The proposal is a “heritage archipelago” concerning the cities of Buenos Aires and La Plata between the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the beginnings of the twentieth century. Both cities are located in the plains of the Pampas on the Río de la Plata, only 50 km apart from each other. The former was founded in 1580 under the Indian Laws of the Spanish Crown and established capital of the Argentine Republic in 1880 which led to a reformulation of the urban and architectural development project. The latter was founded in 1882 as the Capital of the Buenos Aires Province with an innovative urban plan. Furthermore, new infrastructure and buildings were constructed within a short period of time.
Both cities present a geometric layout with rectilinear streets in the shape of a grid complemented it with boulevards. In addition, the square outline in both cities has a common pattern consisted in the division of blocks in different sizes of lots which are smaller in the corners and bigger and larger in the centre of them. In most of the cases, there is a private ownership of land supported by the National Constitution which determined the urban and architectural development in both cities subjected to periodic changes in the planning code. The monumental architecture was built by the various levels of government: national, provincial and municipal. In relation to the infrastructure, the investment was made from both the public and private sectors. Thus, this typically Latin American urban phenomenon is different from the European one as it is the result of an eclectic liberality manifested itself in urban, stylistic and technological way.
It is a system of monuments and sites from both Buenos Aires and La Plata designed and built between 1880 and 1920 that constitute a “heritage system” of different scales and materials. This system includes the urban model, the landscaping and the heritage buildings where most of the activities of a modern democratic republic took place. It also represents the positivist and liberal values that inspired much of the Latin American ruling leadership at that time.
These two cities are a privileged testimony of a crucial period in the political, economic and socio-cultural evolution of Argentina and America. They also represent the solution to an internal conflict between the Province of Buenos Aires and the rest of the country in relation to the national organization that lasted several decades. That conflict was solved when the Province of Buenos Aires ceded part of the territory and contributed to the federalization of the city of Buenos Aires supported by the National Congress Law, which also included the creation of a new capital in La Plata.
The selection of urban and building components is based both on its own exceptional value and also on being an important part of a unique set, which express altogether the capital layout, the cultural and scientific functions of the cities and the seat of the republican powers in a single testimony of a modern and progressive society between the last two decades of the nineteenth century and the beginnings of the twentieth century. Moreover, each component reflects in a unique way the culture of the eclecticism that dominates the cities in that period of time as well as the urban and architectural culture with its series of typological, stylistic and constructive techniques which ended up in Argentina just before the First World War begun.
Finally, this system also expresses the processes of transculturation and a unique way to combine the arts of design and construction linked to the transfer of knowledge as a result of the immigration process. Within this period of time, Buenos Aires changed from being the "Gran Aldea" into the "Great City of Europe" through an unusual urban and architectural development. The same happened with La Plata, which emerged as a new city with an innovative urban project, monumental buildings and an infrastructure of original features.
This phenomenon of metropolisation of the two capitals was characterized by the variety of the architecture projects and constructions which makes it unique. A sample of typological, stylistic and technological buildings make up the series international in scope presented. The eclecticism was marked both by the universal architectural culture of the period and by the participation of architects and engineers, builders and masons, landscapers and urban planners from various countries trained in various schools. The same happened with the transfer of technology knowledge, with the materials and constructive components of diverse origin. This was also reinforced by the different origins of the investments or the multiple references that the Argentine political and administrative leadership took.
The selection of the two cities is based on the continuous interaction of their development as complementary capitals constituting a patrimonial asset of universal value. It represents the multiple, diverse and complex operations concerning planning and construction of urban, environmental and architectural projects that reflect the universe of theories and practices in the process of modernization that sought to carry out especially the new states arising from the ideas of the Enlightenment.
At that time, modernity was based on industrialization, scientism, higienism, planning, secularism, universal education. All of these were positivist and liberal values that inspired a good part of the Latin American ruling leadership. The heritage of both cities also embodies certain principles that Argentina adopted for its organization and international insertion established in the National Constitution of 1853 that states "... to constitute the national union, to strengthen justice, to consolidate internal peace, to provide for common defense, promote the general welfare, and ensure the benefits of freedom, for us, for our posterity, and for all the men of the world who want to inhabit the Argentine soil ... " and where concepts were also added, among which the concepts of "Rule is to populate" and "Educate the sovereign . "
Between 1880 and 1920, Argentina had an unprecedented development that changed its demographic composition and its territorial appearance. In the first place, the population structure of those days was mostly composed of immigrants who had came from Europe. This immigration brought different traditions, customs and knowledge that were combined with the local idiosyncrasy. These contributions were of great intensity in the field of culture and particularly notable in the field of architecture, construction, design and decorative arts. Some actions and movements were crucial in relation to the physical transformation of the territory: major investments in rail-port infrastructure, an agricultural-livestock revolution, imposing sanitation and sanitation works, extensive educational and health policies. It was also important the development of multicultural expressions and public spaces which set a unique character for the cities.
The selection of this tandem is supported by the dialectic between both cities which were consecrated capital by political decisions that also extended to aspects of their project and materialization. The experience of La Plata served as a laboratory for urban design, implementation and building solutions that had a direct influence on operations of the same type in Buenos Aires. Thus, for example, in La Plata modern, urban and hygienic layouts and large public buildings were the result of international project competitions before they were in Buenos Aires, and in them the technique of facade-like stone was used (conceived by the immigrants and then adopted throughout the country) for the first time.
The variety of political, economic, social and cultural factors that led to the construction of these two cities in the period led to an intrinsic spatial, aesthetic and technological heterogeneity present in all its components and which is one of its main attributes that is maintained until today.
Definition of the Heritage Archipelago
The delimitation of the heritage cluster was set giving special consideration to the central area of both cities, where most of the urban, architectural, landscape, equipment and infrastructure interventions of the period 1880-1920 are concentrated/ located. The selection of the heritage assets took into account the representativeness that monuments and sites have in order to fulfill the qualities for belonging to the culture of modernity, eclecticism and immigration. This selection includes a great typological-functional, formal-stylistic and constructive-technological diversity that completes most of the evolutionary or innovative, combinatorial or derivative and reinterpretational or transformative alternatives that were presented in the conformation of both capitals.
List of components of the heritage archipelago of the Two Capitals
Selected Areas and Monuments
The area is inserted into a section of the original founding trace from the late 16th century, completely readapted by the interventions launched during the transformation of the city into a capital (1880). This included the opening of new avenues, squares, infrastructures and the construction of monumental buildings and urban fabric of higher density and architectural complexity.
The buffer zone includes the whole Historical Protection Districts Number 1 “San Telmo - Avenida de Mayo” and Number 40 "Corredor Aduana - Palacio de Correos", according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Presidente Roque Sáenz Peña Avenue (Diagonal Norte)
Parque 3 de Febrero
Retiro – Plaza San Martín
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection District Number 38 “Entorno Plaza San Martín, Plaza Fuerza Aérea Argentina y Museo Ferroviario” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection Areas Number 1 “San Telmo – Avenida de Mayo” and Number 54 “Catedral al Norte” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Palacio de Aguas Corrientes area
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection Districts Number 50 “Avenida Callao” and Number 12 “Palacio de Aguas Argentinas y Normal N° 1” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
The buffer zone includes the whole Historical Protection District Number 1 “San Telmo - Avenida de Mayo”, according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
La Piedad area
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection Area Number 16 “Pasajes Rivarola y La Piedad y su entorno” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Dársena Norte area
The buffer zone includes the Heritage Protection District U32 “Antiguo Puerto Madero” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
La Boca area
The buffer zone includes the Special Architecture District Number 4 “Circuito de interés turístico La Boca” and the Historical Protection Districts Number 8 “Vuelta de Rocha”, Number 9 “Transbordador” and Number 10 “Conjunto Barraca Peña s/Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection District Number 13 “Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Balvanera – Colegio San José” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Estación Plaza Constitución - Ferrocarril del Sud . Located at 1128 Brasil Avenue
The buffer zone includes the whole Historical Protection District Number 5 “Ámbito Iglesia Santa Felicitas” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
The buffer zone includes the area protected by de Law 3.697, according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Palacio Errázuriz Alvear (National Museum of Decorative Arts). Located 1902 Del Libertador Avenue.
The buffer zone includes the Historical Protection District Number 3 “Ámbito Grand Bourg y Palermo Chico” according to the Planning Code of the City of Buenos Aires.
Instituto Bernasconi. Located in the block surrounded by Cátulo Castillo, Catamarca, Rondeau and Esteban de Luca street.
The core area in the city of La Plata, corresponds to a sector of the foundational trace, committed by an urbanization that includes the foundational axis, Avenue. 51 and 53, - which contains some of the foundational buildings and the area of the Forest that in turn, it contains some remarkable examples.
In the foundational axis from Avenue 1 stands out the public buildings, - projected as a result of international competitions to which it is added constitutes a boulevard that will be likewise protected next to the squares that it comprises in its development.
Selected Areas and Monuments
- House of Government Province of Buenos Aires, block included by the streets 6, 5 and the Avenues 51 and 53
- Provincial Legislature, Block included on Av. 7, 8th Street, Avenues 51 and 53.
- Passage Dardo Rocha. Municipal Cultural Center.
- Municipality of La Plata city
- Cathedral of La Plata.
- D'Amico Palace.
- Rivadavia Square
- San Martin Square
- Moreno Square
Forest Area of La Plata
- Astronomical Observatory (National University of La Plata)
- Museum of Natural Sciences. (National University of La Plata)
- Martín Fierro Lake Theater, Province of Buenos Aires
- National College of La Plata (National University of La Plata)
- Faculty of Engineering (National University of La Plata)
- Parthenon Pavilion (National University of La Plata)
- Building of the La Plata Railroad Station on Avenue 1 and 44th street.
- Head Office of the Bank of the Province of Buenos Aires
- Presidency of the National University of La Plata
- Palace of Justice Province of Buenos Aires
- General Directorate of Schools and Culture Province of Buenos Aires.
Near to 80 Diagonal
- Victor Merchant Lyceum (National University of La Plata)
- Church San Ponciano
Near to 74 Diagonal
- Theatre Coliseo Podestá. 10th Street between 46 and 47 streets
Near to 73 Diagonal
- Sacred Heart Parish.
- Meridiano V Railway.Station
The buffer zone includes:
- All the Forest sector, included 1 Avenue, 120 Avenue, 60 Avenue and 41th street .
- next to the frontage areas of the Avenues, Diagonals, Squares and Buildings listed
- They also include this area:
- 44 Avenue from 1 Avenue to 13 Avenue
- 60 Avenue between 1 Avenue and 13 Avenue
- Italia Square, intersection of 44 Avenue and 7 Avenue, 74 Diagonal and 77 Diagonal
- Paso Square, intersection of 44 Avenue and 13 Avenue.
- Rocha Square, intersection of 60 Avenue, and 7 Avenue, 78 Diagonal and 73 Diagonal.
- Máximo Paz Square, intersection of 60 Avenue, and 13th Street.
- Meridiano V Railway sector, comprised of 71st streets, 72 Avenue, 13 Avenue, 22nd street
 is a denomination used internationally in the last years and refers to a non contiguous nor adjacent set of monuments and sites of similar patrimonial features inside a city or an area.
The heritage cluster of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century of the cities of Buenos Aires and La Plata is representative of the construction of the integral and monumental system of two capital cities, one being national and the other provincial. Not only they are proximate in geographical terms but they were also constructed under the same unique characteristics at an international level within a particular political process. One of them a pre-existing city and the other an ex-novo city. There is no other case world-wide where a similar political, urban and cultural event occurred.
Two capital cities associated in the representation of republican values, also positivist and liberal, with the agreement of two governments in each one of them. Their materialization was generated by the contribution of modernity, eclecticism and immigration; an unrestricted combination with an aspiration to excellence, not seen in any other contemporary city. The materialization of these intentions was paired with the planning of the republican legal system, with a federal reach. This planning of individual and private property rights gave shape to a diverse urban layout with discontinued monumentalities.
The cultural property heritage of this period in both cities derives from an intense ascription to the era’s ideals of modernity. These were: progressivism, industrialization, scientism, hygienism, planning, secularism and universal education. These ideals are transcultured by means of an inclusive and unprejudiced process that appreciably modifies the order, rigour, systematization and ideologization of modernity, while intending to assimilate it.
The proposed heritage compilation is the highest expression of the prevailing eclecticism in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century in most of the cities of the world. The eclecticism that took place in this area in the fields of architecture, engineering, urbanism, landscaping or decorative arts involved countless stylistic, technological, cultural and artistic combinations, led by the political, social and economic liberality, defined by the state legal system and the multicultural input of immigration.
By way of example, some of the monuments and sites of both cities are listed below; they are at the same time part of the complex and multifaceted heritage archipelago and have exceptional value in themselves.
BA (Buenos Aires) LP (La Plata)
La Plata layout
The design of the city is an innovative, highly sustainable solution that integrates various urban traditions of the western world with concepts of hygiene, functionalism, landscaping and building aesthetics prevailing at the end of the 19th century.
Buenos Aires trident
The opening of Avenida de Mayo, of pan-European character due to its multiple ancestry, was complemented by the layout of two diagonals avenues (North and South) that shapped the Civic Axis. Together they define a urban system that connects the headquarters of the National and Municipal state powers (Executive, Legislative and Judicial).
Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes (BA)
Major component of the city's sanitation system, this giant water cistern was designed by a Norwegian architect, built by a British company with Italian masons, fulfilled with a metal structure imported from Belgium and exteriorly clad with English terracotta.
Teatro Colón (BA) and Coliseo Podestá (LP)
In the first case the building appears as the end of the three centuries saga of design of opera theaters. The resulted was an incomparable acoustics and the combination of the aesthetics of different European architectural cultures. The second is the embodiment of the theater-circus building, emerged from a tradition with great roots in the Rio de la Plata.
Museo de Ciencias Naturales, Observatorio and Zoo (LP)
Precursor and unique in its kind, this scientific-educational park includes an astronomical observatory for the presentation of cosmic dimension, a museum of natural sciences designed to exhibit the collections according to the Darwinian theory of evolution, and a zoo to present the surviving species.
Buildings of the Monumental Axis (LP)
Emerged from an international competition in 1882 these structures correspond to various functional types and historical styles emerging from the intervention of designers, builders and artists of different European origin. Within an unprecedented urban configuration, all these institutional and monumental buildings have an intermittent location in the row of blocks of the central axis of the city. In all of them the facades were covered with simile stone plaster, a technique which immediately became the rule for the exterior of all buildings in Argentina for more than half a century.
Series of railway stations: Retiro, Constitución and Once (BA)
Emerging mostly from the investment of British origin, these buildings constitute a complete saga of the evolution of architecture and railway technology of English origin for more than five decades. In the case of Retiro Station, it is the most remarkable Edwardian station in the world.
Monuments of the Centenary (BA)
As part of the important heritage of monuments in the public space of the city, this set of sculptural and architectural pieces of great size, offered by the various immigrant communities, was located along the avenue that is the north access to the city center.
Palacio de Justicia (BA)
Great example of the final phase of Beaux Arts architecture, the building represents the limit of the possibilities of academic and historicist design in a project that combines the headquarters of one of the highest powers of the state with large areas of bureaucratic offices .
National Congress Palace (BA)
Resulting from an international competition hold in 1895, the exterior of the building is a combination that refers to the classicist-baroque facades of the Berlin Reichstag together with the slender dome based on a square drum like that of the Mole Antonelliana in Torino.
Galería Güemes (BA)
Combination of two architectural types: the covered passage and the skyscraper, the building is the result of the collaboration of an Italian architect and a German construction company. In this case, the opulent art nouveau forms are combined with a large reinforced concrete structure, the highest in the world in the 1910s.
Colegio Nacional (BA)
Great sample of the "school-palace" type that was symbol of the modern and inclusive educational policies of Argentina from 1880 stipulating universal, free, free and secular education for natives and immigrants. The monumental building is a typical piece of Beaux Arts architecture based on a highly complex functional program.
Parque 3 de febrero (BA)
Designed by a French landscape artist on the basis of the pan-European picturesque tradition of the 19th century, the large compound contains a repertoire of species from different regions of the world as well as an amazing collection of sculptures by different European and Argentinean authors.
Subway Line A (BA)
Built under the Avenida de Mayo by a German company using the open-pit trench system and metal structures, it is the first underground railway line in Latin America. The stations design introduced the Biedermeier revival and the original trains were provided by a Belgian company.
Cementerio de la Recoleta (BA)
True open-air museum of architecture of eclecticism, this cemetery is a small city. Its layout includes avenues, diagonals and streets, an heterogeneous urban fabric fulfilled with eclectic funeral architecture and sculpture with endless repertoire of materials, construction techniques and decorative forms.
Palacio Errázuriz (BA)
One of the largest and most refined private residences of the high bourgeoisie, this recreation of French classicism was conceived as the future Museum of Decorative Arts, so its interiors present a wide repertoire of decoration, furniture and art collections from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Palacio Grimoldi (BA)
Grand example of the apartment buildings erected by immigrants turned into businessmen. Within the prevailing modernist style the structure is organized as an ocean liner: three blocks for the first, second and third class but horizontally aligned.
Sociedad Unione e Benevolenza (BA)
Top example of an architectural typology that was only built in Argentina: the social headquarters of Italian immigrants groups that was at the same time a “temple of the Risorgimento” and a meeting place for and dissemination of Italian culture.
Puente Transbordador Nicolás Avellaneda (BA)
Extraordinary metal structure whose type was scarcely diffused worldwide. This sliding bridge crane to transport people between the two banks of the Riachuelo became an icon of the Boca neighborhood.
Churches of Santa Felicitas and of Santísimo Sacramento (BA)
Catedral of La Plata (LP)
Important samples of the variety of the eclectic religious architecture of the heritage archipelago of the two cities. In the first case it is the only surviving church of its type (a combination of Paleo-Christian, Romanesque and Byzantine) defined as the representative style of the German unification. The second case is an exquisite Byzantine revival piece of the French school completely furnished. The third case, a project conceived by German and French architects completed after several decades can be considered one of the most remarkable Gothic revival cathedrals of the time.
Criterion (ii): The choice of criterion (ii) is justified because the proposed heritage compilation is the result of a monumental exchange of values derived from both tradition and innovation of various European and American cultures; a singular phenomenon that occurred in Buenos Aires and La Plata, from 1880 to 1920. These exchanges, marked by an affiliation to the culture of modernity, eclecticism and immigration occurred in all constructive areas; architecture, decoration, engineering, planning and landscaping, both in theory and in practice. They were also applied to set the configuration of both capitals.
Criterion (iv): The choice of criterion (iv) is justified widely due to the ensemble in different aspects (landscape, architecture, construction and technology), for its variety and complexity may be considered the apotheosis of eclecticism, also due to the cultural combination arising from an immigration process of unique characteristics and putting into practice varied components of the ideals of modernity.
The selected system of monuments and sites of both cities are still in current use, both in its representation of values and attributes and its operation, materiality and representativeness without modifications that alter its exceptionality or institutional value. Regardless their discontinuity, they form the axes, sites and venues of greater hierarchy, grandeur and complexity of both cities. The architectural monuments mostly conserve their original form and materiality. Most of them preserve their original function too, especially those of public property. Similarly, public spaces in the urban layout (avenues, boulevards, squares, parks) also preserve their original form, materiality and urban and social uses.
None of these components has been replaced by others in the political, social and cultural significance in which they were originally conceived and appropriated by the citizens. They are considered a fundamental part of the physical, institutional, functional and symbolic conformation of both cities, as well as the most admired heritage where the greatest efforts are concentrated regarding its preservation. Likewise, the urban layout, subject to several changes of regulations over a century, preserves its original heterogeneity.
In the selection of the heritage cluster of both cities, the criteria and devices established for the construction of the capital city were taken into account within the central areas of Buenos Aires and La Plata, they both have similar surfaces. In the first case urban, architectural, landscape and substantive infrastructural interventions that modified the original plot were carried out, most of the public civil architecture was demolished and the pre-existing urban layout was destroyed. In the second case, a new city was designed and built on the basis of modern urban principles with the necessary equipment and public infrastructure needed in order to assume the role of the new provincial capital.
The selection of all the integral assets of the heritage cluster of the two cities are monuments and sites erected during the consigned period (1880 -1920) and within these mentioned central areas. They are all representative of the culture of modernity, eclecticism and immigration. In most of them, the plurality of multicultural values manifests both in their typology, as well as in their formality or materiality. The preservation of its materiality is in excellent conditions despite it suffered, as happened throughout the world, the attacks and prejudices of historiography and criticism. These hardships towards the heritage of academicism, eclecticism and historicism continue until these days.
The system preserves its intentionality and its original recognition of constituting an ensemble of monuments and sites of political, cultural, artistic and social significance for the citizens. The evolution of urbanism and architecture throughout the twentieth century left its marks in both cities, as well as it did throughout the Americas. This was exposed almost exclusively in the urban layout, conformed since its origins by private property in both cases. Nonetheless it was also a heterogeneous conformation from the moment of tis capitalization due to the discontinuous urban development. This continued to be this way together with the change of the planning codes in both cities. In any case, from the 1990s, physical integrity in both cases is ensured by the municipal, provincial and national regulations which are current and in treatment.
Note that the heritage assets of the considered period (late 19th and early 20th century) are scarcely represented on the World Heritage List.
The heritage cluster of this two cities reflects like none the complexity of the period, appearing as an intricate web of overlapping culminations and beginnings. In a context of increasing globalization, transfers, mobility and exchanges, of both ideas and people, products and services reached unrivalled levels.
The World Heritage List, only includes four cases that include monuments and sites of this period: Liverpool, Budapest, Mumbai and Valparaíso.
The case of Liverpool, includes a set of monuments and sites that were built between the eighteenth and twentieth century. It is not a capital city and most of the buildings hold equipment or commercial functions.
In the case of Budapest, the Declaration includes heritage assets on both banks of the Danube River and the axis of Andrássy Avenue, that belong to different time periods from the ruins of the first Roman settlements, to those of the medieval and Baroque period including some examples of 19th century architecture.
In the case of Mumbai, the Victorian Districts were included in the tentative list but only the Victoria Station was included in the World Heritage List. The Victorian heritage of India is the result of a transculturation process in which British architecture is combined with Hindu traditions. In this case there is no evidence of a convergence of more than two architectural cultures. Besides, the city of Mumbay was not a capital during the mentioned period.
The case of Valparaiso Declaration enshrines the city’s port area, that was rebuilt in the beginning of the 20th century. where commercial architecture has preference, equipment and housing of industrial descent where there is almost no public architecture of large scale.
None of the mentioned cases collect and condense the meanings described in the Buenos Aires - La Plata tandem. In comparison of Pretoria and New Delhi bear witness to British imperial rule over South Africa and India, quite different from the Argentine Republican model. Similarly appear as representations of a centralized monarchical power operations of capitalization of headers three cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire: Vienna, Budapest and Prague, where in addition the spatial eclecticism, formal or technological not reach multicultural complexity of the Argentinean case.
In the field of urban planning, the realization of La Plata is an advanced and relatively well preserved example of a city that was designed and built ex novo during the late 19th century. La Plata was taken as reference in the planning of a new capital city for Italy and in the realization of Belo Horizonte city in Brazil. In the same way, the transformation of Buenos Aires during the late nineteenth century inspired the urban and architectural renovation of Rio de Janeiro in the first decades of the 20th century.
The multiple transculturation formulas, the prominence of the immigrants’ knowledge, the variety in which eclecticism was developed, the combination of theories and models, and the incorporation of diverse types of urban, landscape, constructive and technological solutions took place with unique characteristics that can not be verified in any other cases inside or outside the World Heritage List.
It can be said that in the Argentine case, the architectural and urban culture of the period was developed with unrestricted liberality, within the framework of a positivist rationalist modernity, but without the constraints imposed by Academicism in Europe or the limitations of metallic structure technology in the United States.