Thursday, 7 June 2018

Lima Art Deco

Lima, Peru's capital city underwent significant development during the 1920's and 1930's. The built heritage of that period included many art deco structures, primarily residential, middle-class homes but also public and commercial buildings including department stores and cinemas. Examples of the style can still be seen in several parts of the city. This post concentrates on the Centro Historico, rarely visited by tourists but full of impressive architecture and with a busy street life.

Edificio Santa Rosa
The architects working in the style including both native born Peruvians and European emigres. Augusto Guzman Robles was responsible for several buildings across Lima. Unfortunately, some of these have been demolished but Edificio Aldabas on Azangaro Avenue still survives. During my recent time in Peru, it had been painted white, covering an earlier orange incarnation. Designed as an apartment building arranged over three floors, it was completed in 1931 and was one of the first in the city centre to be constructed in reinforced concrete. The facade features both arched and rectangular windows and simple art deco motifs. The doors are especially attractive with decorative metal elements and cement fans above, but most of them are in need of loving care. The ground floor is now occupied by cafes and retail with what appears to be residential use above.

Edifico Aldabas, Augusto Guzman Robles, 1931
Also on Azangaro Avenue, Edificio Gildermeister stands opposite the Aldabas building. Built in 1930, it was designed by the German architect Lange Benno Werner.  Asymmetrical in design, it is much starker than its neighbour and runs to five floors with an end tower climbing to a sixth level. The lobby had a heavy security presence at the time of my visit but it was still possible to see what looked like a marble staircase, hinting at the original grandeur of the Gildermeister.

Edifico Aldabas
Edificio Aldabas
Edificio Gildermeister, Lange Benno Werner, 1930
Edificio Compania Peruana de Telefonos in Giron Antonio Miroquesada is an interesting example of a building with a facade remodelled into art deco style.  Built in 1929, the modification was the work of architect Ricardo Malachowski. Born in 1887 near Odessa, he completed an architectural degree in Paris before undertaking further studies in the same city at the School of Fine Arts. He arrived in Lima in December 1911 to work on a two-year project but spent the rest of his life in Peru designing several significant buildings including banks, embassies and palaces. His son and grandson, both named for him,  also became architects. 

Edifico Compania Peruana de Telefonos, remodelled by Ricardo Malachowski, 1929
Edificio Jesus Nazareno
Lima even has an art deco McDonalds. Edificio Jesus Nazareno in the same street as the Telefonicos building, is a huge structure, devoted primarily to residential use but with a branch of the burger chain on the ground floor. Unfortunately, as with much of Lima's art deco and modernism, it has proved difficult to find details of the architect or date of construction. There appears to be little information on the internet (at least that I can find). This together with the poor state of much of the Centro Historico's art deco and modernism may reflect a seemingly limited interest in the city's built heritage, albeit with notable exceptions. This is reflected in their physical condition whilst as in many other cities around the world, others have been  lost to demolition in favour of office blocks.




I plan to continue my research of Lima's wonderful art deco and modernist architecture and will update this post as I discover further details. If you know more about these buildings please let me know. My thanks to Juan Carlos Guerrero who identified the yellow building below as the former toy department of the famous Oechsle department store. In the meantime, a few more examples of my favourite style, without details...at least for the moment.

Former toy department of the Oechsle department store.
Modernist building Agenda Nicolas de Pierola
You can see more pictures from Peru here.

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