A sense of history 

 

In the gilded 1920s, a wealthy Buenos Aires gentleman commissioned the prestigious Norwegian architect and artist Alejandro Christophersen to design a special gift for his wife. The residence, located on Cavia Street in the Palermo Chico neighborhood, faces a tree-lined park designed at the beginning of the 20th century by French landscaper Charles Thays, which came to be known as Plaza Alemania. Winds of change were in the air: Buenos Aires underwent a period of great cultural and architectural development and saw itself transformed into a beautiful, modern city.

In this context, Christophersen (1866-1946) planned a simple, even austere mansion, typical of his historical eclecticism. Educated at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and a favorite of the Buenos Aires elite as early as 1888, Christophersen championed an architectural design philosophy allowing for wide-ranging freedom with regards to historical periods. This approach can be seen in the variety of historical references which he used in the creation of this building.

“Modern architectonic art should not be confined by the details”, he wrote, “but rather give a new twist to an old

idea”. This view can be seen in all of Christophersen’s work, such as the Anchorena Palace —today the Palacio San Martín, headquarters to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs—, The Santa Rosa de Lima Basilica, the Russian Orthodox Church, the Pedro Elizalde Children’s Hospital and the Gas Company, as well as numerous “petit hotel” residences, most of which have now been torn down. The house on Cavia Street is one of the few private homes designed by Christophersen that has been preserved.

A century later —within a few years of the demise of its one-hundred-year-old owner—, in 2011 the City of Buenos Aires designated the house a cultural heritage site, due to the quality and integrity of its architectural style, composition, and exceptional building materials. To quote the city’s communique, Christophersen’s facade offers“a balanced play of form and light, both refined and concise” and his design captures “the essence of the grand siècle itself.”

Originally named Residencia Bollini Roca, this graceful, elegant building at 2985 Cavia Street has come to life again in 2014 as Casa Cavia.