These quirky, fanciful homes may look like something out of a fairy tale, but they can actually exist throughout Bolivia as a means of showing economic success.
Called “cholets,” the buildings feature bright, solid colors, as well as windows that come in an array of unusual shapes and sizes — designs shaped by indigenous folklore.
They offer an amazing contrast to homes even one door away, which are often small and made of bricks.
Photographer Yuri Segalerba snapped the unique structures across the El Alto, a city adjacent to La Paz.
According to Segalerba, the word “cholet” is a mixture of "chalet" and "cholo" — a pejorative used in some Latin American countries referring to indigenous people.
The homes generally follow a fixed structure: commercial space on the ground floor, a party hall on the second, a third floor comprised of apartments, and the owner's quarters on top.
Segalerba, 39, from Genoa, Italy, said: "There has been a lot of interest and curiosity.
"Some consider them beautiful, some defined them as art, somebody else said a marker of class distinction.
"Everybody got emotionally involved — some in a positive way, some in a negative one."
The style is attributed to the self-taught architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre and, in his wake, other members of the nascent “Aymara bourgeoisie” (indigenous or mestizo people who gained financial success in the markets of El Alto and La Paz) started to build their houses this way. Segalerba, having discovered one of these structures, soon walked the streets of the city to locate about 30 more.
Through his images, Segalerba aims to show the social and architectural contrast of the region.
He said: "My attention was caught by the social and architectural contrast of these buildings with the environment.
"I was intrigued by the social cause they represent — the new Aymara bourgeoisie in a city where the people are in general still extremely poor — and the architectural case that the most of the buildings in El Alto are small houses made of bricks, and here and there these colorful towers break the flat skyline of the city."
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