Daily Archives: March 10, 2017

Inside the vibrant suburb that looks like a video game: The $1million technicolour towers that are transforming a Bolivian city

Harriet Mallinson reports for MailOnLine and AFP:

Inside the vibrant suburb that looks like a video game: The $1million technicolour towers that are transforming a Bolivian city

  • Fluorescent-coloured walls tower for up to seven stories at an altitude of 13,000ft in the city of El Alto
  • Called ‘cholets’ by the locals they were built by the booming nouveau riche of the indigenous Aymara
  • Built in a new architectural style that has been dubbed ‘neo-Andean baroque,’ they cost up to $1million

Perched in the Bolivian highlands, enormous mansions exploding with colour like a scene from a peppy video game, stand out amidst the poverty.

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Built by the booming nouveau riche of the indigenous Aymara, their fluorescent-coloured walls tower for up to seven stories at an altitude of 13,000ft in the city of El Alto, a poor suburb above the capital La Paz.

Locals call them ‘cholets’ and they are built in a new architectural style that has been dubbed ‘neo-Andean baroque,’ with mansions costing up to $1million.

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Built by the booming nouveau riche of the indigenous Aymara, their fluorescent-coloured walls tower for up to seven stories at an altitude of 13,000ft in the city of El Alto, a poor suburb above the capital La Paz.

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They are typically mixed-use buildings with a blend of commercial properties on the lower floors – shopping malls, indoor sports facilities and ballrooms that look like Las Vegas casinos – crowned by a luxury penthouse for the owner.

Cholets are typically mixed-use buildings with a blend of commercial properties on the lower floors – shopping malls, indoor sports facilities and ballrooms that look like indigenous-themed Las Vegas casinos – crowned by a luxury penthouse for the owner.

These ballrooms can hold around 1,000 guests and charge up to $1,500 to host events.

‘Besides being clients, (the owners) are promoters of this new architecture,’ said Freddy Mamani Silvestre, the Aymara architect behind the cholet boom.

Mr Mamani grew up herding llamas with his five siblings in the small farming village of Catavi, where he would build mud birdhouses in the hills.
That creativity today drives what he proudly calls an ‘architectural revolution that transcends borders.’

‘I’ve broken the old architectural canon, and yes, I’m a transgressor,’ said the architect, who does not like the word ‘cholet’ to describe his work.

‘They’re a polychromatic colour gradient. We try to search for our essence, our own culture by applying vibrant colours,’ Mamani continued.

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El Alto is located next to La Paz, Bolivia and is the highest major metropolis in the world.

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Locals call these towering mansions ‘cholet’ and they incorporate indigenous architecture into their design.

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Built in a new architectural style that has been dubbed ‘neo-Andean baroque,’ they cost up to $1million.

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‘Besides being clients, (the owners) are promoters of this new architecture,’ said Freddy Mamani Silvestre, the Aymara architect behind the cholet boom.

Mamani grew up herding llamas with his five siblings in the small farming village of Catavi, where he would build mud birdhouses in the hills

‘In Andean culture, we say that everything has life,’ said Mr Mamani.
‘Our buildings must also have life. What does that mean? It means they have to generate income.’

The growing prevalence of these mansions is a sign of the changing times in Bolivia, where indigenous people have gone from being a silent majority long marginalised from the worlds of politics and business – to major players on the national scene.

The mansions sprung up in tandem with an economic boom presided over by Evo Morales, who took office as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006. During his first two terms there was average economic growth of more than five percent a year.

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These ballrooms can hold up to 1,000 guests and charge up to $1,500 to host events.

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‘I’ve broken the old architectural canon, and yes, I’m a transgressor,’ said the architect, who does not like the word ‘cholet’ to describe his work. ‘They’re a polychromatic colour gradient. We try to search for our essence, our own culture by applying vibrant colours’

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The growing prevalence of these mansions is a sign of the changing times in Bolivia, where indigenous people have gone from being a silent majority long marginalised from the worlds of politics and business – to major players on the national scene.

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The cholets – with their vast and decadent function rooms – sprung up in tandem with an economic boom presided over by Evo Morales, who took office as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2006.

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During Morales’s presidency, increasing numbers of his fellow Aymara have accumulated fortunes in industries such as mining, retail and transport that they are now using to build sumptuous mansions that are reshaping the country’s architecture. [the informal economy has brought this wealth to surface and of course the Aymara ethnicity had this style as a preference … they are the Phoenicians of this new world … informal also means activities like smuggling and narcotraffick; it means economic activity where you do not pay taxes over your earnings, certainly a good portion goes to bribes, to expedite the matters … but at the end of the day they are a result of anarchy, a result of the pernicious, ochlocrat government of the coca grower caudillo that became president of this country!]

During Morales’s presidency, increasing numbers of his fellow Aymara have accumulated fortunes in industries such as mining, retail and transport that they are now using to build sumptuous mansions that are reshaping the country’s architecture.

But outside this stretch of vibrant mansions, El Alto remains largely poor.
Of its nearly one million inhabitants, roughly half live in poverty. [these new rich are the ones who control most of their surroundings neighbors, either by family relation, trade or friendship; the rest of the populace go on strikes and blockades, being manipulated by  the political parties, for the last 15 years, the MAS had total ethnical control of these large group. These people despise the white/mestizo rich but they do not dare to express the same feeling with these cholet owners, so the question is if they are using reverse racism or just playing along the moves of the populist leaders ,,,]

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-4274424/The-colourful-Bolivian-town-looks-like-video-game.html