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“Alma Brava” Residential Building

Quality (Re)generation

Mathias Klotz | Edgardo Minond | Germán Hauser | Daniela Ziblat

“Alma Brava”  Residential Building
By Luca Maria Francesco Fabris -

Gentrification is perhaps one of the most hotly debated aspects of urban and architectural planning. In Europe and North America, revitalization of poor, rundown areas still struggles to come to terms with the upshot of urban regeneration and the radical change it brings to the local urban fabric: the ousting of the area’s poorer residents, forced to move away simply because the neighborhood becomes unaffordable, only to shift the problem elsewhere, or bring to the surface new ones, like the need for new, affordable social housing programs in our strictly market-based economy. 

In other countries, such as China, gentrification has even coined a synonym: Xintiandi, the name of a central district of Shanghai where luxury housing and retail replaced the former lilong, the traditional populous neighborhood. Hugely successful, the Xintiandi district very soon became an economic model replicated in all major Chinese conglomerations. However, although social problems have arisen, they have been mitigated by local plans and policies to relocate those driven out, often with the creation of new satellite neighborhoods. 

In South America, urban regeneration is also a pressing problem. But there seems to be an attempt to tackle it differently, accompanying free-market demands with laws regulating revitalization programs, which, whatever the circumstance, shatter the previously consolidated urban fabric.

The residential building Alma Brava is an example of this policy, and the first project of its kind in the center of Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital. Located just outside the Ciudad Vieja, the central old town, in the Barrio Sur on the corner between Andes and Soriano streets, the Alma Brava condominium replaces a former construction on the same spot. It has become a prototype not only for its novel program but also for the quality of the construction. Designed by a group of four well-known architecture firms –...

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