View the ‘New Andean’ Architecture of El Alto, Bolivia
There could hardly be a more improbable tale of two cities than that of Bolivia’s fraternal twins, El Alto and La Paz. While the former clings to the clouds 13,615 feet atop a dusty Andean plateau, the latter sprouts like a field of beanstalks from an earthen bowl 3,000 feet below. El Alto was long seen as an uninteresting satellite city of La Paz, but a new cable car linking the two has brought a wave of tourism to this once forgotten metropolis, which is in the midst of a renaissance as Bolivia’s newly empowered indigenous majority reaps the rewards of social programs put in place by the nation’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales. The most obvious manifestation of this sudden wealth is the flamboyant mansions of Aymara architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre, who’s spent the last decade singularly transforming the architectural landscape of El Alto in a way not seen since Gaudi took a stab at Barcelona. Stroll the streets this June (Bolivia’s driest month) to find Silvestre's prismatic and angularly erratic buildings, which dazzle like diamonds in the rough.