Buenos Aires is Argentina’s capital and most populated city. The city sits on the southeastern coast of South America, on the west side of the Rio de la Plata. Buenos Aires means ‘fair winds’ or ‘good airs’, although the former name is ‘Real de Nuestra Señora Santa María del Buen Ayre’, named after the Madonna of Bonaria in Sardinia, Italy. It is often referred to as ‘B.A.’ or ‘BA’. Buenos Aires is renowned for its conserved European architecture and vibrant cultural life. Buenos Aires held the first Pan American Games in 1951 and two sites for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. The city recently hosted the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics as well as the 2018 G20 Summit.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet1
Aerial view of Buenos Aires City with Obelisk and Avenida 9 de julio_©Worldstrides.com- worldstrides.com

The capital of Argentina is a multicultural city with a wide population of ethnic groups and religious customs, all of which contribute to the city’s culture and accent. As the city as a whole has been the prime destination for millions of immigrants from all over the world since the 19th century, it has evolved into a melting pot where people of different ethnic groups coexist. BA is considered one of America’s most diverse cities.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet2
City’s identity_©Somethingoffreedom.com- somethingoffreedom.com

Origins and History of Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires was formed twice during its early years. It was christened Nuestra Senora Santa Maria del Buen Aire by an army commander when it was founded in 1536. After dismantling the city on the Riachuelo Riverbank in 1580, Juan de Garay renamed it Ciudad deTrinidad. BA has grown modestly over about two centuries.BA became the capital of the Rio de la Plata in 1776.

Argentina was swamped by uncontrolled waves of European immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, considerably increasing the country’s population.The city’s population nearly doubled from 24,000 in 1778 to 42,500 in 1810. The next decade’s happenings emphasized the schism between the city and the rest of the region. The city’s middle class was pushed out of the city and into adjacent counties by the immigrants. BA’s political class intended to transform the city into South America’s Paris. In the early 2000s, BA was severely harmed by Argentina’s ailing economy. By 2004, BA had recovered from the economic crisis and was experiencing a boom in its economy. BA has the highest living costs in Latin America, because of its distinctive style of life focused on large ranches and smuggling.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet3
Plaza de Mayo(public square) with Casa Rosada_©IIstockphoto.com- media.istockphoto.com

Issues in Buenos Aires City

Slums ranging in size from small clusters of fragile structures to vast communities with thousands of occupants are known as villas miserias. Mud and wood are used to construct houses in rural villas miserias. Miseria villas may be located in and around major cities in Argentina, such as Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba, and Mendoza, to name a few. There are a total of 4,228 miseria villas throughout the nation. In the Buenos Aires suburbs, there are about 1,600 green spaces, in Buenos Aires it is 90 percent lower than in New York, 85 percent lower in Madrid, and 80 percent lower in Paris. The World Health Organization (WHO) produced a paper proposing that every city has at least 9 square meters of green space per person, with an ideal quantity of land per person ranging between 10 and 15 square meters.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet4
City’s shantytowns_©Ft.com- www.ft.com

Buenos Aires’ Culture

In Latin America, Buenos Aires boasts the most vibrant live theater culture. After being certified as a City of Design in 2005, it became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The Kirchner Cultural Complex in Buenos Aires is the third-largest cultural center in the world. BA has a vibrant cultural environment, with museums ranging from obscure to world-renowned. Buenos Aires, being one of Latin America’s major publishing centers, has a varied range of publications, including several in foreign languages.Throughout the city, there are hundreds of bookstores, libraries, and cultural institutes.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet5
El Ateneo Grand Splendid_©Somethingoffreedom.com- somethingoffreedom.com

In Buenos Aires, daily life is typically focused on the local neighborhood, the city center, and major amusement and entertainment districts, such as the Calle Lavalle downtown area. Since the 1980s, North American influences in fast food, fashion, and music have influenced the city’s dynamic culture. Political turbulence has had a significant impact on the capital’s cultural life. It has established itself as a major center for contemporary street art, and its open-minded attitude has contributed to its status as one of the world’s most creative cities.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet6
San Telmo Market_©Careergappers.com- careergappers.com

Buenos Aires’ City Planning

The city of BA is situated on the northeastern side of the Pampas, a flat plain. It is located where the Parana River delta spreads and becomes the Ro de la Plata estuary. The city is split into sectors, most of which correspond to historic barrios. An obelisk, constructed in 1936, symbolizes the intersection of Avenue 9 de Julio and Avenue Corrientes, named the world’s largest avenue. Palmo, like Monserrat and Puerto Madero, is one of BA’s most distinct neighborhoods. The Puente de la Mujer pedestrian suspension bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is named after significant women in the neighborhood. Abasto, located west of Avenida 9 de Julio, are classic working neighborhoods. The majority of the city’s shantytowns are located on the outskirts, where they have a more typical Latin American vibe. Suburban residents are frequently less well-off than city dwellers, and the further a suburb is from the city, the less likely it is to have critical utilities and economic opportunities.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet7
Buenos Aires Skyline_©Netdna-ssl.com

Architecture of Buenos Aires

The architecture of Buenos Aires is entirely influenced by European styles. Colonial, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Neo-Gothic, and French Bourbon were influenced by Italian and French styles. In the 1930s, Argentina’s “Infamous Decade” led to a drive toward more contemporary architectural styles. After World War II, International Style Modernism became the dominant architectural style in the country. In the 19th century, the basic dwelling was a two-and-a-half-story villa that was neither as broad nor as wide as its predecessor. The first generation of high-rise apartment complexes that today dominate Palermo, Recoleta, and Retiro were built one after the other in the city’s northern sector, stretching for block after block. The corrugated metal shacks are characteristic of the shantytowns that have grown to account for a sizable portion of the housing in the metropolitan region and are home to a sizable proportion of the population. Suburban estates initially appeared in the late 1980s, as city highways increased and automobiles became more readily available, making travel more feasible. Three styles dominate Buenos Aires: Neoclassical/Beaux-Arts, Art Nouveau, and Art Deco/modern. The following are a few architectural styles that are found in BA.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet8
Buenos Aires Architectural Styles_©Adam-David. me-  www.adam-david.me

Spanish Colonial and Neo-Colonial Style

Buenos Aires’ earliest buildings are of the Spanish colonial style, though only a few of these structures exist in the city. Following independence from Spain, colonial architecture went out of favor, with the 19th century bringing in designs associated with the French Republic and democratic principles. On the country’s centennial, a modest architectural trend emerged that aimed to re-establish a relationship with the country’s Spanish history. Contemporary forms combine aspects of colonial architecture with Baroque and Moorish revivalism.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet9
Casa Ricardo Rojas_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Neoclassical Style

The neoclassical tendency of the mid-eighteenth century, connected with the European Renaissance, gave rise to neoclassical architecture. There was a significant rise in understanding of ancient Greek and Roman architectural styles throughout this period. A neoclassical structure, in its idealized form, harkens back to ancient Greece or Rome. Neoclassicism was both an expression of American independence and a repudiation of Spanish control. This design was meant to link the Republic to France, which was seen as an example of enlightened governance and Republican values. Buenos Aires’ region around Avenida de Mayo is a prominent example of neoclassical architecture.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet10
Palacio del Congreso_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Beaux-Arts Style

In the 1830s, the Académie des Beaux-Arts established the Beaux-Arts movement in Paris. Famous university scholars stressed neoclassical principles while using contemporary building materials and Gothic and Renaissance architectural aspects. While the movement was widespread in Europe until the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was especially prominent in Buenos Aires. The Vatican embassy, the Palacio Fernández Anchorena, is a magnificent example of Beaux-arts architecture. The Palacio San Martin, a beautiful edifice with column reliefs and rusticated brickwork, currently houses the country’s Ministry of Foreign Relations. Even though the fundamental design remains the same, this version has more decoration than previous versions.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet11
Palacio Anchorena_© Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Art Nouveau Style

Art Nouveau is a European architectural and design style that flourished between 1890 and 1910. Several regional threads developed, with bases in Belgium, France, Catalonia, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Scotland. Its purpose was to incorporate art into daily life by embedding it in the surroundings we live in. Art Nouveau architecture’s emphasis on form and color represents the movement’s desire to elevate the material world into an aesthetic experience. The most obvious example of this is the whiplash pattern, which is most commonly shown through bending wrought iron that is often seen externally on buildings, either on balconies or doors. This structure is adorned with appealing depictions of flowers, animals, and sensual females with flowing hair in response.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet12
Hotel Chile_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Art Deco Style

Art Deco was a response to Art Nouveau, rejecting many of the latter’s distinguishing ideas. The aesthetic styles that evolved in Paris at the turn of the century influenced it. During the Roaring ’20s, Art Deco buildings embodied elegance and luxury, displaying optimism and enthusiasm about modernity and the future. During the Depression Era of the 1930s, structures became less grandiose, but new materials like chrome plating, stainless steel, plastics, and neon lighting were utilized. Many buildings were painted white or in subdued colors. The Teatro Empire was one of the first examples of Art Deco in BA, with its unique vertical orientation and strong use of sharp geometric motifs. Strong lines and projecting zigzag patterns frame the first-floor balcony.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet13
Teatro Empire_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Modern / International Style

With the outbreak of World War II, a new style of architecture emerged as the dominant style in Europe. The modern architectural movement embraced mass production and industrial materials such as iron, glass, and concrete while developing new approaches to the conception of space. The movement’s driving philosophy was functionalism, which held that buildings should be created largely for their intended use. This corresponded with the formation of the architectural firms Sepra and Grupo Austral. Many of them are transitional, illustrating the transition from art deco to the more mature period of modern/international structures prevalent from the 1960s onwards.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet14
Edificio YPF_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me

Eclecticism Style 

Buenos Aires is overflowing with a diverse mix of architectural styles and influences. The Palacio de Aguas Corrientes, a local landmark, is an unusual mix of Beaux-Arts and Victorian architecture. In the first sense, “eclecticism” refers to structures that may integrate a variety of methods or features of 20th-century styles (such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, or modernism), but which do not easily fit under a single architectural style. In the case of Buenos Aires, this illustrates an era when both revivalist and early modern styles flourished concurrently and were frequently used to differing degrees in the same structure. Palacio Barolo, a masterpiece created to serve as a metaphor for Dante’s Divine Comedy, is one example.

Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet15
Palacio Barolo_©Adam-david.me- www.adam-david.me
Architecture of Cities: Buenos Aires- Latin America's most important ports - Sheet16
Buenos Aires (Paris of the South)_©Goway.com- blog.goway.com

Buenos Aires is alive with dazzling, enticing energy. BA is more vibrant, secure, and exciting than ever before. This vast South American city is divided into areas that combine European and South American features. BA, known as the “Paris of the South,” has world-class architecture, international cuisine, exciting entertainment, world-class shopping, and much more. Watching the enticing Tango, which is an intrinsic part of the culture, and is one of BA’s attractions. Football is popular in the bustling La Boca region. Visit the Evita Museum in Palermo to witness her exquisite costumes, as well as her novels and movies. Buenos Aires has enough to provide for everyone, young & old equally. If you are a connoisseur of art, architecture, and ambiance, this city has a lot more to offer.


  1. Adam David. (2020). Architectural Styles of Buenos Aires: An overview. [online] Available at: https://www.adam-david.me/architectural-styles-buenos-aires-overview/
  2. Holmes, L. (n.d.). 20 Must-See Buenos Aires Landmarks. [online] Architectural Digest. Available at: https://www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/20-must-see-buenos-aires-landmarks
  3. The World from PRX. (n.d.). A detective’s guide to Buenos Aires architecture. [online] Available at: https://theworld.org/stories/2010-01-22/detectives-guide-buenos-aires-architecture
  4.  www.britannica.com. (n.d.). Buenos Aires – The arts | Britannica. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/place/Buenos-Aires/The-arts

Subhashinee is an Architect, Researcher, and Stereotype breaker. Deeply passionate about sustainability and environmental psychology. She is curious to learn new things in life that enhance her. An avid observer, she prefers writing over speaking. She believes that architectural journalism is as important as architectural design, as it binds knowledge providers with seekers.