from Durham University belong to the Durham College Rowing. Once again, the presence of the river gives the city a particular character, in this case crowned by the imposing Durham Cathedral.
d.- Area of the Charles River, Boston, USA
The area surrounding the city of Boston, USA, structured along the Charles Rives, has a tourism, recreational and sports use, and includes a concentration of rowing clubs that allow comparing it with Tigre. There are some twenty rowing clubs, although not all of them bear historic or architectural values. The Union Boat Club, established in 1851, is the most ancient and continues up to present times. Another historic clubs are the Weld Boathouse, also known as Radcliff, which belongs to Harvard University and established in 1899, the Newell Boathouse, also related to Harvard and established in 1909, the Cambridge Boat Club, a private association established in 1909, and the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Boathouse, 1910. Other clubs were established throughout the 20th Century, up to the last decades. As for the architecture of the clubs, some of them bear architectural values as references of the eclecticism of late 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th. At the same time, there are examples of different stages of the development of modern architecture. A similitude with Tigre is the concentration of rowing clubs, but one of the main differences is that, in the case of the Charles River, these clubs are distributed in an area some 7 Km long, without the density of concentration that we can find in Tigre in a shorter area. The rowing clubs in Boston were not established by immigrant communities but rather by education institutions or private associations not linked to a specific national community. From an architectural point of view, there is not the variety of expressions existing in Tigre and most of historic buildings in Boston are related to the North-American architectural tradition.
e.- Area of Yale University, USA
In 1843, the University of Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, founded the first rowing university team of the United States of America. Following what happened in Harvard, one year later a rowing club was established. Until 1852, these clubs served a social purpose; that year Yale and Harvard held the first rowing competence between universities. Next to the Quinnipiac River, the University of Yale has facilities that allow training and practice of rowing.
As a result of this first approach to a comparative study, it is possible to express that Tigre, as a fluvial city characterized by its tourism and sports activities, especially rowing, constitutes an exceptional case at international level. Although there are some properties inscribed on the World Heritage List that have some attributes with similarities with those of Tigre, their nature and historic, architectural, social and landscape values are substantially different. On the tentative lists, there are no cases that present a conjunction of values and attributes as those present in the nominated zone of the city of Tigre.