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Architecture disrespect is a term I coined one day when I uploaded this photo to my flickr stream. It’s a picada, or sort of a snackbar at the corner of the Alameda (that’s Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins to you) and calle dieciocho (thus the nubmer 18 on the sign). What we have is a beautiful piece of architecture, beautifully tooled and detailed that’s been turned into an afterthought, a hat, if you will for a place to eat greasy sandwiches, wipe your fingers on waxed-paper napkins and drink a liter of beer at one sitting.

architecture disrespect

In my amblings about town, I soon realized that this was not the only gorgeous corner building in Santiago turned into something else.

Here’s another one, same main street but a few blocks west. Not quite as garish signage, but still kind of grumpymaking from the historical preservation front.


Then there’s this one, which I guess is a pretty good use of the space, signage not that egregious, though this building used to be blue before the Cruz Verde (literally: green cross) pharmacy moved in. On the Plaza de Armas, southeast corner.

architecture disrespect 2

And just so you know it’s not just Santiago, here’s an example from Valparaíso, down in the plan, not up on the cerrros where everyone will tell you all the beauty is, which is plainly not true. This is not far from the bus station, which I had thought was on Condell, but which Lydia was able to identify as being on Av. Uruguay. And she tells us (see comments) that it’s not alone.

Yellow building in the "plan"

And in case you thought this repurposing of gorgeous buildings for fast food joints an the like was limited to Chile, here’s a shot I snapped in downtown Montevideo (Uruguay).

streetscape, Montevideo, with McDonalds

But disrespect comes in many forms. You can let a building practically fall down, neglect it and build giant modern buildings beside it, like this one in La Paz.

regarding urban decay

Or, a continent away, you can take a beautiful, classically styled and built building, like this one in Oamaru, New Zealand and shine a kaleidoscope of colors on it so bright that it blinds nearby cyclists.

extreme architecture disrespect

On the one hand, I’m more of a watcher and reporter than doer. A friend of mine refers to my photographic style as “documentarian” (who knew I had a style, I thought I just had an itchy shutter finger), so I guess on some level, I like these contrasts, even though I find them aesthetically disturbing. So I probably won’t join any campaign to preserve, to fix, to prevent these advances. I’ll just quietly stand nearby, whip the camera out, click, and walk away. All you’ll hear is the velcro on my camera bag, and then I’m gone.