BA architecture classes/walking tours?


Apr 9, 2010
I love the mix of architecture here in Bs As, and would love to find a class or walking tour in English that covers different areas of the city. Previous searches have turned up nothing. Does anyone know of a group that already exists? I'm not looking for something private (and expensive), but rather a well-established forum for learning about the architectural history of the city. The more walking around the better!
There is a course that's in Spanish about the architecture of the city. I believe that it's at UBA. The (now deceased) brother of a woman I know used to teach it. I'm thinking that someone probably has taken his place, but I don't know for sure.

I also know of an Argentine girl who works as both restoring old buildings AND giving tours. She can go much more into the architecture of this city than I can. (Though I know an awful lot.) She is currently out of the country doing a 2 month restoration internship in the Netherlands, but will be back at the end of this month. She only gives private tours of 1 to ~7 or 8 people, she doesn't lead large walking tours that cost pesos on the dollar. But with a few friends, the tour could be quite manageable.
Robert Wright used to do walking tours- not sure if he is doing them again or not.
His site is a wealth of information about the city and its architecture.
He has a map of domes on top of buildings, and a map and book about the Recoleta Cemetery.

there is a tour of Palacio Barolo- and its available in English.
20 pesos, Mondays and Thursdays.

CP 67, the architecture bookstore, would be a good place to go ask- there is usually somebody there who speaks a bit of english, not sure how much the owner speaks, but he is VERY knowledgeable, and knows all the architects and architecture professors in town. Good selection of books as well.
Its on Florida, back in a galleria behind a travel agency and some leather coat stores, but well worth a visit.

I would recommend, for a bit of self guided touring, buying the Mimi Bohm book, Buenos Aires Art Noveau, and visiting all the still standing buildings in it- there is a section in the back of the book with english translations, and most of the buildings have addresses. Her Art Deco book is good, too. Not cheap, but wonderful books full of amazing buildings.

There are several great fan sites for argentine architecture, with photos, info, and addresses, one of the best is this one- all about italian architects-

One of my favorite argentine architects is Francisco Salamone- most of his buildings are in the province, not in the city, but there are a few in town.
I went on a walking with Robert. He's great, knows alot about the architecture and the history of the city. There is a wealth of info on his site. I'm not sure he is still giving tours. He moved away from BA. Someone told me recently he's back... So, don't know. Send him an email though. He's an excellent source of information on the topic. He might know of a group or class, etc.

I did the Palacio Barolo too. Also nice. Not worth $20 pesos though.... It should no more than $10, (IMO). But of course it's a private company doing the tours. So the sky's the limit as they say. I didn't like being up in the lighthouse! Someone less afraid of heights will really love the view.

I have the book Buenos Aires: 16 recorridos a pie - 16 city walks. It's more fun if someone tells you about what your seeing than reading the book! LOL. Thus have not made great use of it yet. Maybe someone else wants it?
This book-

Buenos Aires Cultural History- is not specifically about architecture, but is a great reference for walking the city- it discusses the history of various barrios and specific locations- where Borges lived, when, for example. Its very interesting to put things in perspective.

A couple more things to consider-

Ochavas- these are not unique to Buenos Aires- many Haussman era cities, like parts of Paris or beyond the diagonal in Barcelona, or even Washington DC, have some, but in BsAs, they were required by law for many years.

(an Ochava is when you cut the corner off an esquina, making an esquina not an esquina.)

Its turning a point into a line, and an intersection into a mini-plaza. Its a time honored historical trick of urban planners, and it humanizes a city. But it costs landowners money and land, so its rarely done in modern cities. But its one of the things that subtlely gives Buenos Aires character and charm.

Buenos Aires Photographer has some great Ochava documentation, and his site is great anyway.

but there is another site dedicated SOLELY to Ochavas-

The other key to understanding Buenos Aires from an architectural standpoint is Pulmones- which I have not found documented that much online. A Pulmone, literally, a "lung", is the again, legally required, open space in the middle of a quadra- the hidden courtyards in the middle of even the densest urban blocks. They are very Iberian/Muslim in their turning inward, and architecturally can be traced back thousands of years, but in the context of art noveau apartment buildings, they create secret, private spaces that are not visible from the street. I know my place would be nowhere near as nice without one.

Oh, and if you have not done it, or even if you have- there is no architecture walking tour in the world like walking Recoleta AND Chacarita cemeteries. Enough amazing design, stone, and metal work there to keep you learning for a lifetime. Chacarita is a hidden gem- its bigger, more peaceful, and less touristy and crowded than Recoleta, but has a lot of incredibly inspiring work in it. Plus, there is a cool feria on Saturday afternoons in the park outside, with everything from power ranger pajamas to incense to shoe repair.