How Pantoja Architects’ Latest Landmark is Bringing Back Colombian Art
Article by Nour Adel
NICHE, by Pantoja Arquitectos is bringing back Colombian art, in the Square Jairo Varela, in the center of Cali, Colombia.
Whether you are a fan of classical Colombian music or just a random passerby in the streets of Cali, Colombia, the “Niche” project is bound to appeal to your senses. It’s a work to see, hear, and absorb. Designed by Pantoja Architects, the project highlights the features of the identity of the classical Colombian musician “Niche” and his talent for composition. The project, located in Cali’s Plazoleta Jairo Varela, is an urban piece that engages viewers with the Colombian art on a whole new level and provides them with a unique spatial experience.
WATCH >>> Here is a glimpse of the Columbian artwork in action
Bringing Back Colombian Art
“Niche” is an abstract artwork where the forms of trumpets and trombones are articulated to form a landmark that interrupts the public space and at the same time attracts people from different backgrounds to enter.
It interacts with the public in multiple ways. Users can use it as a shed, a resting area, a social interaction space, or even as a salsa dancing floor and allow themselves to experience Colombian culture within just a few minutes.
Unveiled on Dec. 25, 2015, “Niche “is a monument designed as a tribute to the artist Jairo Varela. The famous musician from Cali has been the driving force behind the group Niche, which has given an identity to the Salsa of Cali.
The designed sculpture is 10 meters high, displaying the word ‘’Niche’’ in galvanized steel painted with gold synthetic enamel. The trumpets and trombones were the main inspiration for the form, as they are considered essential musical elements in the group’s music.
Whether you pass by Plazoleta Jairo Varela on your way to work in the morning or are just hanging out in the beautiful city by night, the monument is bound to catch your eye. A line of lights surrounds each letter, resembling the aesthetic of the signs of concert halls, bars, and nightclubs, making the project look extra appealing by night.
To make the sculpture further interact with pedestrians, the designers have created original audio recordings of the band’s music to play inside each ‘’bell’’ at the feet of the letters. The compositions of the group are divided into three sections — rhythm, harmony, and melody — and all three are played in the bells.
The monument is a time machine that takes you back to an age of simplicity, a time when good music was much more common than it is now. All people — music lovers and scholars or bystanders — are invited to move closer to the musical legacy of Jairo Varela and the group, as the sculpture celebrates the songs that are a part of the identity of the city of Cali.
The audio design of the songs played in the sculpture required the actual participation and collaboration of the members of the current Grupo Niche and of its musical director, José Aguirre. The musicians recorded songs such as ‘’Cali Pachanguero’’ exclusively for the artwork, to create each musical track and remind us of the unique art of the Colombia Southwest.
This also ensures that the acoustics are efficient and provides high sound quality so it does not sound like one of the ancient, squeaky, cassette tapes our grandmothers used to listen to.
Integrating with the Public
The artwork is an intervention in the public space that can be seen from vehicles passing through one of the main avenues of Cali. It also welcomes passersby to Plazoleta Jairo Varela, standing at the top of a shaft of pedestrian traffic that crosses the city.
It is not only a work to see, hear, and penetrate, but it also serves a function where the forms act as actual urban furniture, allowing the user to sit, lie down, and dance, participating in and reflecting on the essence of the World Capital of Salsa. It is a meeting place where random people can get to know each other and maybe reminisce about the good, old, original classics of Colombian music.
“Niche” as an Urban Anchor Point
“Niche” does not only revive Colombian art, it also plays a major role in giving definition to the urban space. It helps pedestrians and drivers draw a mind map of the city, as it makes the whole area more memorable.
This unique work of art allows residents to perceive their city with a whole new perspective. “Niche” will always serve as a reference point and landmark like no other; you will find people constantly referring to it spontaneously whenever they are describing directions to someone, just because such a distinctive sight is so difficult to forget.
Would you forget if you saw a random old man bouncing under a golden trumpet in a public square?
Full Project Credits For NICHE:
Project Name: NICHE
Location: Square Jairo Varela, in the center of Cali, Colombia
Artists: Fredy Pantoja, Lucia Alba
Sound Engineer: Marcela Mejía
Architects: Pantoja Arquitectos – Sebastian Castaño, Alex Rodriguez, Nicolas Rosales,Leonardo Fontalvo, Juan Camilo Montero, Edward Nuñez
Assembly Engineer: Jhon Henry Aristizábal
Graphic Designer: Jhon Vargas
Manufacturing Engineer: Juan Manuel Duque
Structural Engineer: Iván Vergara
Electrical Engineer: Carlos Castaño
Project Date: December 25th 2015
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