Rogelio Salmona is recognized as one of the most important architects of Latin America. For over fifty years, his works and thoughts guided the formation of hundreds of architects who find in them an expression that is both in tune with contemporary trends and traditional sensibilities, with the cultural characteristics of the place in which the project is located.
Before his death, the architect expressed wisely: “I'm just an architect. Or should I say, someone trying to be one. Because becoming an architect is very difficult. You never know if what you are doing has any value. Only time will tell. Good architecture will become ruins. Poor architecture will disappear. I hope that the Torres del Parque do not fall in ruins now but in a thousand years.”
Salmona's success has not been limited to his many outstanding projects, but more importantly: a style, which has persistently been maintained through the years by a number of actual projects and theoretical proposals which have a universal character.
This style evokes modernism and post-modernism but is still very aware of the local sphere; we can even say that Salmona was one of the first proponents of architectural Glocalism: a portmanteau of globalization and localization, describing the adaptation of a product, scheme or in this case, style, to the culture in which it's located.
Among Salmona's most prominent contributions to the discourse on the concept of "Place," is that for something to be defined as such, it has to exceed the limits of its functional purpose and involve the geographical, historical and social context, suggesting novel relationships within architecture.
However, since the passing of this Colombian architect, his work has fallen into certain neglect.
"New Architecture" in Colombia has forgotten these theoretical parameters of Salmona and evolved into a somewhat foreign approach in which materials, technology and parametric design (although clearly relevant) have completely replaced this concept of universalism from localism and transformed the buildings by Salmona into a museum-like experience.
Current Colombian architects should cope with the mission of rescuing the work of Salmona, not only in the realm of historic preservation, but also its theoretical basis, and use it to return Salmona’s glocalism into the table.
Should contemporary architecture reflect not only local realities and context, but also more universal themes? What can architects learn from the experiences of the past?
Credits: Images by Luis Lozano-Paredes. Data linked to sources.