‘We Must Respect History in the Face of Modernity’: Freddy Mamani on Infusing Culture into Architecture

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Freddy Mamani, the Bolivian self-taught architect known for his vibrant and flamboyant Nuevo Andino (New Andean) style, made a noteworthy appearance at the In Focus: Radical Repair event held at Triennale Milano on September 28, 2023. This public program, organized by The World Around and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, aimed to redefine the role of architecture in addressing the climate crisis and exploring radical forms of repair.

Mamani, revered for his transformation of the monochromatic city of El Alto, shared his insights on how indigenous traditions and craftsmanship can breathe life, culture, and history into the urban landscape. His creations, characterized by their bold colors and incorporation of ‘Tihuanacota’ elements, have helped bridge the gap between the present society and its ancestral roots.

During the In Focus: Radical Repair event, Mamani emphasized his desire to showcase the strong cultural identity of South America. He believes that architecture can serve as a powerful medium for expressing and preserving indigenous heritage. Mamani’s work not only adds vibrancy and personality to the city but also offers a solution to the current climate crisis. By incorporating environmentally friendly materials and reducing energy consumption, his projects contribute to sustainability and address pressing issues such as climate change and inequality. Mamani also advocates for laws and policies that prioritize the majority and align with societal needs.

Incorporating elements of indigenous architecture and crafts, Mamani’s buildings aim to foster social cohesion and integrate rural and urban communities. Community involvement and engagement are integral to his architectural projects, as he believes that people are the agents of change. By working closely with the community, Mamani has successfully transformed the cityscape of El Alto from ochre to a colorful and vibrant environment.

Looking ahead, Mamani acknowledges the urgent challenges architects and designers face in a rapidly warming world. He stresses the importance of promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness among clients. Additionally, he highlights the significance of respecting cultural identity and history when addressing contemporary issues on a global scale. Mamani calls for a more conscious society that values its heritage while embracing modernity.

Freddy Mamani’s participation at the In Focus: Radical Repair event showcased his unique approach to architecture and his commitment to preserving cultural identity while addressing pressing contemporary issues. Through his vibrant and sustainable designs, Mamani has become a leading figure in the field, inspiring architects and designers worldwide to embrace their cultural heritage and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.

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