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Carlos Raúl Villanueva

Carlos Raúl Villanueva Astoul (London, May 30, 1900 - Caracas, August 16,
Carlos Raúl Villanueva
1975) was a Venezuelan Modernist architect. Villanueva went for the first time
to Venezuela when he was 28 years old. He was involved in the development and
modernization of Caracas, Maracay and other cities across the country. Among
his works are El Silencio Redevelopment which included 7797 apartments and
207 shop premises and the Ciudad Universitaria, the main campus of the Central
University of Venezuela. The Campus was declared World Heritage Site by
UNESCO in the year 2000.

Born May 30, 1900


London, England
Contents Died August 16, 1975
Early life and education (1900-1928) (aged 75)
First Modernism (1929-1944) Caracas, Venezuela
Ciudad Universitaria (1944-1970) Nationality Venezuelan
Quotations Occupation Architect
Synthesis of the arts
Spouse(s) Margot Arismendi
Works
Amengual
1920s
1930s Buildings Museum of Fine Arts
1940s Jesús Soto Museum
1950s
1960s Projects Ciudad Universitaria
1970s de Caracas
El Silencio
References
Redevelopment
External links

Early life and education (1900-1928)


Villanueva was born in the Venezuelan consulate in the city of London on May 30, 1900. He was the son of Carlos Antonio
Villanueva and Paulina Astoul from a family originally from Valencia, Spain who had settled in Venezuela in the 18th century.
His father was sent as an envoy from Venezuela to the Exposition Universelle of 1889 in Paris where he met Paulina Astoul and
married her in 1893. A few years later, in 1896, he was appointed Consul General of Venezuela in England by the government of
Joaquín Crespo. Carlos Raúl was born four years later near the Venezuelan Consulate and was the youngest of the five children of
the family. In the following years his family moved back to Paris, where he received his basic schooling at the Lycée Condorcet.
Later on he moved with his family to Málaga, Spain, until 1919 when he returned to Paris. In 1922, following the footsteps of his
brother Marcel, Carlos Raúl was admitted to the Second Class of the Department of Architecture of the École des Beaux-Arts and
entered the workshop of Gabriel Héraud. In 1925 he entered the First Class of the Department of Architecture and worked closely
with León Joseph Madeline. During that time he collaborated on a project for a Hôtel d'ambassade a construire dans un pays
d'Extreme Orient with another student of Héraud's workshop, Roger-Leopold Hummel, which won the Second prize of the Grand
Prix de Rome in 1928. On June 6 of the same year, he received his Architecture degree and traveled for the first time to
Venezuela and the United States where he joined the architectural firm Guilbert and Betelle with his brother in Newark, New
Jersey. Yet in 1929 Villanueva returned to Venezuela and started working in the Ministry of Public Works as Director of
Buildings and Ornamental Constructions.

First Modernism (1929-1944)


After gaining some experience in France and the United States, Villanueva arrives in Venezuela full of enthusiasm and ideas; in
particular, thanks to the influence of his close friend Auguste Perret. Both men shared a profound conviction that architecture was
the art of organizing space. Consequently, Villanueva sees himself as a man of action and will work countless hours to fulfill his
passion. His first jobs were on the city of Maracay, a city which became the de facto capital of the country under General Juan
Vicente Gómez. He received his first important assignment in 1929: the "Hotel Jardín". In his reform of the building it was
possible to already observe some features that will become common in his designs. Among them were the use of covered
galleries to provide protection from the weather and the use of interior courtyards and gardens to harmonize built and unbuilt
spaces. On January 28, 1933, he married Margot Arismendi Amengual, a member of the prominent Venezuelan Arismendi family,
and had four children with her.

His first important commission came in 1935 with the project to build the Museum of Fine Arts of Caracas. This project allow
him to create a space for the exhibition of art, one of his most important passions. Already at this time his devotion to the artistic
vanguards of the century could be seen in his library, where his large collection of books on architecture was complemented by
those on art. It was also during this time that he met the sculptor Francisco Narváez with whom he collaborated in the Museum of
Fine Arts as well as in a series of other important projects like the "Natural Science Museum"(1936–1939) and the "Gran
Colombia School" (1939–1942) which became Villanueva's first attempt to bring into fruition the guiding principle of career: the
synthesis of the arts. The buildings also showed Villanueva's application of some of the most defining ideas of modern
architecture like the simplification of form and the importance given to functionality.

Ciudad Universitaria (1944-1970)


The Campus and buildings of the
Universidad Central de Venezuela are
considered to be Villanueva's
masterwork. Built on the site of the old
Hacienda Ibarra - which originally
belonged to Simon Bolívar's family -
and connected to the new city center
around Plaza Venezuela, the project
View of the Ciudad Universitaria meant a massive undertaking of both Central Library
from the library.
urban planning and architectural
design. The administration of Isaías
Medina Angarita bought the Hacienda Ibarra in 1942 in order to give the University a larger location than the San Francisco
Covent, giving Villanueva a unique opportunity to applied his conscious integration of art and architecture on a grand scale. This
vast urban complex of about 2 square kilometres includes a total of 40 buildings and it remains one of the most successful
applications of Modern Architecture in Latin America. Villanueva worked closely with all the artists who contributed with their
oeuvres and personally supervised the project for over 25 years until the late 60's when his deteriorating health forced him to
leave some buildings in the design stage.

Quotations
Synthesis of the arts
In 1954, Villanueva described the guiding principle behind the Ciudad
Universitaria in the following way:

“ The environment of the fine arts


formulates the need for the integration of
painting and sculpture with architecture,
for a return from the ancient elements of
color and volume to the white
architectonic organism, using the
language of the great arts purified by a
Cloud Shepherd (Hans Arp) and Mural
long evolutionary process. To be limited
(Mateo Manaure) at the Ciudad
to just decorating walls or placing
Universitaria
paintings and sculptures on improvised
places does not have, in terms of the
synthesis of the arts, more value than it
already has in the collection of a
museum. The idea of this synthesis
could only give positive results when
painting and sculpture find the
architectonical reasons of their
incorporation in the built environment,
that is to say, only when the artist paints
and models thinking about the spatial
elements that constitute the architectonic
work. The spirit of the Synthesis of the
Arts is to corroborate and highlight the
real space-form of the architectural
design; or in an inverse process,
disperse and transform the real volumes
in relations that are purely special. ”
Works

1920s
Banco Obrero and Banco Agrícola y Pecuario (Maracay, 1929); (currently the Museum of Anthropology and
History)
Hotel Jardín (Maracay, 1929–1930); (currently the Aragua State House)

1930s
Sports Club (Maracay, 1930)
Plaza Bolívar (Maracay, 1930–1935)
"La Maestranza" Bullring (Maracay, 1931–1932)
Bolivarian Museum (Caracas, 1931)
Mental Hospital (Caracas, 1931–1933)
Plaza Carabobo (Caracas, 1934)
Museum of Fine Arts (Caracas, 1935–1938)
Museum of Natural Sciences (Caracas, 1934–1935)
Venezuelan Pavilion at the Paris Exposition (Paris, France, 1937 - Demolished)
Plaza Simón Bolívar (Valparaíso, Chile, 1938)
Los Rosales and El Prado Residential States (Caracas, 1938–
1940)
Gran Colombia School (Caracas, 1939–1942); (currently the
Francisco Pimentel School).

1940s
Headquarters of the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce
(Caracas, 1940)
Plaza La Concordia (1940)
Buena Vista Preorientation Boarding School (Los Teques, "La Maestranza" Bullring
1940–1942)
Passenger Terminal (Valera, 1941–1942)
El Silencio Redevelopment (Caracas, 1941–1945)
Radio Communications Building (Caracas, 1943)
General Rafael Urdaneta Development (Maracaibo, 1943)
Unidad Vacacional Los Caracas (1944)
Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas - Campus of the Central
University of Venezuela (1944–1970)
Plaza Rafael Urdaneta (Caracas, 1945)
University Hospital (Caracas, 1945)
Anatomical Institute (Caracas, 1945)
Rafael Urdaneta School (Maracaibo, 1945–1946)
El Hipódromo Development (Maracay, 1946)
Museum of Fine Arts
Las Delicias Neighborhood Unit (Maracay, 1948–1952)

1950s
Hacienda La Pimpera House (Barlovento, 1954)
Diego de Losada Development (Caracas, 1954)
Atlántico Norte Development (Caracas, 1954–1955)
Lomas de Pro Patria (Caracas, 1954)
Cotiza Housing Estate (Caracas, 1954)
Artigas Residential Estate (Caracas, 1954–1955)
La Vega Residential Estate (Caracas, 1955)
23 de Enero Development (Caracas, 1955–1957)
Simón Rodríguez Development (Caracas, 1956) Ciudad Universitaria
Altos de Curia Residential Estate (Caracas, 1954)
School of Petroleum Engineering (Maracaibo, 1956)

1960s
La Salle Foundation (Caracas, 1961–1962)
Caomita House (Caracas, 1962)
House for Alejandro Otero (San Antonio de Los Altos, 1965)
Plaza Estrella Building (Caracas, 1964)
Venezuelan Pavilion for the Montreal Expo (Montreal, Canada,
1967)

Jesús Soto Museum


1970s
Jesús Soto Museum (Ciudad Bolívar, 1970)

References
Carlos Raúl Villanueva (1980), Textos escogidos. Caracas : Universidad Central de Venezuela, Facultad de
Arquitectura y Urbanismo.

External links
Villanueva Foundation - Official Website (http://www.fundacionvillanueva.org/)
Dedicated to the Centenary of his birth (https://web.archive.org/web/20060420092436/http://www.centenariovillan
ueva.web.ve/) (in Spanish)
Central University of Venezuela website dedicated to his life and Works (https://web.archive.org/web/200602191
24722/http://www.ucv.ve/villanueva.htm) (in Spanish)
UNESCO World Heritage website on the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/986/)
Exhibition on the Covered Plaza by the Architectural Association, London (https://web.archive.org/web/20070221
223424/http://www.0lll.com/lud/pages/architecture/archgallery/villanueva_ucv/pages/ucv_01.htm)
Video on the life of Villanueva with interviews of his daughter and collaborators (https://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=E3AMwWqfEoY)

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