Build­ings rise in high­est big city

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

EL ALTO, Bo­livia — The Transformers have been trans­formed yet again.

Al­ready fea­tured as toys and video games, comic books, tele­vi­sion se­ries and movies, they’ve now been re­con­fig­ured as ex­u­ber­antly color­ful mul­ti­story build­ings that loom un­ex­pect­edly over the streets of El Alto, the world’s high­est big city.

A fan of the se­ries, San­tos Chu­rata, de­signs the fa­cades and in­te­ri­ors us­ing lurid col­ors, jut­ting an­gles and plenty of gleam­ing metal.

“I think it brings out your in­ner child. The owner feels part of the movies,” Chu­rata said.

So far, the 33-year-old has de­signed five build­ings in­spired by the Op­ti­mus and Sentinel Prime char­ac­ters and one by a non-Trans­former ro­bot, “The Iron Gi­ant”. The ren­tal ball­room on the ground floor of one five-story build­ing looks like the in­te­rior of a gar­gan­tuan toy. Apart­ments hide be­hind the gaudy decor on the floors above.

“It’s as if you were on a jour­ney to the fu­ture or to space, with tridi­men­sional fig­ures Transformers that make you feel as if you’re in con­stant move­ment,” Chu­rata said.

El Alto, at an el­e­va­tion of about 4,100 me­ters, is a fast­grow­ing city of roughly 1 mil­lion peo­ple that neigh­bors Bo­livia’s cap­i­tal of La Paz.

It’s an of­ten chaotic place, the streets crowded with ven­dors sell­ing all man­ner of goods, many of them coun­ter­feit knock­offs of well-known brands. The Trans­former build­ings them­selves are an un­li­censed homage to the fran­chise held by Has­bro, which did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

Un­til now, the city’s best known ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures have been color­ful mini-man­sions adorned with indige­nous An­dean sym­bols that have been built for a new mid­dle class in a coun­try that has seen rapid eco­nomic growth over the past decade.

The Transformers treat­ment can sharply raise the price of the struc­tures. But Chu­rata in­sists it’s worth the price: “If it makes you happy, why not?”


Peo­ple walk next to a mini man­sion in­spired by the fran­chise in La Paz, Bo­livia. The de­signer has cre­ated five such build­ings in the coun­try.

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