Francisco Salamone (June 5, 1897 - August 8, 1959) was an Argentine architect of Italian descent who, between 1936 and 1940, during the Infamous Decade, built more than 60 municipal buildings with elements of Art Deco style in 25 rural communities on the Argentine Pampas within the Buenos Aires Province. These buildings were some of the first examples of modern architecture in rural Argentine.
After leaving the Otto Krause Technical School in Buenos Aires he continued his studies in the National University of Cordoba where he graduated in 1917 with a degree in architecture and civil engineering. Salamone became a good friend of Dr. Manuel Fresco, a conservative politician who was governor of the Province of Buenos Aires during the period 1936-1940. During Fresco's term of office a large number of new municipal buildings were built and the roads, irrigation and communications networks in the province were largely improved. Although many of the new buildings were of little aesthetic value, those that Fresco commissioned Salamone were a notable and very personal combination of Art Deco, functionalism, Italian Futurism and propaganda on a vast scale. The use of reinforced concrete made it possible to construct buildings to a height that at that time made them symbols of municipal power and authority.
The rural towns in which Salamone's buildings appeared were 500 km or more from Buenos Aires city, and were either frontier towns, built at the end of the nineteenth century on the edge of Indian territory, or were situated at regular intervals along newly built rail links. These towns were named after the colonels and generals who led the Conquest of the Desert and engineers who pioneered the building of the railways in this part of the Province.
When Fresco's term as Provincial governor came to an end in 1940, Salamone and his family moved back to Buenos Aires, where he designed just two more buildings in Rationist style.
Town Halls, Cemetery Portals and Slaughterhouses
Salamone's work comprised three types of municipal buildings: Town Halls: these are characterized by their massive proportions and high tower, taller than the local church tower, to symbolise the advance of civilisation over the Pampas and recalled both the medieval palazzi comunali and the designs of Benito Mussolini's Italy. These buildings were clearly intended to be the centre of urban life.
Cemetery Portals were also characterized by their massive proportions. examples can be found in Saldungaray, Laprida, Azul, Salliquelo and Balcarce.
Slaughterhouses are functional in design, on the outskirts of towns, and have become obsolete with the introduction of modern butchery techniques and the advent of cold-storage plants. Examples can be found in Tres Lomas, Balcarce, Carhue, Guamini, Coronel Pringles (whose tower is in the form of the blade of a knife), Azul, Laprida, Vedia, Villa Epecuen, Salliquelo, Chillar and Carlos Pelegrini.
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