Bogota Architecture

The Architecture of Bogota is an interesting mix of the  Colonial, Republican, Modern and Contemporary.

Colonial Architecture

The city was planned with a typical  colonial grid based streetplan of grids of 100 meter by 100 meter. Constructed with its back to the Cerros Orientales (eastern ridge) around the central square (todays Plaza de Bolivar) where the most important public buildings have always been concentrated and where especially on the Calle Real (nowadays called Carrera 7 ) housing and commercial estates were developed.

Nowadays, some of of the buildings that you encounter in the Candelaria date back to this period, with a sober architecture, with limited use of ornaments, the roof-tiles of clay, and heights up to two floors, developed around various patios that could be central or lateral. To acces them you have to pass through a entrance hall connected directly to the first patio.

The typical colonial house is house of two floors with a tiled roof and a facade with eaves that protect the pedestrians from rain.  Other characteristics are that the houses had one or more patios. The first patio for gathering of the family and the second for some rooms and the servants of the household. Although the latter were concentrated primarily in the third patio that also served as orchard.

Amongst the most important buildings of the period are the churches of San Augustin &  San Francisco, San Bartolome College (el Colegio Mayor de San Bartolome) and the Casa de la Moneda (The Mint), to name just a few, that stand out as footprints of colonial days characterized by its simple almost country like design.

Republican Architecture

In the middle of the 19th century the architecture in Bogota changed fundamentally under influence from the independence from Spain headed by Simon Bolivar. In 1819  the city was a small compact city with around 30,000 inhabitants. The city didn’t grow much spatially, but what happened is that it densified by the subdivision of  lots and buildings that already were constructed in this way housing the rapidly growing population.

Some colonial houses were demolished and others were modified, adding decorative elements in plaster or forge, as well as details on the façades that facilitated the change in the urban image. During this period, public buildings were also built, mainly dedicated to government offices, as well as new spaces associated with the sanitation process, such as market places and commercial passages. This meant a break with Spanish architecture, seeking in this period the development of new architectural designs ​​influenced by architects from England and France, among others, who imposed new forms in architecture and urban aesthetics. At the end of the 19th century, in addition to the transformations in architecture, the first parks were erected: the Centennial Park (el Parque Centenario), as a tribute to the birth of Simon Bolivar and in the beginning of the 20th century:  the Park of Independence, to commemorate the centenary of the independence of Spain, both developed in the north edge of the city, in the sector of San Diego. During this same period, several tree-lined avenues were built, as spaces for rest and urban strolls.

Modern Architecture.

In the first three decades of the last century (1900-1930) another transition in architecture took place in the city. In some neigborhoods it was continued to built housing up to two floors with decorative elements of plasterwork and roof-tiles of clay. But on the other hand influences of the modern movement from the USA and Europe were adapted with the construction of buildings neighborhoods than 2 higher with details of styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Meanwhile the first city extensions were developed, creating new neighborhoods to the north, mainly La Merced, as well as other buildings outside  of the colonial boundary such as the Sabana Station, the Pasaje Hernández , The Church el Voto Nacional, amongst others.

In this period one of the most important contributions to the city  was made by the Austrian architect and urban planner Karl Brunner, who was in Bogota from 1934 to 1939. He developed Plan Bogotá Futuro, used for new extensions outside the compact colonial and republican city, which incorporating green areas, new roads and neighborhoods planned with the model of the garden city, which meant a breach with colonial and republican tradition, giving space to new urban experiments, both in planning and architecture. Important in this context is the National University of Colombia (Ciudad Universitaria) and Centro Nariño, as a model of modernism that prevailed worldwide, with tower and platform constructions, large green areas and simple geometries and style, while at the urban level are important to mention the construction of Avenida de las Américas, Park Way, Carrera 10 and Calle 26, which generated a new urban boundary and guidelines for the development of the modern city.

Contemporary Architecture.

In the last decades of the twentieth century, the use of exposed brick in the facades grew and became part of the design in all types of buildings, both residential, as well as institutional and commercial buildings. From this period stand out the Residences El Parque and the Virgilio Barco Library, both designed by the architect Rogelio Salmona, as well as in recent years other buildings such as the Memory Center (Centro de la Memoria)  and the sector of Ciudad Salitre, as a new reference on an urban and architectural level. Also, with the arrival of the Transmilenio rapid bus public transport system in the space around the bus terminals, new developments have begun to emerge, mainly on the axis of the 26th Street, with high altitudes and new materials, which are integrated with the existing built environment.

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