Catalano’s Floralis Generica is located at Plaza de las Naciones Unidas (United Nations Park), in one of Buenos Aires most affluent neighborhoods, Recoleta. The 65-foot-high flower emerges from an artificial circular pond with mirrored waters that reflect its natural shape.
The giant flower was crafted by the late architect Eduardo Catalano, who was taught by Walter Gropius in Harvard and was a professor at MIT at the end of his career. Installed in 2002, it was created as a gift for the city he was born in. Beautiful and interactive, the sculpture was designed to open during the day and close itself at dusk.
The 43-foot long petals would open at 8am and close every evening thanks to a complex hydraulic mechanic system and photocells, sensitive to the sun and sitting atop its anthers. anufactured from 18 tons of aluminum and stainless steel, the sculpture was prefabricated at Lockheed Martin Aircraft.
Although it’s a favorite green spot among tourists and also locals, the flower has been immobile for 6 sad years. Its expensive hydraulic mechanisms stopped working due to extreme weather conditions, which included strong unpredicted winds and hailstones.
It took several years to fix since the original blueprints were missing and the manufacturers went bankrupt, fled the country and left the sculpture out of regular maintenance. As if this wasn’t enough, squatters had taken over the machine room located underwater and the whole structure became weathered and rusty.
Finally, thanks to the local government efforts and a substantial investment by a mail company, the iconic giant flower has bloomed again,
Photos © Ana Lisa Alperovich for Inhabitat