sábado, 23 de abril de 2011

Heritage At Risk / Patrimonio en peligro

The Toki Eder is being illegally torn down

The Toki Eder´s central frontispiece (2011, Nelson de Freitas - Una Sampablera por Caracas)

The demolition works in the rear side of the Toki Eder building, last April 22, 2011 (2011, Nelson de Freitas - Una Sampablera por Caracas)

A National Good of Cultural Interest is at risk in Caracas´ Chacao Borough.
Emilio Graterón assures that the police is surveying the building, as the works began without any municipal permits.
Translation by Docomomo VE

"The Toki Eder, a building of Neobasque Architecture that since 1940 decorates the Plaza Brión in Chacaíto, Caracas, with its distinctive reliefs and listed as a National Good of Cultural Interest by the Instituto de Patrimonio Cultural, could be at the verge of being illegally demolished. Big holes in its rear side and the evident abandon shown in the building´s northern facade are signs of the situation, which yesterday motivated a protest by the NGOs Caracas en Retrospectiva, Una Sampablera por Caracas, Fundamemoria, Caracas en Flor and Docomomo Venezuela, to avoid the disappearance of this architectural landmark.

"They are demolishing from rear to front to hide their intentions of destroying it", says María Sigillo, the founder of Caracas en Retrospectiva. Representatives of the NGOs explain that the building is vacant since 2005 and that it has been a victim of systematic abandonment by its owner, who has the idea of tearing it down to build new retail.

"By the state of the facade we presume that in the inside there must be a great deal of destruction of the ornamentation, which is also historic. The only thing that remains to be demolished is the the building´s exterior", denounced Hannia Gómez, vice president of Docomomo Venezuela. Effectively, the structure´s front, with brick-closed windows and graffiti ruining it, shows the apathy that plagues this work, also included in the Catalogue of Cultural Heritage of Chacao.

The Toki Eder was designed by the Basque architect Miguel Salvador Cordon and is today considered a noted example of Venezuelan Neobasque Architecture. Initially it was a residential building that adapted to the dynamics of its zone with the inclusion of retail and office spaces in the ground floor. This is what motivates its defenders to ask for a re-evaluation of its utility.

"Retail can still make it here, if that is the idea. We understand the owner´s interests, but this is a cultural good of the Caraquenians. If he doesn´t like the building, he can sell it to anyone who is interested in preserving the history of the city", argued Hannia Gómez.

Other option is proposed by Leopoldo Palis, a member of the foundation Salvemos al Toki Eder, explaining that the structure could be the home of the project for a Museum for the Identity and Heritage of Chacao, according to his point of view.

Works stopped. Chacao´s Mayor, Emilio Graterón, underlined yesterday that the municipal police is vigilant since Wednesday to prevent any remodeling works in the building. He pointed that all the works done until now in the Toki Eder were made without a permit from the Alcaldía de Chacao, but that this is an issue for the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural: "No further works can be done there until the owner presents a permit issued by the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural, who has the control over this landmark".

EL NACIONAL - Saturday, April 23, 2011 Caracas/2
Photograph: Omar Véliz

Versión española aquí.

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