When Argentine millionaire Antonio Campana was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1976, he decided to sell all his assets and spend the rest of his life doing something enjoyable. And, despite the lack of a professional education in that area, he turned his attention to architecture.
The result of his efforts became known as Campanopolis – a complex of some 40 buildings spread across about 500 acres area in González Catán on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, which looks like something straight out of Medieval Europe.
"He was a man endowed with creativity, passion and a designer’s mindset. Campana always started from imagination, projecting his ideas and manifesting them in Campanopolis – a place that took over 20 years to build and which is closely linked to Argentina’s national heritage," said Sergio Olivera, Campanopolis’ tour guides coordinator.
At the time when Campanopolis was being built, Buenos Aires was undergoing a period of intense urban renovation. As old buildings were demolished to clear the way for new high-rise structures, some of their fragments – windows, doors, grates, ornaments – were auctioned to help cover the cost of renovation. A considerable portion of Argentine railway tracks were also dismantled during that time and, along with other elements of the railway infrastructure, were sold to the highest bidder.
Campana purchased all these materials and used them to build his village, with ‘recycling and optimization’ being his motto.
His use of salvaged materials resulted in an eclectic style, an amalgam of elements belonging to different styles of architecture. And once visitors of his ‘village’ identified many of its elements as medieval, Campana decided to "follow this style," Olivera told Sputnik Mundo.
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"If you look at the shadows of Campanopolis, it becomes clear that the place has medieval outlook, even though the materials it was built from are eclectic and belong to an uncertain era. Therefore, the village looks chaotic, but at the same time it is a work of art," he surmised.