Freddy Mamani a 47 year old former bricklayer from Bolivia, has re-invented architecture… he has created his own ‘neo-Andean’ or Baroque Psychedelic in the highest city in the world, El Alto.
Grown out of pre-Colombian roots he says that the layered cutouts in the ceiling refer to the Andean “Chakana” cross and the geometric friezes to motifs found in Tiwanku, the centre of pre-Inca civilisation near El Alto.
The colours - clear references to the beautiful woven cloths of Aymara, the indigenous group of which Mamani is part.
Mamani grew up in a mud-brick house in a remote rural area, where he had to walk for an hour to the nearest school. The eldest of seven children, he moved to El Alto with his brothers and sisters when he was 13, beginning to work as a mason, and later studying construction at university. He graduated in 2002 and received his first commission from a local entrepreneur who had made his fortune doing business with China.
“He asked for something unique,” says Mamani, showing me an image of a bright green building, part Space Invader, part ancient temple. “So that’s what he got.”
He mixed up the space putting a commercial space on the ground floor, double-height party hall above this and a few floors of rental apartments with a house for the owner on the roof. While they are relatively expensive to make, (costing between $200,00-$500,000) he was inundated with orders and the owners made back the money for construction within a couple of years, primarily by renting the spaces out for events.
What parties could be had!
Such is his influence that last year he was invited to exhibit at the Fondation Cartier and designed and installed a ballroom in his vernacular for the exhibiiton Southern Geometries: From Mexico to Patagonia.