Vol 62, No 2 (2020): Public spaces. The Library
Minerva in the Pampa, Sarmiento in the temple. Popular libraries and architectural historicism in the southwest of the province of Buenos Aires at the beginning of the 20th century
Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, in Argentina took place the configuration process of the library system, initially encouraged by the State, based on the popular library as institution created, sustained and managed by civil associations. Linked to urban centers in frank expansion, these libraries multiplied throughout the national territory, especially those regions of the pampas that were favored by the implementation of the modelo agroexportador. The southwest of the province of Buenos Aires, recently incorporated into the state domain, was thus the protagonist of the proliferation and development of agricultural and commercial villages that sought to put on the same level their socio-economic advances and their cultural progress. In locations such as Bahía Blanca and Coronel Suárez, there was, consequently, an accelerated modernization in which the literate groups assumed an active role through the foundation of institutions for the promotion of the culture considered legitimate, which thus became brands and agents of change.
This paper intends to investigate the popular libraries of these two urban centers -Bernardino Rivadavia (1882) and Sarmiento (1915), respectively- based on the analysis of the architectural dimension of their institutional headquarters. In this sense, we propose to consider these buildings as polycronic cultural artifacts where different languages and temporalities were articulated in order to construct certains representations of knowledge, literate culture and libraries, as well as of the role that they would fit in the conformation of a modern city according to the patterns of European civilization. The eclectic historicism of the facades that transformed them into authentic temples of knowledge was then combined with the growing spatial rationalization required by the expanding reading public, the increasing bibliographic collections and the gradual professionalization of library practice. Likewise, the buildings were integrated into the urban framework, consolidating the distinction between a center of great symbolic power and a periphery destined, in particular, to the deployment of daily activities related to housing and livelihoods. The presence of Minerva, the roman goddess of wisdom and arts, on the facade of the Bahía Blanca’s library, works, as well, as an iconographic synthesis of the will of these institutions to be inserted into a Western tradition that would prestige their work but also confirm the progress of these lands.
Beyond the empirical contribution of the study of these entities, this article intends to introduce three considerations of general scope. The first refers to the active dimension of cultural artifacts in Latin American modernization processes; far from being mere evidence of the changes, these forms were active agents in them as they contributed substantially to changing the social and cultural experiences of city dwellers. The second question raises the need to consider architectural works as complex, historical and spatially contextualized objects. In this sense, it is considered that the study of buildings cannot be sufficient for itself or split from its articulation with the urban environment and with the function of the institutions they host. Finally, this work raises the need to problematize the totalizing historiographical accounts from the recovery of local and regional histories. The notion of policronia is revealed here more productive than that of anachronism, often used to talk about provincial contexts, while allowing to account for the selective appropriation of elements of existing cultural repertoires according to the possibilities and requirements of receiver societies.
Reply by Concha Díez- Pastor to Martín Domínguez Ruz and Pablo Rabasco
In November 2017 we published the article “Carlos Arniches. Architecture and documents ”(On the w @ terfront vol. 58, nº 1, of November 10, 2017) signed by Dra. Concha Diez-Pastor.
After its publication, we received a request for a right of reply from Martín Domínguez Ruz and Dr. Pablo Rabasco, which led to the publication of a new article, “The architects Arniches y Domínguez” (On the w @ terfront vol. 60, nº 10, of June 30, 2018). This article called into question some of the statements and conclusions of the previous article.
At the end of 2019 we received a request for a right of reply from the aforementioned author. In order to clarify positions, we will publish the aforementioned reply.
Full Text:PDF (ESPAÑOL)
Vol 62, No 1 (2020)
From public art to post-muralism. Policies of urban decorum in Urban Regeneration (II)
From drinking fountains to promenades. Water as artistic medium?
From drinking fountains to promenades. Water as artistic medium?
In From public art to post-muralism. Policies of urban decorum in Urban Regeneration (I) processes (Remesar 2019) when investigating the link of Public Art to urban Regeneration processes, we concluded that,possibly, the time of Public Art periclines and, for better or for worse, we enter a stage in which the socalled“urban art” reigns, specifically what we called post-muralism, a series of artistic practices that anchortheir development in the culture and experiences of graffiti.
The objective of this second part is to analyse the role that water has in the city, from the perspective ofits connection with the new types of urban spaces that will appear since the beginning of the modern era,
and its role in relation to the statuary, public art and landscaping. The research deepens the processes of aestheticization of cities that occur before the emergence, as a dominant paradigm, of the paradigm of the
To address this objective, we analyse how the fountains have gone from being mere artefacts to supply water to the city, to elements of urban composition and urban decorum. The article is divided into the
 Water in the square where the ways of supplying water are reviewed;
 Opening spaces for [almost] everyone where we study the emergence of new public spaces and the role that water plays in them;
 Providing water in which the role that fountains play as an interface with users is reviewed;
 Serial fountains: a first step in the democratization of art, reviews the important role of cast iron fountains as diffusers of masterpieces of art hidden in museums;
 Beyond utility. Water in the urban landscape, reviews how the emergence of public spaces such as parks will cause the use of water in a new, more monumental format.
To this section follows  Finally, public space for all [or almost all], which reviews the role of the hygienist model in the creation of new public spaces and the value given to water, recovering waterfronts (rivers , sea) and generating new public spaces such as “promenades”, “costaneras” or “malecones”. This section implicitly argues that the development of these spaces is linked to the urban patriciate as a ruling class.
 Finally Water as an urban spectacle, addresses the new model of water use in public spaces that the interests of the new urban service companies associated with the urban patriciate will ensure that it is massive and spectacular, associated with electricity as a new urban service.