Track 3: Conservation of modern and post-modern heritage
This enquiry studies the relationships between power, space and architecture; highlighting the role of architecture as a strategy to transmit a political ideology, through a series of modern buildings built by the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in 1955, in Santo Domingo, in the framework of an International Exhibition, called Fair of Peace and The Brotherhood of the Free World, in complex historical, political and cultural circumstances.
The Fair had a double denotation: The celebration of the Dictator’s 25 years of power, which fulfilled and demonstrated to the world the economic achievements, prosperity and peace which supposedly subsisted in the country, deviating the international awareness from the human rights violations that were actually present at that time.
The architect used spatial monumentality accompanied by an iconographic program of powerful sculptural elements and murals, which represented the progress and prosperity of the citizens. He designed a new urban layout, built 12 large buildings, three hotels and several dozens of small pavilions. The arrangement deranged the traditional urban configuration, it framed within the stylistic current movement of the moment with new compositional forms and new materials such as reinforced concrete. The entire design process was directed of the Dominican architect Guillermo González Sánchez, a graduate of Yale University, assisted by young Dominican architects. Its construction was done in a record time of just over a year.
The fair was inaugurated in the presence of the diplomatic officials accredited in the country, high army commanders, ecclesiastical dignitaries, important figures of the Dominican society of that time and coincided with the participation of forty-two nations. Currently, the urban layout is maintained and many physical structures of the building have survived. Undoubtedly, this urban-architectural arrangement forms a unique scenery in the Caribbean, which has been exceeded by Brasilia, six years later. Still today, the whole evokes the economic power, the strength of the regime, the advance of the national industry; self-sufficiency, control and economic stability.