Concrete Jungle

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

Santiago has many leafy residential areas where pedestrians can forget they’re living in a big city. The downtown area where I live is not one of those places. I send this missive from the NE corner of a 32nd floor apartment, where half a dozen apartment buildings are in various stages of construction within a two-block radius. Beyond the noise and dust this is a cool place to live: Rosas has a new bike lane and it’s inspiring to see more cyclists taking advantage of this novelty. Of course all this development comes at a price as the sad graffiti above illustrates: “they’re going to demolish me, help!”

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

Downtown Santiago is full of beautiful old buildings and this red one is of the best. It’s incredibly well-preserved and you can see it from a mile away: gorgeous brick red contrasting with white accents and green patina. Up close the craftsmanship is equally lovely, as you can see in the photo below.

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

Edificio Protección Mutua de los Empleados Públicos de Chile

But don’t get too attached. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, Big Red is scheduled to be knocked down to make room for another apartment building. To put it simply, though this building is categorized as a historic landmark it acquired this status after a real-estate company purchased it. This neighborhood is actually known for many successful facade adaptations: the mall where I buy my groceries is within a palace that used to be the home of El Mercurio. Who knows what kind of political maneuvers need to happen in order to save architectural patrimony and maybe this building just doesn’t qualify. Nonetheless it’s hard to see a perfectly sound structure get demolished just for another unimaginative apartment residence.

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