Open House Buenos Aires is back again for the fifth year running since its opening in 2013 as the first city in Latin America as an initiative to open some of the most prestigious, innovative, and beautiful buildings for free to the public.
In 2013 the committee managed to organize the collaboration of 54 buildings; this year, there are 120 buildings selected for their architectural value and their patrimonial and cultural importance (and some of them are just too quirky to not visit). Entry is usually impossible, restricted, or expensive, so this is an incredible experience to enter places that you may have only heard hushed whispers about.
I don’t know about anyone else, but perusing around someone else’s architecturally wacky casa is the kind of thing I get my kicks from on a sunny weekend in spring.
While they are all free, you do need to sign up to some of the buildings they’ve selected. You can register today (October 10th) from 9 PM onwards. Don’t dawdle – spots fill up fast! Once you make your selection, visit the Eventbrite and reserve your spot.
See below our list of the Top 8 Buildings you need to sign up for ASAP (Rocky).
Banco Hipotecario – Ex-Banco de Londres
In 1959 a contest was held to design the Headquarters of the Bank of London in South America, and the winning team was Clorindo Testa (an iconic Italo-argentine architect, 1923 – 2013) who created an extremely bold, beautiful building in the barrio of San Nicolás, surrounded by the Banco de la Nación Argentina.
The brutalist building does not look like any other architecture produced in the early 1960s: the curved, jagged, and perforated geometric shapes are far ahead of its time. It’s tucked behind two very narrow streets, Reconquista and Bartolomé Mitre, so the architecture actually makes the most out of this space and juts out – there is little division between the internal and external space as the perforated edges extend over the neighboring streets.
It’s well worth a trip downtown and is only one of the many possible buildings to meander around in San Nicolás on either of the days.
Reconquista 101, San Nicolás | Open: Saturday, October 27 & Sunday, October 28 from 10 AM – 4 PM
Centro Cultural Kirchner (Ex-Correo Central Building)
This central post office in Buenos Aires was first built in 1889 and was restored and transformed in 2015 into the Centro Cultural Kirchner, named after former president Néstor Kirchner. This avant-garde architectural structure inside somehow blends effortlessly with the 19th-century facade and exterior.
Its dome has become an emblem of the national civic space and is a symbol for the cultural past, present, and future. I include two pictures here which appear to not only be from different time periods but completely different galaxies: definitely worth a visit.
Sarmiento 151, San Nicolás | Saturday, October 27 and Sunday, October 28 – 12 PM – 5 PM |
Palacio de Aguas Corrientes
This is one of the grandest, most important buildings that you can access this year with the Open House event. It was built between 1887-1894 by Olaf Petrus Boye and his team to commemorate the installment of a modern water system. Prior to the late 1880s, Argentina was riddled with cholera and yellow fever due to a poor sewage and water system where flood waters contaminated homes.
This historic building was iconic in recognizing that Buenos Aires was transforming into a modern city. It is now the Museum of Water and Sanitary History, which may not have the coolest title, but it certainly is an extraordinary building.
Riobamba 750 | Saturday, October 27 – 3 PM – 7 PM |
Pasaje General Paz
In the countryside, chatting to your neighbors may be the norm; in fact, popping over to borrow an egg/ flour/milk/*insert food item here* is not only normal, but something anyone living in a village would expect. In a society where you skulk around your vecinos and avoid conversation at every cost, apart from the very rare verbal hate mail of telling them to turn their loud tunes down, this gorgeous block of flats aims to break down these barriers.
Architect Pedro Vinent constructed this building in 1925 and transformed housing into something more socially inclusive; he provided an integrated space where the backyard of your flat is mere meters away from your neighbor’s balcony. These three levels all have balconies that look over a shared patio; never has watering plants been such a social activity.
Ciudad de la Paz 561, Belgrano | Sunday, October 28 – 3 PM – 7 PM|
This stunning building is situated in the residential area of Coghlan and is architecturally pretty extraordinary. The 16 condominiums are built in two tall blocks and are linked by a common-use circular roof with a pool, garden with trees, and a courtyard. I would recommend traveling here to feel like a millionaire in a crazy cool house for the day. The views, as you can see, are pretty insane.
Washington 2729, Coghlan | Saturday, October 27 – 3 PM – 7 PM|
Vivienda Larralde 2763
This is another jealousy-fueling apartment block, with yet another fascinating common space linking the neighbors and pushing back against the individual nature that this city seems to have. This time, the building is nestled in the barrio of Saavedra and was built in 2014.
What makes this block so interesting is the use of bridges which link the blocks connected them to the lifts and the lower basement. They help the building appear as a sculptural piece; the beige tone of the concrete slabs also artistically camouflages the building, blending it into the background.
Larralde 2763, Saavedra | Saturday & Sunday October – 10 AM – 2 PM, 3 PM – 7 PM
If you’re still in the Coghlan neighborhood after your trip to Casa Washington, stay around for some brand-new architecture created by Grupo Uno en Uno earlier this year. This place really is a maze of stunning architecture, and it will also make you want to sell any organ possible to get a piece of this complex.
What really interests me about this building is the environmentally-conscious work that has gone into it; there’s a lot of green spaces including trees on top of the roof and green patio and terraces on each floor; there’s a recycling system (good lord! In Argentina?) and the rainwater and the air conditioner waste are reused to irrigate the green spaces on the block.
There are also other buildings that you don’t need to register for, you simply can turn up at the opening times on the weekend and immerse yourself in some extraordinary architecture. Some examples of these would include Casa Calise, a six-story Art Nouveau palace, built in 1911 by Virginio Colombo and recently restored in 2014.
This gigantic building has everything you never knew you needed in a home: stained glass windows, marble staircases, iron gates, solid oak flooring, and elaborate statues and ornaments everywhere and anywhere.