Its unique architecture and wild 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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Nadine Dresbach received her Masters and Undergraduate Degrees in Art Education from Kent State University. She began her teaching career at Canton City Schools and Kent State University in Ohio. In 1995 she was hired by Sax Arts and Crafts as an Art Consultant and Category Sales Manager representing School Specialty at conferences and professional development sessions. Nadine also creates artwork and lesson plans for the company. Her other teaching experiences include instruction and Internship Supervisor for Winthrop University in Rock Hill South Carolina as well as work for the Rock Hill and Union County School Districts and St. Anne Catholic School.
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Mary Reilly received her BA with an emphasis in textile design from Mount Mary University in Wisconsin. She studied at the Wetterhoff Institute of Craft and Design in Hämeenlinna, Finland, as well as took numerous post-graduate courses in fine arts. Mary has over 15 years of experience with Sax Arts & Crafts, developing and shaping a national team of Art Consultants who have conducted art education and professional development workshops to elementary, middle, and high school art educators across the United States and Canada.
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