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Clorindo Testa: The Latest Architecture and News

AD Classics: Bank of London and South America / Clorindo Testa + SEPRA

This article was originally published on October 19, 2015. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

The Bank of London and South America (Banco de Londres y América del Sud, or BLAS) in Buenos Aires defies convention and categorization, much like the architect primarily credited with its design, Clorindo Testa. A unique client relationship, guided by the bank’s staff architect Gerald Wakeham, and a supportive collaboration with the firm Sánchez Elía, Peralta Ramos and Agostini (SEPRA) resulted in a building that continues to evoke surprise and fascination.

The Importance of the Section in Architectural Representation and Practice

Architectural comprehension as a field deals with representation as a synthesis of varied efforts - constructive, compositional, spatial, and technical qualities - which are then articulated in the constructed building. For this purpose, it is essential to think about the graphic representation that presupposes all these efforts, since it is both a procedure and a product of architectural design.

Protection and Preservation Policies are Fundamental for the Rescue of Abandoned Architecture in Argentina

It is difficult to forget about the demolition of Clorindo Testa’s Commissariat of Santo Pipó and with it, the demolition of part of the Argentine architecture.

With the objective of addressing issues related to the rescue and protection of the forgotten and deteriorated buildings, the MMM3 (Modern Movement in Missions) of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (UNaM) held an exhibition on October 31 in the locality of A. Del Valle.

The exhibition is part of the 60th anniversary of other works of the architect in the Argentine northeast: the Tourist Paradores, three buildings located in A. del Valle, San Ignacio and San Pedro product of the architects Boris Davinovic, Augusto Gaido, Francisco Rossi and Clorindo Testa. 

Spotlight: Clorindo Testa

Bank of London and South America. Image © Federico Cairoli
Bank of London and South America. Image © Federico Cairoli

Relatively unknown outside his home country, Clorindo Testa (December 10, 1923 – April 11, 2013) was one of Argentina’s most important 20th-century architects. Consistently defying categorization, Testa had a hand in two of Buenos Aires’ most iconic buildings, the Bank of London and South America, and the National Library, as well as many others throughout his long career. Characteristically enigmatic, Testa would only ever acknowledge Le Corbusier as an influence, saying, “I never paid attention to other architects.” As a former colleague Juan Fontana described, Testa spoke the language of brutalism with an Argentine accent.

The Guardian's Rowan Moore Names 10 Best Concrete Buildings

“Concrete has the ability to be primitive and technological, massive and levitating, to combine the properties of steel with those of mud,” says Rowan Moore in his list of The 10 best concrete buildings created for The Guardian. Through examples spanning three continents, Moore unites old standbys with unexpected wonders, all of which show the varied possibilities inherent in mixing water, aggregate, and cement. In a list that incorporates examples from Classical times to the present, Moore establishes concrete’s unique ability to adapt to different times, styles, applications, and treatments.

Examples by Le Corbusier, Álvaro Siza, Lina Bo Bardi, and Marcel Breuer demonstrate that concrete is anything but workaday or utilitarian. Moore’s list affirms that a material simultaneously strong and light, durable, sustainable, and fire-resistant, can scarcely be considered anything short of miraculous. Of course, ten buildings can only provide an abridged version of concrete’s possibilities, and Moore cheekily apologizes for some of the obvious omissions. Check out the full list here.