Is it kitsch or authentic? A wonder is unfolding at an altitude above 4000 metres in the Bolivian boomtown of El Alto. For the past fifteen years, self-made architect Freddy Mamani has been building his Cholets here. With their hallucinating colours and unruly baroque forms, the buildings are striking jewels in a predominantly drab landscape.
He has already completed more than sixty of them, and the phenomenon is grabbing the attention of people all over the world. Are these nothing more than exotic extravagances, or is this authentic architecture related to the Andean architecture of the Aymara people who have lived on the plateaus of Bolivia for centuries? Off to Bolivia to meet the ‘Gaudi of the Andes’!