Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Somebody´s own dream castle

A beautiful sand castle. Picture downloaded from

There´s a house like a kitsch castle in a corner of Sunset Beach, a few blocks from our apartment. Every time my husband and me see it, we smile and say ¨somebody´s own dream castle¨. It looks like taken from a kid´s tale, worst of all, it doesn´t have land around, it is compressed in a small lot in front of the beach.
I think all architects in the world have at least once, met a client who brought his own drawings with the family´s ideas on them. Some clients are nice and recognize their limitations and that the architect is a professional. Some of them not, and I also heard ¨I´m paying here, so, it´s my decision¨. Now, would anybody explain to the doctor how he has to be cured? Architecture, interior design, even construction are full of people pretending to show they know about the subject, and it´s pretty annoying. 
I´ve found this story from the book ¨Amazing Stories¨, and the first chapter made me laugh, it reminded me some experiences in our profession:

¨This little guy Stoddard was one of the toughest customers I'd ever done business with. To look at him you'd think he was typical of the mild pleasant little sort of suburban home owner who caught the eight-oh-two six days a week and watered the lawn on the seventh. Physically, his appearance was completely that of the inconspicuous average citizen. Baldish, fortiesh, bespectacled, with the usual behind-the-desk bay window that most office workers get at his age, he looked like nothing more than the amiable citizen you see in comic cartoons on suburban life.
Yet, what I'm getting at is that this Stoddard's appearance was distinctly deceptive. He was the sort of customer that we in the contracting business would label as a combination grouser and eccentric.
When he and his wife came to me with plans for the home they wanted built in Mayfair's second subdivision, they were already full of ideas on exactly what they wanted.
This Stoddard—his name was George B. Stoddard in full—had painstakingly outlined about two dozen sheets of drafting paper with some of the craziest ideas you have ever seen.
"These specifications aren't quite down to the exact inchage, Mr. Kermit," Stoddard had admitted, "for I don't pretend to be a first class architectural draftsman. But my wife and I have had ideas on what sort of a house we want for years, and these plans are the result of our years of decision."
I'd looked at the "plans" a little sickly. The house they'd decided on was a combination of every architectural nightmare known to man. It was the sort of thing a respectable contractor would envision if he ever happened to be dying of malaria fever.
I could feel them watching me as I went over their dream charts. Watching me for the first faint sign of disapproval or amusement or disgust on my face. Watching to snatch the "plans" away from me and walk out of my office if I showed any of those symptoms.
"Ummmhumm," I muttered noncommittally.
"What do you think of them, Kermit?" Stoddard demanded.
I had a hunch that they'd been to contractors other than me. Contractors who'd been tactless enough to offend them into taking their business elsewhere.
"You have something distinctly different in mind here, Mr. Stoddard," I answered evasively.
George B. Stoddard beamed at his wife, then back to me.
"Exactly, sir," he said. "It is our dream castle."
I shuddered at the expression. If you'd mix ice cream with pickles and beer and herring and lie down for a nap, it might result in a dream castle.
"It will be a difficult job, Mr. Stoddard," I said. "This is no ordinary job you've outlined here."
"I know that," said Stoddard proudly. "And I am prepared to pay for the extra special work it will probably require."
That was different. I perked up a little.
"I'll have to turn over these plans to my own draftsman," I told him, "before I can give you an estimate on the construction."
George B. Stoddard turned to his wife.
"I told you, Laura," he said, "that sooner or later we'd find a contractor with brains and imagination."

From Rats in the Belfry. By JOHN YORK CABOT. In Amazing Stories January 1943.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Congreso ALTEHA HABITAR EL TIEMPO Y EL ESPACIO, Buenos Aires Argentina

18 y 19 de octubre de 2011 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Asociación Latinoamericana de Teoría del Habitar Regional Buenos Aires
Instituto de la Espacialidad Humana
Facultad de Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo
Universidad de Buenos Aires

Convocamos a este nuevo encuentro interdisciplinario a todos aquellos que, sintiendo que los involucra la temática directriz de este pre-Alteha, quieran postular ideas que colaboren a un enfoque que profundice estos conceptos. Tiempo y Espacio son dos campos problemáticos que han quitado el descanso a la filosofía desde los principios de los tiempos, y también a la física, la astronomía, a las artes y a todas las prácticas proyectuales. Tiempo y Espacio incorporados a la Teoría del Habitar –sobre todo en el ámbito latinoamericano– adquieren otras características y sugieren otras miradas.
El Tiempo Latinoamericano es distinto, se mide de otro modo y dictamina otro género de destinos, definiendo una identidad que se despliega y crece constantemente. El Espacio Latinoamericano es distinto al de otras latitudes, porque ya no es uno y tampoco son varios, son multitudes de espacios, y la identidad se define desde la tierra, o como un espejo en lo que esconde y dice la tierra, y se extiende en un territorio tan vasto y variado como nuestros modos de habitarlo.
Debe haber muchas palabras que permitan retomar una búsqueda que debe cobrar nuevamente un rotundo y poderoso sentido. Los esperamos.
Formas de participación
Participación como ponente:

Existen dos modalidades:

A–Ponencias: Presentación de resultados de Investigaciones, desde las sedes, cátedras y /o proyectos de investigación.

B–Póster: Presentación de trabajos que den cuenta de proyectos de investigación en curso desde las sedes, cátedras y / o proyectos de investigación. Formato: A0

En ambos casos quienes deseen participar enviarán (sólo por correo electrónico) a, un resumen de hasta 400 palabras.
En "Asunto" debe indicarse: "Ponencia" o “Póster” y apellido del primer autor.
La recepción de resúmenes se encuentra abierta hasta el 22 de agosto de 2011.

Los resúmenes (para ponencias y póster) contendrán:
Titulo: (en mayúsculas, centrado, con letra Arial, cuerpo 12)
Autor/es: (en mayúsculas / minúsculas, centrado, con letra Arial, cuerpo 11)
Pertenencia institucional: (en mayúsculas / minúsculas, centrado, con letra Arial, cuerpo 11)
Correo electrónico: (centrado, con letra Arial, cuerpo 10)
Palabras claves: (centrado, con letra Arial, cuerpo 10)
Resumen: (no deberá superar las 400 palabras, con letra Arial, cuerpo 10, interlineado simple justificado. El mismo no deberá incluir gráficos ni imágenes)
Modalidad de participación: (indicar ponencia o póster)

Participación como asistente:
Enviar por correo electrónico los siguientes datos:
Nombre, pertenencia institucional, dirección postal y electrónica a
En "Asunto" indicar "Asistente" y apellido.

Centro de Investigaciones del Habitar
Instituto de la Espacialidad Humana
Secretaría de Investigaciones
Cátedra Teoría del Habitar
Materia Electiva

Sede Asociación Latinoamericana de Teoría del Habitar
FAUD - UNSJ. San Juan. Argentina.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A video of Jane Jacobs. Her advice on the built environment of the city

Jane Jacobs, OC, OOnt (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American-Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning and decay. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.
Along with her well-known printed works, Jacobs is equally well-known for organizing grassroots efforts to block urban-renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, and after moving to Canada in 1968, equally influential in canceling the Spadina Expressway and the associated network of highways under construction.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From ¨The Zen Garden¨

Zen garden at Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino, California. My picture from May 2014.

Dry Garden in Ryoanji. Picture by Stephane D´Alu.

¨In recent, more popular books one often sees the Japanese garden explained as an expression of Zen philosophy. The idea that gardens express Zen is relatively recent; it is not found in the old Japanese garden texts, neither in the early twentieth-century literature on the garden art of Japan. The following pages address some of the more significant contributions pivotal in the establishing the "Zen interpretation" as well as my rejection of it.
A visit of the Garden Club of America to Japan in May 1935 generated great excitement on the Japanese side. It was a period in history when Japan was extremely sensitive to its relations with foreign countries, especially the United States. To receive the club an official General Reception Committee was formed with important politicians and government officials as patrons, perhaps because all club members were "ladies representing the best of America's cultured society".
From the Japanese side, a book on Japanese gardens was prepared for the occasion. It is Tamura’s Art of the Landscape Garden in Japan. It was edited in a luxurious edition with silk cover featuring an ink painting by Yokoyama Taikan to be presented to the club members. In the same year Loraine Kuck's One Hundred Kyoto Gardens came out. It is here that Zen comes to take a major position in the interpretations of Japanese garden art. Kuck focuses in particular on the stone garden of Ryoan-ji, and describes its Zen qualities, with the harmony of the balanced composition as a clue, as follows:
“In this harmony is found the real key to the meaning of the garden, the philosophical concept which the creator was striving to express. Minds unable to grasp this inner meaning have invented a number of explanations ... But students of real understanding realize that the aim of the designer was something far more subtle and esoteric than any of these. The garden is the creation of an artistic and religious soul who was striving with sand and stones as his medium to express the harmony of the universe ... (follows a discussion on the difference between the Oriental and the Occidental concept of existence. The Oriental supposedly sees
himself not as an individual at war with his environment but rather as fundamentally a part of all that is about him.) ... The (Oriental, wk.) artist, whatever his medium, is striving to grasp the essentials of his subject, the thing about it which is universal and timeless, and common to both himself and it (=the subject, wk.). ... The creator of this garden was a follower of Zen and an artist who strove to express it whatever his medium. The flowing simplicity, the utter harmony,rhythm and balance of the garden express this sense of universal relationship”
Seeing the small medieval garden as an expression of Zen philosophy became generally accepted in the following decades and is found in other publications of Kuck as well. The concepts "Zen garden" or "garden expressing (the spirit of) Zen" are common in today’s popular literature on Japanese garden art.¨

Ryoanji stone garden.

Zen garden. From

Zen rock garden. From

From: an abbreviated version of "The Zen Garden" as it was published in Themes, Scenes, and Taste in the
History of Japanese Garden Art, Gieben, Amsterdam, 1988. By Wybe Kuitert

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The decay of monuments

Mayan ruins at Xunantunich near San Ignacio. From
San Ignacio Ruins, Misiones, Argentina. Picture posted by Kelly Davico at

There is a comfort in the strength of love,
Making that pang endurable, which else
Would overset the brain—or break the heart.

The monuments which human art has raised to human pride or power may decay with that power, or survive to mock that pride; but sooner or later they perish—their place knows them not. In the aspect of a ruin, however imposing in itself, and however magnificent or dear the associations connected with it, there is always something sad and humiliating, reminding us how poor and how frail are the works of man, how unstable his hopes, and how limited his capacity compared to his aspirations! But when man has made to himself monuments of the works of God; when the memory of human affections, human intellect, human power, is blended with the immutable features of nature, they consecrate each other, and both endure together to the end. In a state of high civilization, man trusts to the record of brick and marble—the pyramid, the column, the temple, the tomb:

"Then the bust
And altar rise—then sink again to dust."

From: Visits and Sketches at Home and Abroad with Tales and Miscellanies Now First Collected Vol. III (of 3)LONDON SAUNDERS AND OTLEY, CONDUIT STREET. 1835.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vietnam, the new spot for Western architects

SOM has six projects in Vietnam, including Green Tech City, in Hanoi. The master plan features two villages and a lush park that will act as a sponge for rain runoff.
Perkins Eastman has conceived a 229-acre residential district that will be part of North An Khanh New City, a new mixed-use development in Hanoi designed to accommodate 30,000 inhabitants.
In Ho Chi Minh City, Carlos Zapata Studio and EE&K (now owned by Perkins Eastman) are working on a 7.5 million-square-foot development dubbed Ma Lang Center.

It might have been unthinkable as a place to do business just a few decades ago, when half of the country was at war with the United States. It doesn’t have the resources of China, its booming neighbor to the north. And its communist government might not appeal to citizens from capitalist nations. 
But quietly, Vietnam has in recent years become a hot spot for many Western architects, as work in their home countries remains elusive. About two dozen North American and European firms now have projects in the Southeast Asian nation, including Foster + Partners, HOK, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). And some are opening permanent offices there, according to architects working in the country.
Vietnam is “starting to dip its toe into the pool with more Western buildings, because it wants to make a mark on the international scene,” says architect Anthony Montalto, a principal with Chicago-based Carlos Zapata Studio. “There is definitely an opportunity to try something fresh.”
Two of his firm’s buildings — reportedly among the first by U.S. designers to be built in Vietnam — appear strikingly different from the low-slung and boxy structures in the country’s cities. Its 68-floor Bitexco Financial Tower, completed in 2010 in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), features a helipad jutting like a diving board from its glass-walled upper stories. And in Hanoi, the firm’s 450-room waterfront Marriott, which resembles a crooked horseshoe if viewed from above, is now under construction.
Many of the opportunities in Vietnam entail urban planning. Unlike buildings, master plans do not require collaboration with licensed local architects, perhaps making them easier for Westerners to take on, according to sources. 
Text and pictures references:

Monday, July 25, 2011

The symbolism of the storming and demolition of the Bastille

The Storming of the Bastille. Watercolor painting. 1789. By Jean Pierre Houël.

The notion of a respect for cultural heritage, especially one that lay outside one´s own tradition, was in large part an Enlightenment idea. But the Enlightenment also ushered in a new period of heightened destruction -the French Revolution- and new reasons for the demolition of monuments where their deliberate erasure took on an ideological flavour: this was an iconoclasm that was anti-clerical rather than intra-clerical. (...) In the Revolution, rationality was to replace superstition and divine right with equality. Many churches and cathedrals were desecrated and closed or turned into Temples of Reason. Manor houses, castles and abbeys burned. The storming and demolition of the Bastille (....) was an attack on the embodiment of royal authority. Teh Bastille prison was targeted despite holding only seven prisoners, none of them remotely political. It was a symbol of state oppression rather than a significant site of the practical exercise of that power.
The critic Georges Bataille went further, suggesting that monuments do not just symbolize an enemy but are in themselves the enemy:
It is obvious, actually, that monuments inspire socially acceptable behaviour, and often a very real fear. The storming of the Bastille is symbolic of this state of affairs: it is difficult to explain this impulse of the mob other than by the animosity the people hold against the monuments which are their true masters.
Tha Bastille´s stones were broken up and sold as souvenirs -secular relics almost- a commodification process repeated with the fragments of the Berlin Wall 200 years later.

Plan and view of the Bastille. From Project Gutenberg eText 16962.jpg From The Project Gutenberg EBook of Historical Epochs of the French Revolution by H. Goudemetz 

Introduction of the book The Destruction of Memory. Architecture at War. By Robert Bevan. Page 21. London, 2007.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Food trucks in the city

Food trucks in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta. Picture by Erik S. Lesser, for NYTimes

A couple of weeks ago, we were hired to prepare plans for a food truck. Basically, the plans are the same as any restaurant, showing all the equipment with the specifications, of course everything NSF approved and UL listed for those related to fire. Besides, there should be a plot plan or site plan with the location of the truck, the City must approve its parking. In our case, the truck is proposed to be inside a dancing club´s parking lot.
I understand for those who have a built restaurant is not a nice competition, but, if you eat from these trucks, you are aware of the difference. This is an excerpt from the New York Times, at least in New York, there will be hard regulations for truck parkings, and it seems good to me.

Now comes the modern food truck, where innovative cooks on a budget drive their kitchens around searching for what appears to be an endless supply of diners with Twitter accounts willing to line up for Korean tacos and salted caramel cupcakes.
What could be wrong with that? For some, plenty. From Los Angeles to New York, and Portland, Ore., to Atlanta, cities are wrestling with a trend now writ large on their streets, trying to balance the cultural good that comes with a restaurant on wheels against all the bad.
Yes, the trucks offer entrepreneurs a way to get started in the restaurant business. Yes, they add jobs and money to a city. The food is often innovative, relatively inexpensive and convenient. For those willing to stand in line and eat from a paper plate, there is usually a warm personal exchange when the meal is passed from chef to diner.
But many restaurateurs are sick of seeing competition literally drive up outside their windows.
“It’s ignorant of people in the community to think that buying from food trucks instead of from local restaurants doesn’t hurt the community,” said Melissa Murphy , who runs two Sweet Melissa Patisseries in Brooklyn. “There’s just not enough to go around right now.”Trucks present other problems. Streets clog. Parking disappears. The crowds and the diesel fumes that swirl around all those idling buses of gastronomy annoy the neighbors.
But civic leaders can’t ignore the trend, which is not going the way of raspberry vinegar. Like drive-throughs, which were the subject of many a city council meeting when national fast-food chains embraced them in the 1970s, food trucks are changing the way America eats.
(....) In New York, truck owners now face a ticket or a tow if they sell food from metered spaces. The Seattle City Council on Monday is expected to decide whether to unleash food trucks onto its streets with tight regulations on where they can park.
In Chicago, which appears on the verge of allowing something more than prepackaged food to be sold from mobile units, competition is the biggest issue. Although Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the trucks during his recent campaign, the alderman who heads the committee that will consider the proposal said it won’t pass without restrictions that would keep food trucks at least 200 feet away from restaurants.
In Raleigh, N.C., the planning commission approved new rules last week that would create similar restrictions, as well as prevent trucks from using amplified sound or dominating certain parking spaces.
Food vendors, surprised to find themselves civic parasites, are fighting back, pointing out that food trucks are a valuable urban amenity.
KEEP ON READING: (article by Kim Severson)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Life in the catacombs

Plan of the catacombs

"O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon.
Irrevocably dark, total eclipse,
Without all hope of day!"

"The vast numbers who dwelt below were supplied with provisions by constant communication with the city above. This was done at night. The most resolute and daring of the men volunteered for this dangerous task.(...)Of water there was a plentiful supply in the passage ways of the lowermost tier. Wells and fountains here supplied sufficient for all their wants.
At night, too, were made the most mournful expeditions of all. These were in search of the dead which had been torn by the wild beasts or burned at the stake. These loved remains were obtained at the greatest risk, and brought down amid a thousand dangers. Then the friends of the lost would perform the funeral service and hold the burial feast. After this they would deposit their remains in the narrow cell, and close the place up with a marble tablet graven with the name of the occupant.(...)
In many places the arches had been knocked away and the roof heightened so as to form rooms. None of them were of very great size, but they formed areas where the fugitives might meet in larger companies and breathe more freely. Here they passed much of the time, and here, too, they had their religious services.(....)Yet in that reign of terror the Catacombs opened before the Christian like a city of refuge. Here lay the bones of their fathers who from generation to generation had fought for the truth, and their worn bodies waited here for the resurrection morn. Here they brought their relatives, as one by one they had left them and gone on high. Here the son had borne the body of his aged mother, and the parent had seen his child committed to the tomb. Here they had carried the mangled remains of those who had been torn to pieces by the wild beasts of the arena; the blackened corpses of those who had been given to the flames; or the wasted bodies of those most wretched who had sighed out their lives amid the lingering agonies of death by crucifixion. Every Christian had some friend or relative lying here in death. The very ground was sanctified, the very air hallowed. It was not strange that they should seek for safety in such a place.
Moreover, in these subterranean abodes, they found their only place of refuge from persecution. They could not seek foreign countries nor fly beyond the sea, because for them there were no countries of refuge, and no lands beyond the sea held out a hope. The imperial power of Rome grasped the civilized world in its mighty embrace; her tremendous police system extended through all lands, and none might escape her wrath. (...)

A niche in the catacombs
A passage in the catacombs

Here, then, the persecuted Christians tarried, and their great numbers peopled these paths and grottoes, by day assembling to exchange words of cheer and comfort, or to bewail the death of some new martyr; by night sending forth the boldest among them, like a forlorn hope, to learn tidings of the upper world, or to bring down the blood-stained bodies of some new victims. Through the different persecutions, they lived here so secure that although millions perished throughout the empire, the power of Christianity at Rome was but slightly shaken.

Their safety was secured and life preserved, but on what terms? For what is life without light, or what is the safety of the body in gloom that depresses the soul? The physical nature of man shrinks from such a fate, and his delicate organization is speedily aware of the lack of that subtle renovating principle which is connected with light only. One by one the functions of the body lose their tone and energy. This weakening of the body affects the mind, predisposing it to gloom, apprehension, doubt, and despair. It is greater honor for a man to be true and steadfast under such circumstances than to have died a heroic death in the arena or to have perished unflinchingly at the stake. Here, where there closed around these captives the thickest shades of darkness, they encountered their sorest trial. Fortitude under the persecution itself was admirable; but against the persecution, blended with such horrors as these, it became sublime.
The cold blast that forever drifted through these labyrinths chilled them, but brought no pure air from above; the floors, the walls, the roofs, were covered over with the foul deposits of damp vapors that forever hung around; the atmosphere was thick with impure exhalations and poisonous miasma; the dense smoke from the ever-burning torches might have mitigated the noxious gases, but it oppressed the dwellers here with its blinding and suffocating influence. Yet amid all these accumulated horrors the soul of the martyr stood up unconquered.(...)
The constant efforts which they made to diminish the gloom of their abodes were visible all around. In the ancient world art was cultivated more universally than in the modern. Wherever any large number of men was collected a large proportion had the taste and the talent for art. When the Christians peopled the Catacombs the artist was here too, and his art was not unemployed. In these chapels, which to the population here were like what public squares are to the inhabitants of a city, every effort was made to lessen the surrounding cheerlessness. So the walls were in some places covered over with white stucco, and in others these again were adorned with pictures, not of deified mortals for idolatrous worship, but of those grand old heroes of the truth who in former generations had "through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens." If in the hour of bitter anguish they sought for scenes or thoughts that might relieve their souls and inspire them with fresh strength for the future, they could have found no other objects to look upon so strong to encourage, so mighty to console.
Such were the decorations of the chapels. The only furniture which they contained was a simple wooden table upon which they placed the bread and wine of the sacrament, the symbols of the body and blood of their dying Lord.(...)The walls carry down to later ages the words of grief, of lamentation, and of ever-changing feeling which were marked upon them during successive ages by those who were banished to these Catacombs. They carry down their mournful story to future times, and bring to imagination the forms, the feelings and the deeds of those who were imprisoned here. As the forms of life are taken upon the plates of the camera, so has the great voice once forced out by suffering from the very soul of the martyr become stamped upon the wall."
From The Martyr of the Catacombs. A Tale of Ancient Rome. by Anonymous

Christ with beard. From the catacombs of Commodilla.
Roman catacomb. Picture by tradition in
Rome catacombs. From

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Una muestra sobre la historia de Barracas, Buenos Aires

Iglesia de Santa Felicitas, en Barracas. Foto posteada por Magda Paladino en
Plaza España en Barracas. Imagen de

Comparto a mis lectores esta nota de Cynthia Palacios para La Nación:
Recorrer el sinuoso pasillo central del Hospital Británico es como caminar tres siglos de historia. Allí, el antiguo sanatorio y la Junta de Estudios Históricos de Barracas inauguraron la muestra "Contrastes de Barracas. Un recorrido fotográfico por su historia y sus tradiciones", que repasa la vida del barrio en imágenes.
La exposición fue ideada por el Hospital Británico, como un homenaje al barrio que acompaña sus días desde hace más de 120 años. Está dividida en ejes temáticos que desfilan por los capítulos más distintivos del lugar, como su vida social, las fachadas y los edificios históricos, entre otros. Todas escenas representativas que dan cuenta de los acontecimientos principales que impactaron en la vida de sus vecinos y que contribuyeron a formar una identidad propia.
La combinación de fotos históricas con otras más actuales muestran el contraste: cómo fue cambiando la fisonomía del barrio a través de los siglos. Basta de Demoler y Proteger Barracas, dos organizaciones que tratan de salvaguardar el patrimonio de la ciudad, acompañan al hospital y a la junta en esta iniciativa.
Las fotos exhibidas -muchas de ellas inéditas- pertenecen a varios legados, por ejemplo el Archivo General de la Nación, el Archivo Enrique H. Puccia, u otras que son propias del hospital.
El comienzo y el final de la muestra en el Hospital Británico marcan dos hitos históricos para el barrio: la inauguración fue el 1° de junio, porque ese día, en 1580, se fundó la ciudad de Buenos Aires, y el cierre se realizará el 30 de agosto, porque en esa fecha, pero de 1853, se creó el Primer Juzgado de Paz de Barracas al Norte, lo cual dio nacimiento al barrio.
"El barrio era muy distinto. Barracas era una zona de quintas de veraneo, con casas esporádicas, con una marcada diferencia entre dos clases sociales. En 1871, la terrible epidemia de fiebre amarilla azota el barrio y, en 1940, la gran inundación fue un momento dramático para la población barraquense", destacó Graciela Puccia, presidenta del archivo histórico que creó su padre.
Las imágenes más antiguas se remontan a fines del siglo XIX y principios del XX. "Se buscó plasmar desde lo embrionario de Barracas hasta la actualidad. Barracas fue uno de los primeros territorios que fueron habitados tras las dos fundaciones de la ciudad", señaló el gerente de Relaciones Institucionales del hospital, Sebastián Dates.
Barracas también tuvo gran influencia en la literatura. Los organizadores contaron que en sus paisajes transcurren El matadero, de Esteban Echeverría, y Amalia, de José Mármol. "Son fotos fuertes que sirven para entender el camino que, desde lo social, lo político y lo económico, nos transformó como sociedad", agregó Puccia.
La muestra se podrá visitar de lunes a viernes, de 12 a 18, en Perdriel 74. El hospital organiza visitas guiadas, especialmente pensadas para alumnos de escuelas primarias y secundarias del barrio. Las escuelas interesadas pueden llamar al 4309-6794 o mandar un mail a 

Basílica Sagrado Corazón, Barracas. Imagen bajada de

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A story of Lares, the ancient deities for houses´ protection

Household Lares from the House of the Vettius Brothers in Pompeii. From

In modern times, the word ¨Lar¨ is taken as a synonymous of ¨house¨. but this is the definition:
Lares (sing. Lar) – or archaically, Lases – were ancient Roman protective deities. Their origin is uncertain; they may have been guardians of the house, fields, boundaries or fruitfulness, unnamed hero-ancestors, or an amalgam of these. By the late Republican era they were venerated in the form of small statues of a standardised form, usually paired.
Lares were thought to observe and influence all that happened within the boundaries of their location or function. The statues of domestic Lares were placed at table during family meals; their presence, cult and blessing seem to have been required at all important family functions. Some ancient (and some modern) scholarship therefore categorises them as household gods. (from
There is a nice old story that I´ve read at Sacred and would like to share in my blog, ¨lassio¨ is the ancient form of ¨lar¨ and ¨lasii¨ is the plural:
Lasa or Guardian Spirit. From sacred

"There was once a great lord who was very rich, and he had a son who was a great prodigal--che sciupeva tutto il danaro. His father said to him, 'My son, I cannot live long, therefore I beg you to always behave well. Do not go on gambling, as you are wont to do, and waste all your patrimony. While I live I can take care of you, but I fear for you after my death.' After a little time the father died. And in a few days the son brought all to an end. Nothing remained but the palace, which he sold. But those who occupied it could not dwell there in peace, because at midnight there was heard a great clanking of chains and all the bells ringing. And they saw black figures like smoke passing about, and flames of fire. And they heard a voice saying:--

"Sono il Lasio,
In compagnia
Di tanti Lasii,
E non avrete mai
Bene, fino che
Non prenderete
Questo palazzo
A mio figlio.' 1

("'I am the Lasio,
And there are with me
Many more Lasii.
No good shall come to you
Till you restore
This place to my son!')

"So they gave back the palace to the heir. But he too was greatly terrified with the apparitions, and there came to him a voice which said:--

"'Sono il Lasio
Di tutti Lasii,
Son' tuo padre,
Che vengo adesso
In tuo soccorso
Purche tu m'ubbedisca,
Smetti il giuoco,
Altrimenti non avro
Mai pace--e tu
Ti troverai ancora
In miseria estrema;
Ma se tu m'ubbedisca,
Io vivro in pace,
E sarai tanto ricco
Da non finire
Il tuo patrimonio;
Anche divertendo te
E faccendo molto bene,
Ma prometté mi
Di non piu giuocare.'

("'I am the Lasio
Of all the Lasii.
I am thy father
Come to thy succour;
If thou'lt obey me,
Cease gaming for ever,
Or thou shalt never
Know peace . . . and thou
Wilt again find thyself
Stink deep in misery;
But if thou obey'st me,
I shall have peace again,
And thou shalt be wealthy
Far beyond measure,
Living in pleasure;
Only this promise me,
Never to play again.')

"Then the son answered:--

"'Padre perdonatemi!
Non giuochero pin.'

("'Father, forgive me;
I will ne'er play again.')

"Then the father replied:--

"'Rompi quante trave
Che son' nel palazzo
E piene di danaro,
Le trovarei,
Cosi starei benme,
Ed io staro in pace,
Nelle require
E mettermi. Amen!'"

("'Break down the beams
Which are in the palace
They are full of money,
As you will find.
Then I shall be quiet
In the rest of the dead.
There I go. Amen!"')

NOTE: break down the beams means to demolish the ceiling.

Roman mosaic at the house of Herculano, showing Lares, near Nápoles, Italy. From

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

ENR Call for projects in USA

Best Projects 2011 Awards program! We are seeking entries for our annual award program which is dedicated to honoring the best construction projects and the companies that designed and built them in all 50 states. Projects compete in 18 specialized categories, ranging from civil/infrastructure to green building.
An independent jury of industry leaders in design and construction will judge the projects using five criteria, including safety, innovation and teamwork. The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony later in the year and will be featured in the regional editions of ENR. As well, projects deemed best in category will automatically compete in the Best of the Best Projects 2011, a national juried competition appearing nationally in ENR. One project will be selected by the ENR editorial team as Editors’ Choice and given top recognition.
Entries may be submitted by any of the firms working on the project, but the most successful entries are joint entries incorporating input from multiple key team members, such as the design firm, contractor and owner.
DUE DATE: August 1st

The project must be built in the U.S. (all 50 states not including territories)
The project must be or will be completed between August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011.
A project with a construction-related fatality, regardless of contractor or trade, is not eligible.
Submitters may enter projects in only one category, but there is no limit to the number of projects allowed per submitting company.
Read more:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roman dedicatory and ephemeral verses on the built environment

Inscriptions on the Ark of the Bankers. From

¨In the last paper we took up for consideration some of the Roman metrical epitaphs. These compositions, however, do not include all the productions in verse of the common people of Rome. On temples, altars, bridges, statues, and house walls, now and then, we find bits of verse. Most of the extant dedicatory lines are in honor of Hercules, Silvanus, Priapus, and the Cæsars. Whether the two famous inscriptions to Hercules by the sons of Vertuleius and by Mummius belong here or not it is hard to say. At all events, they were probably composed by amateurs, and have a peculiar interest for us because they belong to the second century B.C., and therefore stand near the beginning of Latin letters; they show us the language before it had been perfected and adapted to literary purposes by an Ennius, a Virgil, and a Horace, and they are written in the old native Saturnian verse, into which Livius Andronicus, "the Father of Latin literature," translated the Odyssey. Consequently they show us the language before it had gained in polish and lost in vigor under the influence of the Greeks. The second of these two little poems is a finger-post, in fact, at the parting of the ways for Roman civilization. It was upon a tablet let into the wall of the temple of Hercules, and commemorates the triumphant return to Rome of Mummius, the conqueror of Corinth. It points back to the good old days of Roman contempt for Greek art, and ignorance of it, for Mummius, in his stupid indifference to the beautiful monuments of Corinth, made himself the typical Philistine for all time. It points forward to the new Greco-Roman civilization of Italy, because the works of art which Mummius is said to have brought back with him, and the Greeks who probably followed in his train, augmented that stream of Greek influence which in the next century or two swept through the peninsula.
In the same primitive metre as these dedications is the Song of the Arval Brothers, which was found engraved on a stone in the grove of the goddess Dea Dia, a few miles outside of Rome. This hymn the priests sang at the May festival of the goddess, when the farmers brought them the first fruits of the earth. It has no intrinsic literary merit, but it carries us back beyond the great wars with Carthage for supremacy in the western Mediterranean, beyond the contest with Pyrrhus for overlordship in Southern Italy, beyond the struggle for life with the Samnites in Central Italy, beyond even the founding of the city on the Tiber, to a people who lived by tilling the soil and tending their flocks and herds.

Inscription on Fabricius´ bridge. Google images

But we have turned away from the dedicatory verses. On the bridges which span our streams we sometimes record the names of the commissioners or the engineers, or the bridge builders responsible for the structure. Perhaps we are wise in thinking these prosaic inscriptions suitable for our ugly iron bridges. Their more picturesque stone structures tempted the Romans now and then to drop into verse, and to go beyond a bare statement of the facts of construction. Over the Anio in Italy, on a bridge which Narses, the great general of Justinian, restored, the Roman, as he passed, read in graceful verse: "We go on our way with the swift-moving waters of the torrent beneath our feet, and we delight on hearing the roar of the angry water. Go then joyfully at your ease, Quirites, and let the echoing murmur of the stream sing ever of Narses. He who could subdue the unyielding spirit of the Goths has taught the rivers to bear a stern yoke."
Excerpt from:
The common people of ancient Rome. Chapter II Their Dedicatory and Ephemeral Verses. Author: Frank Frost Abbott. New York, 1911

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Museo del Bicentenario, Buenos Aires

Picture from
Picture from

The Museo del Bicentenario blends history and modern technology in an elegant and conscientious way, deep under Buenos Aires’ Pink Governmental House. Its 54,000 square foot galleries stretch in and out of a bright and wide patio area and a beautifully-restored building.
The museum is settled within the city’s former fort structure, once used from 1580 until 1855 when it was then transformed into the site for Taylor Customs welcoming people and goods in from the Old World. From 1957 on, the structure served as the Governmental Pink House Museum, and now the building is the newly restored Museo del Bicentenario.
Designed by a group of engineers, architects, restoration specialists and the Federal Planning and Public Investment Ministry, many original features like old wooden beams that come out from the pink stone walls reminds visitors and the museum staff the importance of working with long-lasting sustainable materials, which at the same time, touch on the romance of the historic site.

Picture from
Article by Ana Lisa Alperovich


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