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TU Berlin

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Marco Paladines

Graduate Student

Technische Universität Berlin
School VI: Planning Building Environment
Department of Sociology

Fraunhoferstraße 33-36
Sekretariatszeichen FH 9-1
10587 Berlin

Tel.: +49 (0)30 314 27303
Room: FH 822

Research Project

Growing Buildings in Bolivia: Following the Lines of the New Andean Architecture 

The New Andean Architecture in the city of El Alto, Bolivia, is becoming growing attention from media, artists and researchers worldwide. Either celebrated as Bolivia’s authentic Aymara architecture or downplayed as kitschy and tasteless, this architecture is the object of numerous and passionate controversies among architects, social scientists and in the public sphere. At the same time, it provides a deep insight into the economic, political and cultural transformations that one of the poorest American nations has been experiencing in the last fifteen years. The colorful and magnificent style of the interiors, the playful combination of traditional indigenous patterns with innovative architectural concepts, and the social significance that these buildings are becoming, are some of the aspects that call for a study of this original architectonical movement that is changing the power relations and the urban space in El Alto.

On the basis of interviews and a participatory photographic process, this dissertation project aims to clarify, on a first step, which kind of resources (e.g. material, technical, political, bureaucratic, artistic, economical) were and are still mobilized, which in their specific configuration and distribution allowed these new buildings to exist. Secondly, we will try to sketch out, which transformative effects are to be noticed in the taste perceptions, urban imaginaries and social orderings of prestige directly affected by the New Andean Architecture, mainly by situating these effects in the context of identity and class politics, municipal legislation, the development of the real estate market and the change of creativity regimes. Finally, given our understanding of architecture as a medium in which societies generate for themselves specific forms with distinctive material, functional, aesthetic and communicative qualities, we inquire the possible valuations and meanings that arise from the semiotic analysis of the buildings in combination with the self-interpretation by key actors.

Areas of Research

  • Sociology of Creativity, Sociology of Architecture
  • Social Theory, Social Anthropology
  • Decolonial Ethnography



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