Germán Samper Gnecco (1924 – 2019)

Germán Samper Gnecco

On the afternoon of May 22, left us Germán Samper, one of the last “Masters” of twentieth-century South American architecture. As soon as he graduated he was part, with Rogelio Salmona and Balkrishna Doshi, of Le Corbusier’s Paris studio, for which he personally followed the urban plan for Chandigarh and the one for Bogotà, his hometown to which he came back in 1954.

Here he signed many of the architectural icons of the Colombian capital: from the Avianca skyscraper to the Gold Museum, from the Colsubsidio Citadel to the Luis Ángel Arango Library whose concert hall is considered an extraordinary work of acoustics. Between 1968 and 1973 he was, with James Stirling, Charles Correa and Fumihiko Maki among others, one of the designers chosen by Peter Land to design, in the northern suburbs of Lima, the PREVI, still the largest and most successful experiment of “self-construction” of South America.

The commitment on the front of the “viviendas sociales” (social housing) represented one of the distinctive figures of the career of Germán Samper that in recent years has spent a lot in promoting urban planning that put human relations and public spacs at the center of the project . Among Germán’s legacies, an archive of over five thousand drawings, already exhibited at the MOMA in New York, and depicting buildings, squares and urban scenarios he visited in exactly seventy years of career.

In fact it was the summer of 1949 when Le Corbusier allowed him and Rogelio Salmona to go to the CIAM congress in Bergamo, exhorting them: “do not take the camera with you but a notebook and pencil, an architect must to draw what likes and attracts his attention …and be curious!” A tip that Germán has taken almost as an imperative and that today, in the era of an extreme digitalization, represents a warning to every architect. Source and photos Courtesy of Studio Lauria.

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