The Caracoles: Chile’s Snail-Shaped Shopping Centers

Autora: Liliana de Simone

DE SIMONE, L. (2017) “The Caracoles: Chile’s Snail-Shaped Shopping Centers”. En: From Mall to Prison: El Helicoide’s Downward Spiral, editado por Celeste Olalquiaga and Lisa Blackmore. New York: UR Terraform. p. 114-145.

During the 1970s and 80s, Chile emerged as a laboratory for architecture based upon spiral geometries, attracting aesthetic and political criticism from different fronts. Inspired by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1959), Chilean designers adapted the spiral form to a commercial use that optimized earnings per square meter in city centers, especially in Santiago. These spiral-shaped buildings, called «caracoles comerciales,» or «snail» shopping centers, swept the country beginning in 1973 and through the mid-80s during Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship (1973-1989). Nowadays, these structures are seen as leftovers from the regime’s violent imposition of neoliberalism and are often characterized (and satirized) as the harbingers of the social and economic changes that established the commercialized and consumerist city that predominates in Chile today.’s_Snail-Shaped_Shopping_Centers