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  HOME | Bolivia

Latest in Bolivian Architecture: Houses Inspired by the Transformer Robots

LA PAZ – The characters from the “Transformers” – the robots of the popular series of comics and films – are the inspiration for a number of homes in the Bolivian cities of La Paz and El Alto, where the avant-garde style is the latest trend in the colorful Andean houses known as “cholets.”

The passion of homebuilder Santos Churata for the comics and films featuring the huge shape-changing robots gave him the idea for the new designs, including bright colors, and with facades, doors and windows that seem astonishingly alive.

“The Transformers film has always seemed interesting to me and as a kid it seemed incredible, but when I grew up I had already been motivated to change one of the (homes’) facades. They thought I was crazy,” recalled Churata in remarks to EFE.

The 33-year-old creator said that he is not an architect and learned housing design from his father, with whom he worked making housing sketches and drafts starting at age 16.

Churata, who is an Aymara Indian born on the altiplano of La Paz province, said that it was his grandfather who helped him study and draw, which became his great passion.

He has constructed about 30 homes, most of them in El Alto, but he’s proudest of four of the houses because they’re not “normal” structures, but rather “robotic” ones.

El Alto is one of the Bolivian cities with the highest poverty rate, but it’s also where live a number of successful businessmen who are the owners of these unique and luxurious homes.

Churata designed the first house with the image of the “autobot” called Sentinel Prime in El Alto’s Villa Adela neighborhood, and the structure features bright reds, blues and silvers, along with reflective black windows in the shape of a robot’s face.

The second home was built in the Pampahasi neighborhood of La Paz, and resembles the robot character Optimus Prime in great detail, also using red, blue, white, silver and other bright colors.

Most of the materials – such as porcelain, chrome and shiny auto paints – used to build or adorn the homes are imported from China.

The third house is on Litoral Ave. in El Alto and is called “The Steel Giant,” with an aluminum facade with golds and blues, featuring five floors along with huge bolts as part of the external decoration.

And Churata’s fourth house is under construction on July 16 Ave. in El Alto and will be finished at mid-year, a structure resembling the head of the character Iron Man, although it remains “covered” right now to protect its development from the gaze of curious passersby.

Churata has several more clients who have asked him to build or remodel their homes, their convention centers, art galleries or stores, and he is working to deliver a unique design to each of them.

“I always tell my clients that I can’t do anything just like another (home) that I’ve done. It has to be inspired by the owner and it has to be unique to the neighborhood,” he said, adding that he’s planning to design a series of houses based on superheroes.


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