Its unique architecture and crazy colors make La Boca one of the world’s most photographed communities. La Boca is a barrio of Buenos Aires, Argentina and developed its unique architectural design/style from the numerous groups of immigrants that entered Argentina starting in 1830s. As immigrants arrived in La Boca, they needed places to live. Money was scarce so they became resourceful, using cast off ship building materials such as corrugated metal, wooden boards, and marine paint. These different materials provided shelter but also developed a unique style of design. The buildings become visually appealing with the use of corrugated metal–some horizontal and some vertically placed. Wood boards and plank also did not follow the norm and were fit together like puzzle pieces to build dwellings. The available marine paint offered another design element–color. These left-over paints were never enough to make one house all one color. The random color blocks look almost quilt-like.
La Boca fell upon hard times when a second larger port was opened. In 1950, it made a comeback under the direction of local Argentinian artist, Benito Quinquela Martín. Martin started to paint the houses the same way the immigrants did, drawing attention to the area and allowing the visual and performing arts to grow. Today, this colorful style is still carried on and the barrio has become a must-see for art lovers and tourists.
In this lesson, students can be resourceful like the early immigrants were in Argentina and use found materials to build two-dimensional La Boca styled houses. Share with students examples of the La Boca houses and buildings. Discuss the use of color and texture. Have students search their homes for corrugated board, bubble wrap, metal, aluminum foil, plastic, textured papers, and packaging materials. An easy way to create texture is to rub aluminum foil over a textured surface. Foil can be easily cut and used to mimic textured metal. All or some of the items they uncover can be used or shared. If they have construction or colored paper available, it can be used in combination with the found papers. Papers can be cut to mimic shutters and different size wood boards. Reference our lesson plan to see examples of finished 2D artwork and complete directions. Once completed, students can share their 2D architectural creations and discuss the found objects used to create them.
The Colorful Homes of La Boca, Argentina Objectives
Research and gain knowledge of architectural style/design, paying close attention to the buildings of La Boca, Argentina.
Focus on the elements and principles of design used in architecture.
Construct a 2D image in the style of the homes of La Boca, Argentina.
Tips, Ideas, and Discussion Topics
Always make a preliminary sketch.
House painting as a profession dates to the 11th century and the first ready-mixed paint was developed in 1875.
What other groups of people were resourceful in the materials used to make their dwellings?
Why are barns always red? What style of home is called a “Painted Lady”?
Amsterdam is another city with a unique architectural style and houses of many different colors. Why are some of these houses painted black?
Why are homes painted lighter colors in tropical climates?
Walk your neighborhood and look at the different styles of architecture. What houses/apartments stand out and why?
More Architectural Art Lesson Plans & Ideas
Want to try something else? Be sure to check out these other art lesson plans and view our Art Lesson Plan collection for even more.
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For Nadine, art education has been her life’s work, including an Ohio teaching license, 5 years teaching elementary art, and 19 years in higher education (teacher prep). She has served Sax for 25 years as a Category Account Manager, Art Consultant, and Subject Matter Expert. In the latter capacity, Nadine has presented at various national, state, and local conferences.
After 24 years as a college admissions director, Mary crossed over to provide the materials for art education as a member of Sax, first as manager of Inside Sales, then as National Sales Manager. Mary has overseen a team of 15 art consultants. In 2000 Mary and her team created Sax Lesson Plan Book partnerships with prominent art supplies vendors. Meanwhile, she has refined her own artful style of presentation at various national, state and local conferences.