Buenos Aires – Recoleta – a Brutalist Biblioteca in La Isla

La Isla is a small area of land in Recoleta, between Las Heras, Pueyrredón and Libertador avenues and Agüero street, just to the north west of the Cementerio de la Recoleta. The land is mainly occupied by government agencies and public squares like Plaza Mitre but the few blocks of real estate command some of the highest prices in Buenos Aires (my map here).

One of the public buildings here is the national library, the Biblioteca Nacional Mariano Moreno, which is a classic example of Brutalist architecture.

It was designed in 1961, although construction did not begin until 1971, and it wasn’t inaugurated until 1992 due to bureaucracy and official indifference.

The architects were Clorindo Testa, Francisco Bullrich and Alicia Cazzaniga. Testa in particular is considered to be one of the leaders of the Rationalist movement in Argentina and a pioneer of Brutalism in the country.

The idea was to create a ‘monumental table’ where the reading rooms were raised above ground, and the books were stored underground.

The design employs lots of exposed concrete and angular geometric shapes, typical features of Brutalism.

The buildings and green areas around the library create a frame for it.

The library is not to everyone’s taste admittedly but I appreciate it as someone who has grown up surrounded by Brutalist structures (cf this post), I feel a certain affinity for it.

The library was closed on the Sunday I went so sadly I couldn’t look inside, but it made for a pleasant walk from my hotel in Palermo. There are lots of spots where you could relax and read while enjoying the sunshine.

Off to Chinatown next!

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