What is good architecture? More than two thousand years ago, Vitruvius would have answered that good architecture is that which contemplates three basic principles: firmitas (firmness), utilitas (utility), and venustas (beauty), as he described in his treatise De Architectura, and probably no one would have questioned it. Today, this broad question is capable of eliciting hundreds of answers, all personal and subjective, which have to do with the experience of each person.
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Much of the production of modern architecture on the American continent was based on the model of European architects who, with their works, projected the fundamental premises and ideas for modern living. These pillars of architecture were transferred and consequently adapted to the American territory, introducing, at the same time, their own characteristics according to the territorial, socio-cultural and economic context.
We understand that good architecture is that which serves as a model for solving problems inherent to the discipline of architecture in general. This is why certain references that we consider today as "classics" are examples of good architectural practices that have been appropriated by other architects, taking the pertinent and necessary elements to achieve a result in accordance with the particular context.
In the central Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, in a large lot between Austria Street, Agüero Street, and Del Libertador Avenue, stands the current building of the Mariano Moreno National Library, designed by architects Clorindo Testa, Francisco Bullrich, and Alicia Cazzaniga.
Built on the basis of the project that won first prize in a national competition in 1961, and completed in the early 1990s, it has become a landmark of modern Argentine architecture and an example of the variant of 20th century expressionism known as "brutalism".
Located in the city of Viña del Mar, Chile, the Conjunto Habitacional 7 Hermanas (7 Sisters Housing Complex) stands out among the urban landscape of Viña del Mar for its architectural qualities, colors, materials, and magnitude. When you look up, you can see between the leafy ravine that overlooks the Quinta Vergara urban park, the group of buildings located in the Forestal sector, which take over the slope and the plateau of the hill, crowning itself as one of the most important works of modern architecture in the region of Valparaíso.
The Teniente General Castiñeiras building stands on a triangular plot of land in the heart of Buenos Aires, one of the most emblematic of the city's modern architecture. Better known as the SOMISA Building, its origin was the result of a design competition for the design of the new headquarters of the Sociedad Mixta Siderúrgica Argentina company. The first prize was won by MRA+A, Mario Roberto Álvarez & Associates, and its construction began around 1966, with the works completed in 1977.
The Benedictine monastery chapel of Santa María de las Condes, visible from different points in the eastern part of Santiago, Chile, is a white volume, located halfway up the slopes of Los Piques hill.
Within South America, different dates have been established to pay tribute to and honour the career, life and work of architecture professionals. While in Uruguay it is celebrated every 27th of November in relation to the creation of the first Faculty of Architecture, in Brazil every 15th of December in homage to the birth of Oscar Niemeyer or in Chile every 4th of August for the founding of the College of Architects, the Argentine Federation of Architects' Associations (FADEA) kept the 1st of July to commemorate the Day of the Argentinean Architect, respecting the establishment of the International Day of Architecture, established by the International Union of Architects (UIA) in 1985.
Towards the end of the 1970s, the architectural office of Flora Manteola, Javier Sánchez Gómez, Josefina Santos, Justo Solsona and Rafael Viñoly (MSGSSV) together with Carlos Sallaberry began to devise the project for the Prourban Building, which would become one of the most emblematic buildings in the city of Buenos Aires and would be popularly nicknamed "El Rulero".
Located in a particularly natural setting in the city of Mar del Plata, the "Casa sobre el Arroyo" (House on the River) - known as the "Casa del Puente" (The Bridge House) - is considered a paradigmatic component of 20th-century architecture and an obligatory reference of the Modern Movement in Argentina and Latin America.
The house designed by the Argentinean architect Amancio Williams, commissioned by his father, the musician Alberto Williams, is constructed evidence of the capacity to establish a link between the modern rationality of human beings with nature and its topography.
Architecture Classics: Unidad Vecinal Providencia / Carlos Barella Iriarte + Isaac Eskenazi Tchimino
The Unidad Vecinal Providencia (Providencia Neighborhood Unit) is one of the many residential complexes generated in Chile as a result of a housing and urban development public policy promoted through the CORVI (Housing Corporation) between 1953 and 1973.
Commissioned by the Caja de Empleados Particulares (Private Employees Fund) to be built on a site where previously the National Children's House was based, the Unidad Vecinal Providencia was designed as a complex capable of becoming an urban piece, promoting spatial integration and social cohesion in Santiago.
After being shut down for more than a year, museums across the world are beginning to show signs of reopening. Most architecture and design events that were scheduled for 2020 have been pushed a year or two, depending on the severity of the pandemic in their respective regions. But while museums are open to the public once again, administrators have installed numerous precaution measures to ensure the safety of visitors and curators, and to avoid potential re-closures.
As international travels have been revived by government officials, and tourism is expected to recover gradually, read on to discover 18 museums and exhibitions that have begun welcoming visitors into their exhibition spaces as of May 2021, and the procedures required from the attendees before and during visitations.
This article was originally published on November 13, 2013. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.
Much of the spatial composition of the Villa dall'Ava was influenced by its site, in a garden on a hill. It was completed in 1991 in the residential area of Saint-Cloud, overlooking Paris. The clients selected OMA to design a house with two distinct apartments—one for themselves and another for their daughter—and requested a swimming pool on the roof with a view of the Eiffel Tower.
Venturi Scott-Brown’s National Gallery Sainsbury Wing extension (1991) was born into a precarious no-man’s land between the warring camps of neo-Modernists and traditionalists who had been tussling over the direction of Britain’s cities for much of the prior decade. The site of the extension had come to be one of the most symbolic battlefields in British architecture since a campaign to halt its redevelopment with a Hi-Tech scheme by Ahrends Burton Koralek had led to that project’s refusal at planning in 1984.
As one of the latest built works of acclaimed Pritzker architect I.M. Pei, Suzhou Museum was built in the heart of his hometown, Suzhou, China. As one of the last surviving modernists, the architect strove to bring together both his modernist sensibilities as well as the Suzhou vernacular. Sited on the northeast section of the historic quarter of Suzhou, the museum is adjacent to the landmarked Zhong Wang Fu, a complex of 19th-century historical residences, and the Garden of the Humble Administrator, a 16th-century garden listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 
Images in this article were captured in 2016 by Rome-based photographer, Chenxing Mi. Read the full article after the break.
The Teatro Oficina Uzyna Uzona, popularly known as Teatro Oficina, located on Jaceguai Street, in the Bela Vista neighborhood, in São Paulo, was founded in 1958 by José Celso Martinez Correa. The Teatro Oficina acts as a manifesto/theater, marked by great spectacles between theatrical expressions, musical presentations, dance, and performances.
Over time, the theater sought to revolutionize the performances that they put on. To this end, the architecture was designed to "collaborate" with the events, allowing the drama of the spectacle to engage more profoundly with audiences. Edson Elito, who would later instigate this reform, said [trans.]:
Last year saw the Alvar Aalto Foundation experience a record-breaking number of visitors at each of its four sites – a total of 42,755 as opposed to the 36,744 people that toured the sites in 2015.
Of those numbers, The Alvar Aalto Museum and the Muuratsalo Experimental House in Jyväskylä received a total of 20,005 visitors combined, half of which had arrived from outside of Finland to explore the Museum, while also continuing the recent trend of an increasing number of visits over the past five years.
Although societies have transformed through the ages, wealth never truly seems to go out of style. That said, the manner in which it is expressed continually adapts to each successive cultural epoch. As a consequence of evolving social mores and emerging technologies, the ideal of “luxury” and “splendour” sees priorities shift from opulence to subtlety, from tradition to innovation, and from visual ornamentation to physical comfort.
AD Classics are ArchDaily's continually updated collection of longer-form building studies of the world's most significant architectural projects. In these ten examples of "high-end" residences, which represent centuries of history across three separate continents, the ever-changing nature of status, power and fine living is revealed.