LATIN AMERICAN IN CONSTRUCTION: ARCHITECTURE 1955-1980
LATIN AMERICAN IN CONSTRUCTION:
NEW YORK CITY
MAR 29 2018 - JUL 19 2015
In 1955 the Museum of Modern Art staged the exhibition Latin American Architecture since 1945, a landmark exploration of modern architecture in Latin America. On the 60th anniversary of that significant show, the Museum returned to the region to offer a complex overview of the positions, debates, and architectural creativity from Mexico and Cuba to the Southern Cone between 1955 and the early 1980s.
This period of, exploration, and complex political changes also saw the emergence of the notion of Latin America as a place of development, one in which all aspects of cultural life were colored in one way or another by a new attitude to what emerged as the “Third World.” The 1955 exhibition featured the result of a single photographic campaign, but Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955–1980 brought together a variety of original materials that had never before been shown together and which were rarely exhibited, even in their countries of origin.
"Latin America is again providing exciting and stimulating architecture and urban responses to the ongoing issues of modernization and development, though it’s complex and ever changing economic and political contexts"
The exhibition featured architectural drawings, architectural models, vintage photographs, and film clips alongside newly commissioned models and photographs. While the exhibition concentrated on the period of 1955 to 1980 in most of the countries of Latin America, it was introduced by an ample preface on the preceding three decades of architectural developments in the region, presentations of the development of several key university campuses in cities such as Mexico City and Caracas, and a look at the development of the new Brazilian capital at Brasilia. Architects met these challenges with formal, urbanistic, and programmatic innovation, much of it relevant still to the challenges faced in the 21st century, in which Latin America is again providing exciting and stimulating architecture and urban responses to the ongoing issues of modernization and development, though it’s complex and ever changing economic and political contexts.
More info at https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1456
Antonio Bonet Castellana, born in Barcelona on August 13th 1913, and who died in Ibídem on September 12th 1989 was a Catalan architect, urban planner, designer and a resident of Río de la Plata (Argentina) for the best part of his life.
Bonet was trained in two ways: on the one hand, from the teaching he received at University and on the other, from the working relationshop he formed with J. Lluis Sert, who was involved in the Modernisnt Movement, which lead to the formation in 1930 of the GATPAC.
In 1935, he became a collaborator in the work of Catalonian architects Jose Luis Sert and Torres Clavé, and a member of the GATPAC, until 1935. During this period, Bonet worked on the Roca jewelry projects, the houses in Garraf, the kindergarten and the MIDVA stand, for which he was awarded first prize at the Barcelona Decorators Show. In 1933 he attended the historic cruise aboard the Patris II, on which he was taken to Athens and attended the drafting of the Athens charter, a key event for architectural culture of the 20th century. Durning the lecture the functions of living, working, resting and circulating are enunciated as the fundamental elements to be considered in urban development. On this same trip he met Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto.
In 1936, as soon as he finished his architectural studies, he traveled to Paris where he joined Le Corbusier's studio. In Le Corbusier's studio he projected the house made by Bonet, at the request of the master: the Maison Jaoul. He also designed the main building for the Liege International Exposition, the Water Pavilion. For this work, he incorporated surrealist ideas into the functionalist architecture of the moment. This is one of the aspects that would later characterised his work.
In 1937 at the International Exposition in Paris, in which Le Corbusier presented the Pavilion Des Temps Nouveaux, Bonet collaborated with Sert in the realisation of the Spanish Pavilion, whose symbolic character was fundamental, attending to the concept of unity sought at that historical moment. This construction acted as a link between the different works of Spanish artists on display (Miró, Calder and Picasso) integrating them into architecture.
During his tenure at Le Corbusier's studio he met two young Argentine architects: Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy. The prospect of war on the horizon coupled with his new friendships led Bonet to make the move to Argentina in 1938. Once there, he formed, together with Kurchai and Jorge Ferrari, the Austral Group, which acted as the first reference to modern Argentine architecture and was in charge of spreading the basic ideas of the modernist movement, as well as offering profound criticism. He set out to study the country's urban planning problems and suggest solutions.
In June 1939 they published the Group's manifesto under the title Will and Action, in which they defended the superimposition of some values of surrealism to the rationalist training of architects, and incorporated the psychological needs of the individual into the strict functionalism of the modern movement. This manifesto exposes Bonet's stance towards architecture and his effort to establish continuity with the landscape, techniques and materials of each area.
Together with his partners, he is credited with the legendary BKF chair, although the authorship of it is finally assigned to Jorge Ferrari Hardoy.
Antonio Bonet built between 1938 and 1939 what is considered the first modern construction in Buenos Aires, a residential building on Paraguay and Siupacha streets. Later he built buildings such as the OKS house in Martínez (1954-1958) or the Rivadavia tower in Mar del Plata (1956). During the 1940s he settled in Uruguay, where he worked on the urban project for Punta Ballena, Maldonado, and built the hotel restaurant La solana del mar (1947), the La Gallarda house for the poet Rafael Alberti, and the Berlingieri house ( 1946), where Catalan vaults extend the dunes of the landscape. In these creations the freedom of forms characteristic of Bonet are observed again, but without abandoning his rationalist background.
Back in Argentina in 1950, he met again with the mechanisms of the defunct Austral Group to participate in the drafting of the Buenos Aires Plan.Antonio Bonet was undoubtedly one of the definitive links to European avant-garde architecture in Latin American architects.
In theory, he considered architecture as an matter of order in human life and believed that the activity of the architect extended from the conception of a piece of furniture to the planning of a city. One constant was the effort to integrate the varing scales of the human habitat, investigating new materials and forms to achieve architectural spaces and furniture that would be at the service of society.
It was from the Mediterranean condition of Bonet that his understanding and taste for the popular and his adherence to surrealism arose, and where the expressive character of his work resulted. On the other hand, it was his contact with the GATPAC and Le Corbusier that he opened the way to the ideas of the modern movement.
It is necessary to emphasize the importance that Bonet gave to the dynamics of space; It creates different perceptual sensations when playing with changes in scale, the different definitions that light produces through the closing and the movement of floors and ceilings. Bonet designed from a general approach, which allowed him to see the intention of the work, through the patios, terraces and galleries, to the architectural elements such as cornices, railings or closings.
Bonet was sympathetic to suggestive and imaginative environments that were manifested not only in formal resolutions, but also in the approach to spatial situations. For example, the feeling of abnormality created by the support of heavy structures by columns that give the impression of being diluted: Casa Oks (1955), La Ricarda (1953) and Castanera (1964). For these, he also used the pressure of heavy concrete structures supported at low heights, such as in the Terraza Palace building (1957), in the Silver Sea, or in the Torre del Barrio Pedralpes, in Barcelona (1973).
On his return to Spain, he followed this trend: he designed sculptural towers, such as the Cervantes (1955) or the Urquinaona Tower (1971), the most significant within this line, the project for Plaza de Castilla, Madrid (1964) and the Torre Rosas (1967).
His connection with the Mediterranean spirit manifested in the choice of materials and in the vision of his buildings. The borders between the public and the private were raised, blurring their limits and resulting in a new relationship. They were characteristic of his work of intermediate climates. He joined these two conclusions in the vaults to cover spaces uniting the traditional techniques and materials of the place. Some examples are: houses in Martínez (1940), Berlingieri's house (1947), a work in which it is easy to see Mediterranean influence; in this case the vaults define a bearing and spatial direction, unlike in the La Ricarda (1953) made on his return to Spain, where the concept evolves with the vault being the cover of a square module and supported by point and non-directional supports, thus creating a fluid and open space.
He used the alternative of using the slopes to hide the facades and achieve an integration with the landscape: Cruylles house (1967) on the Costa Brava.
The urban planning of Bonet pursued systematisation in the combination of units and the resolution of circulations and accesses. In this way he organised streets on different levels for distribution to the houses. To provide greater character to each housing unit, it endowed them with their own vitality and thus they acquired independence: the TOSA housing complex (1945) and the project for the yellow house (1943). He was also concerned about the separation of automobile and pedestrian circulation: in Punta Ballena, light bridges crossed the streets looking for the sea.
The concept of series production, so deeply rooted by the ideologues of the modern movement, evokes precision in modulation and in the creation of repeatable and combinable spatial units: Rubio house pyramids in the Mar Menor (1965). But for Bonet this aspect does not lead to repetition and fanaticism, but to the creation of coherent fields. Bonet designed furniture in its entirety: closing pieces, coverings, etc., and everything that participated in his sought-after architectural unit.
He sought simplicity of lines for his projects. This purist trend can be seen in the Oks house or in the flat Glass Pavilion of 1958, on the side façade of the Palace Terrace or in some interior spaces where a few strokes define everything.
He strove to introduce the values of surrealism to the rationalist framework, with a greater concern for individual psychology. He showed great interest in establishing integration with the landscape and with the traditions of localities. He introduced a freedom of form without abandoning functionalist character.
Achillina Bo, best know as Lina Bo Bardi, (born December 5, 1914, Rome, Italy—died March 29, 1992, São Paulo, Brazil), was an Italian-born Brazilian Modernist architect, industrial designer, historic preservationist, journalist, and activist whose work broke free from convention. She designed daring distinctive structures that merged Modernism with populism.
Bo Bardi graduated with an architecture degree in 1939 at the University of Rome, where she had studied under architects such as Marcello Piacentini and Gustavo Giovannoni. After graduating, she moved to Milan and began working with architect Carlo Pagani and started working as a design journalist. She also worked with the famous architect and designer Gio Ponti and collaborated with him on the magazine Lo Stile, while also contributing to several other Italian design publications. In 1944 she became deputy director of Domus, the acclaimed design magazine established by Gio Ponti in 1928, and retained the post until 1945. In 1945 Domus commissioned Bo Bardi, Pagani, and photographer Federico Patellani to travel through Italy documenting the destruction of World War II. Later that year she collaborated with Pagani and art critic Bruno Zevi on the short-lived magazine A – Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte, which published their judgements and verdicts which discussed ideas for restoration of the postwar devastation.
Pietro Maria Bardi, an art gallery director, dealer, and critic became her husband in 1946. Pietro was soon invited to Brazil by the media tycoon Assis Chateaubriand, to help coordinate the establishment of Art Museum of São Paulo (Museu de Arte de São Paulo; MASP). The couple as a result emigrated across the Atlantic to the modernist hotspot Sao Paulo.
For the first iteration of MASP, which opened in 1947, Bo Bardi designed the interior and the museum fittings. She developed an innovative system for suspending paintings away from the wall. (Her design was torn down in the 1990s and replaced with a conventional wall hanging system.) She also designed folding stackable chairs made from Brazilian jacaranda wood and leather, designed for use at lectures and museum events. Later in life she curated an exhibition at the museum on the history of chair design.
In 1950 Bo Bardi founded the magazine Habitat with her husband and held the position as its editor until 1953. During that time, it was the most influential architectural magazine in Brazil. She became a citizen of Brazil (1951), and started the country’s first industrial design course at the Institute of Contemporary Art (a part of the expanded MASP). She designed for her and her husband the notorious Modernist Le Corbusier influenced Casa de Vidro (Glass House), in the Morumbi neighbourhood of São Paulo. Casa de Vidro was constructed on a hill and, over time, the structure integrated into the landscape entirely. The front of the house extended out over the slope of the hill, elevated and supported on delicate looking stilts. In 1951 she also designed her most famous piece of furniture, Bardi’s Bowl, a chair in the form of an adjustable hemispherical bowl resting in a steel cradle.
By the mid-1950s it was clear that MASP had outgrown its original building, with not only galleries but also dedicated spaces for teaching art.
By the 1950s the popularity of MASP overcame the museums physical capacity. In 1958 Bo Bardi was commissioned to design the new building. The building stands today as her most dominate creation. Situated in central São Paulo, the iconic building was is elevated 8 meters above the ground on
Centrally located on São Paulo’s Paulista Avenue, Bo Bardi’s iconic glass-and-concrete building was elevated 8 meters (26.2 feet) above the ground on sizeable red pillars. The space at ground level provides a shady heaven away from hot summer sun as well as a gathering place for concerts, protests ad socializing.
In the late 1950s Bo Bardi began an extended period of living and working in Salvador, a poor city, rich in cultural heritage in the northeastern state of Bahia. She gave a number of lectures at Bahia University’s School of Fine Arts in 1958, and in 1959 she was invited create and run Bahia’s Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia). She chose to house the museum in the Solar do Unhão, a former salt mill and part of a network of historic seaside constructions that she restored in 1963. Bo Bardi added a museum of popular art and an art school to the Museum of Modern Art, all under the roof of Unhão.
However, political unrest foriced Bo Bardi to leave Bahia in 1964. Her return to São Paulo marked the beginning of Brazil’s lengthy era of oppression under a military dictatorship that lasted until 1985. During that period Bo Bardi curated exhibitions and worked in theatre, designing sets and costumes for several productions, notably a 1969 the production of Im Dickicht der Städte (In the Jungle of Cities), an early play by Bertolt Brecht.
Bo Bardi’s time in Bahia altered her political and aesthetic philosophies. The region’s examples of language and historic architecture led her to adopt a design process guided by social and ethical responsibilitiy and inspired by allegiance to her adopted country and its native aesthetic traditions. Bo Bardi dedicated herself to creating only Brazilian architecture, projecting simple designs, and sourcing local materials, the style of architecture she called “Arquitetura Povera” (“poor” or “simple” architecture). Much of her work since her initial experience in Salvador involved re design and developing existing structures as well as restoring and preserving historic buildings. Throughout the 1980s Bo Bardi led preservation and restoration projects in the historic centre of Salvador, including the House of Benin, which houses an art collection, as well as Misericórdia Hill, an extremely steep historic street (both in 1987). Her next major architecture project was the SESC Pompéia (built in stages, 1977–1986), a leisure and cultural centre in São Paulo sponsored by the nonprofit Social Service of Commerce (Serviço Social do Comércio). Bo Bardi converted an old steel drum factory into a facility for sports, theatre, and other leisure activities.
Bo Bardi, although late has been given her due as one of the most prolific women architects of the 20th century. In the mid-1980s, working with architects André Vainer and Marcelo Carvalho Ferraz, she designed an addition to the Glass House to serve as the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi (originally the Instituto Quadrante), a place to house the Bardis’ archive and dedicated to the study and exhibition of Brazilian art and architecture. In 2012, the centennial of her birth, Bo Bardi’s career was celebrated with the launching of a limited-edition line of her bowl chair, a major traveling retrospective organized by the British Council in London, and the publication of a scholarly monograph discloses her life’s work .
Luis Barragán (1902, Guadalajara, Mexico – 24th November, Tacubaya, Mexico) was a Mexican born architect and furniture designer. He was brought up in the Santa Monica neighborhood of the city of Guadalajara. His family had a farm in the countryside, a place where they spent their holidays and where Luis Barragán began to admire nature. He studied civil engineering and architecture in his home city of Guadalajara, and after graduating in 1925, left for a two-year trip to Europe. His journey on the other side of the Atlantic was one of discovery and inspiration that would shape his interest in landscape architecture later in life. He was impressed by the beauty of the many gardens and cities he visited on the continent, especially noting the Generalife of Granada, Italian villas and the long luscious Mediterranean coast.
On return to Mexico Barragan worked on residential projects in Guadalajara. In 1930 his father died, and he took over the family business. This gave him the opportunity to embark new trips. He travelled to New York and Europe and met with other prominent architects such as Konstantin Melnikov, Friedrich Kiesler and Le Corbusier, in Paris.
In 1935 he moved to Mexico City. Upon arrival he worked on projects that reflected the current international trends, but even in these early projects the features of acclaimed architectural language can be seen.
In 1940, Barragán adopted a new style, his interest in landscape architecture began to prevail. He brought a piece of land around three thousand square meters in the Tacubaya area and in 1943 built his first home, Casa Ortega. The house was designed with a large garden, comprised of many terraces, the intention was to incorporate the construction into nature, which grew in abundance around the building.
Later, in partnership with José Alberto and Luis Bustamante, he brought a piece of land to the south of the city, next to the Ciudad Universitaria. There they developed the project Jardines del Pedregal de San Ángel. Where they sought to take advantage of the area’s volcanic soil and landscape. An example of Barragan’s work on this land is the residence formerly known as Casa Prieto López, it served as the canvas for an ambitious modernist urbanization project, in which Barragán and his contemporaries sought to develop in the area while preserving the integrity of its unique ecosystem. Originally commissioned by Eduardo Prieto López, friend of the architect, Casa del Pedregal remained in the Prieto López family for decades and in 2013, it was purchased by César Cervantes, an art collector and businessman with a mission: return the structure to its original condition. Barragan was also commissioned to design the furniture within the residence. Barragán’s furniture has never been put into production and was only made for specific projects, such as Casa Prieto López. The furniture always had the same simplicity of form, tactility of material, and authenticity that is evident in all of his architecture, and were mainly produced at the latest and most mature phase of his career.
The popular architecture of Mexico's villages, ranches and convents, were a decisive influence on Barragan’s work, reflected in his use of sabino wood (also called ahuehuete or Montezuma Cypress) in his early years. The architectural richness of Barragan's sober architecture is based on a few constructive elements bound together by a mystical feeling and an austerity exalted by his brilliant colours. The result of all of his work is the exposure of the simplest elements. Luis Barragán disregarded the trends of his days and followed his instincts becoming one of the most influential architects of the 20th century
Later in the decade he sold part of his property in Tacubaya to build what would become his most representative work: the house in which he would live for forty years. The house was located at number 12-14 of General Francisco Ramirez Street. It was during this project that Barragán moved away from architectural fashions to shape his own language. The water, gardens, colours, height and sobriety of the projects became symbolic expressions of Barragan architectural stamp. These features would begin to shape the architectural landscape of Mexico City and Guadalajara.
The construction of his house began in 1947 and its modest façade is a clear contrast to the architectural work behind it. The Management of colour and light are the elements that categorize it as an unrivaled work, the harmonious construction of the interior with the exterior allow the gardens to be appreciated from inside and demonstrate the weight they carry in the design process. Pink, yellow and white are the predominant colours of the construction, as well as the green of the gardens and the ochre tones of the furniture and interior decorating.
Other noteable works include the Satellite Towers, built in collaboration with Mathias Goeritz, five large abstract towers of varying heights and colors which are used as promotional symbols identifying a residential area and which counterpoint the distant hills which surround Mexico City; and Las Arboledas (1958-61) and Los Clubes (1963-64) residential subdivisions created for horsemen, both designed with an equestrian character. Las Arboledas features water as a continuous presence throughout; fountains, water tanks, and reflection pools express the element's sounds, movements, and mirror-like surfaces. Los Clubes is the site of one of Barragan's most accomplished fountains for horses which creates a magic play of shadow and reflections against solid and liquid surfaces.
In 1976 the MOMA in New York dedicated an exhibition to him, certifying international recognition of his work. In 1980 he received the higest recognition granted to an architect worldwide, the Pritzker, considered the Nobal Prize of Architecture, being the only Mexican with this distinction so far and one of the two Latin Americans who have received this award so far, along with Oscar Niemeyer.
Towards the end of his life Barragan was suffering badly from Parkinson’s disease, which made his work ever more difficult to manage and eventually preventing him from continuing. He died on 24th November 1988 at the age of 68 in his home in Tacubaya.
The Brazilian architect and urban planner was born in Vitória, Brazil on October 25th, 1928. He belonged to a generation of modernist architects led by João Batista Vilanova Artigas, although Mendes da Rocha has stood out in recent decades as one of the best representatives of contemporary Brazilian architecture. The planned controversial projects that constantly divided and sparked debated amongst specialized critics, his Museu Brasileiro da Escultura and the portico of Praça do Patriarca, both in São Paulo, are most likely his two best-known works. He was awarded in 2006 with the Pritzker Prize, the most important in international architecture award.
De Rocha studied at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the Mackenzie University of São Paulo in 1954. When he was studying there, the university’s architecture was very much associated with neoclassicism, but Mendez soon joined a group of students interested in modern architecture (such as Jorge Wilheim or Carlos Millan). Vilanova Artigas' proposal would have a great influence on his first major project, the Clube Atlético Paulistano, as evidenced by his predilection for the use of reinforced concrete, glass enclosures and large open spaces, among other elements that would characterize the "Escola Paulista " For this project he received the prize of the VI São Paulo Architecture Biennial.
He began teaching at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo in 1961. He entered the faculty in the midst of an intense debate promoted by teachers and students about the social role of the architect. The position he took did not please the country’s military government established 1964, as subsequently his political rights were denied, and he was prohibited from teaching in 1969. He did not return to the university until 1980.
Alongside his teaching he continued to work as an artist, the same year he was expelled from the university, he accepted a commission to build the Brazilian pavilion for the Osaka Expo in 1970. But it would be from the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture in São Paulo that Mendes de Rocha's career would acquire international status. He continued to work alongside artist of importance for the rest of his career, notable projects being: The Chapel of San Pedro in Campos do Jordão; the Poupatempo Itaquera (2000); the canopy of the Plaza del Patriarca (2002); or the restoration of the neoclassical building that houses the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo, which received the Mies van der Rohe Prize for Latin American Architecture in 2001.
Ricardo Legorreta (May 7 Mexico City 1931 – 30 December 2011 Mexico City), completed his professional studies in the city he was born and died, at the UNAM National School of Architecture, where he graduated in 1952. His professional work began in 1948 in the office of the architect José Villagrán, where he collaborated as a draftsman and eventually became a Project Manager, going on to become a Partner in 1955. From 1961 to 1963 he devoted himself to free professional activity and in 1964 he founded Legorreta Arquitectos together with Noé Castro and Carlos Vargas Senior. Ricardo Legorreta became renowned for his creative interpretation original Mexican architecture: vibrant colors, geometric shapes, fountains, light-filled spaces and intimate patios are hallmarks of his style.
His career spanned over more than fifty years and he designed more than 100 projects, from museums and hotels to offices and factory buildings, university campuses, urban spaces, as well as private residences in Mexico and abroad.
His work was inspired not only by deep rooted Mexican culture but also from the colonial period. Moreover features of this work are influenced by the Islamic world for example, the incorporation of courtyards can be seen in many of his projects. The monumental architecture of Louis Kahn, was also a great inspiration to the innovative Mexican designer. One of his first buildings, the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City (1968), was one of his favourites; he said it helped him discover his Mexican roots. He had been very ill and during his recovery he created a building that is now one of his most famous works. Legorreta continued his work with the design of the Casa Montalbán in Los Angeles (1985), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Monterrey (1991), the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua (1993), Pershing Square in Los Angeles (1993), the Central Library from San Antonio in Texas (1995), the Technological Museum of Innovation in San José, California (1998), the Visual Arts Center of the University of Santa Fe, New Mexico (1999), the Juárez Complex in Mexico City ( 2003-2005), Carnegie Mellon University of Business and Computer Science in Qatar (2009), Georgetown University School of Diplomacy in Doha, Qatar (2011), and many other public and private urban buildings and spaces.
Legorreta was an artist and designer who’s worked was always alinged to the environment, he never forgot to design buildings for the people who use them. In 1999 he received the Gold Medal from the International Union of Architects (UIA) and in 2000, he became the first Latin American to receive the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA), for being an architect whose work has had an enduring influence on the history and practice of architecture. He is the only Mexican who has received the prestigious Praemium Imperiale awarded by the Japan Art Association (2011).