Grupo Austral (1939–1950) By León, Ana María
Grupo Austral was an association of architects that operated chiefly in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 1939 until approximately 1950. The catalan architect Antonio Bonet met Argentinians Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy in 1936 while working in Le Corbusier’s office in Paris. Argentina’s promising economic prospects and the impending conflict in Europe prompted the group to move to Buenos Aires in 1938, where they founded Austral together with a core group of young local architects. Argentina had been going through a process of transformation and growth, and Austral sought to reframe this process with the planning ideas of Le Corbusier and the the Cangrès internationaux d’architecture moderne (CIAM). The members of Austral teamed up in different configurations and worked at various levels, designing furniture, buildings, and urban plan proposals. However, although the Argentinian state was eager to embrace the technical and functional traits of modernity, it was also skeptical about foreign influences; in addition, it was mired in political conflicts. These conflicts ultimately prevented the realization of the urban plans the group instigated. Although short-lived, Austral productively collapsed different temporalities and geographies: between their formation in Le Corbusier’s office amid the European avant-garde discourse, and their encounter with a rapidly modernizing Argentina.