Building a New Colombia

with Rogelio Salmona

Rogelio Salmona biography


Rogelio Salmona was a Colombian architect born on April 28, 1929 in Paris, France. He die on October 3, 2007 in Bogota, Colombia. Inspirited by Islamic brick work of Spain and North Africa, is considerate the greatest of 20th century Colombian architect. Because he was son of a Spanish father and a French mother who were Jewish, they had to came to Bogota, Colombia in 1934 before the Second World War began.

 Inspiration everywhere:

 He grew up in the Faux Tudor, in Bogota. His family haven't very big. He had no brothers, so he only lived with his parents. Their relationship was like the one a family must have. In 1948, he retuned to France because in Colombia El Bogotazo was being develop. In 1953, Rogelio Salmona traveled through the southern of France, Spain and the north of Africa learning history. During his trip, he gets interest in the Islamic brick work of Spain and North Africa. This interest he had will became further in his inspiration. He return to Colombia in 1958. Here he finish his studies and begin working having in mind this Islamic descent, which he adapted to the Colombian society and environment. Adding, he also inspirited in nature and the geometrical shapes we can find in it. The beginning: In Bogota he started studying at the French Lyceum Louis Pasteur school, were he graduates and decided to study architecture. Having this in mind he entered to the architecture program of the Nacional University of Colombia. Because of the violence that were taking place in Bogota while he was studying, his father decided to send him back to Paris, where he had the opportunity to study and work with Le Corbusier on Chandigarh and other projects, that made him shine as a new architect. After almost 10 years of working with Le Corbusier, Salmona return to Colombia and continuos his great crier in here in the University of Los Andes. His work is often different and representative, because of the the use of red brick and some natural shapes (like spirals), radial geometry and a lot of curves in his designs. Further more, his basic idea was to use new materials and designs but, without forgetting about the old ones.

 A Colombian hero:

Rogelio Salmona was one of the first architects to transform latin american culture, materials and techniques into a contemporary framework. He did a lot of things to transform the old Colombia into the one that we know nowadays. His first impacting work was the apartments of the El Polo, designed in company of Guillermo Berm. During the first part of his profession he made a lot of buildings specially of public uses, but the first of his work to be internationally recognized were the El Parque apartments. This building nowadays is recognized as one of the most important contributions to Bogota city. In 1986, he won the first National Price of Architecture for the House of Guests in Cartagena, Colombia and also it was the most important Latin American protect that was build during the eighties. The Quimbaya Museum in Armenia, won the second National Price of Architecture for Rogelio Salmona, in 1988. And he won his third National Price of Architecture with the FAITHS in Cali (1990). In 2003 he was the first Latin American to won the Alvar Aalto Medal for the public Library name Virgilio Barco. His designs are characterized because of the different option he use for handling of space, lighting, scare, outsides spaces and the present of water in different ways, just like pool, waterfalls or ponds. Also you can see in all of his buildings different types of inclinations and terraces. Further more he used to defended the public space and the cultural and environmental values of the surrounding spaces all over the city.

Never dead:

October the third of 2007, Rogelio Salmona die after a hard and long battle with cancer. Even he is not physically any more his memories and live will be never die in all the Colombians harts. "Good architecture transform without modifying", Rogelio Salmona. Ricardo Castro is a professional architect, who thinks, “Salmona was like an illustrious botanist. He was immersed in history, making his buildings, like great works of literature or music, evocative of other things". Letting in one site his talent to design, most people who had the opportunity of meeting him said that he was a very special person who never grew up, because his attitude is like the one of a little kid thought wars almost everything he did. An other thing that is very important of the work of Rogelio Salmona is that almost all of his work is for public use, because he thought that we need to have the space to share with other and have the opportunity to learn in their spaces, that's why most of his buildings are schools, libraries or museums (and does are the ones that get prices). He was a person who thinks and care about the others and the society. “Good architecture becomes ruins, bad architecture disappears.” Rogelio Salmona

© 2015 Gissel Gravier Rodriguez