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 died in Ibídem on September 12th, 1989, was a Catalan architect, urban planner, designer, and 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 relationship, he formed with J. Lluis Sert, who was involved in the Modernist Movement leads to the formation in 1930 of the GATPAC.
In 1935, he became a collaborator in 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, which took him to Athens, where he participated in drafting the Athens Charter, a key event for the architectural culture of the 20th century. During the lecture, the functions of living, working, resting, and circulating were enunciated as the fundamental elements of 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 to join 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, one of the aspects that would later characterise his work.
In 1937 at the International Exposition in Paris, Le Corbusier presented the Pavilion Des Temps Nouveaux. Bonet collaborated with Sert to realise the Spanish Pavilion, whose symbolic character was fundamental, attending to the concept of unity sought at that historical moment. This construction linked 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 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 and 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. They defended the superimposition of some values of surrealism to the rationalist training of architects and incorporated the individual's psychological needs into the strict functionalism of the modern movement. This manifesto exposes Bonet's stance towards architecture and his effort to establish continuity with each area's landscape, techniques, and materials.
Together with his partners, he is credited with the legendary BKF chair, although its authorship 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, freedom of form, an emblematic characteristic of Bonet, is present 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 a matter of order in human life and believed that the architect's activity extended from the conception of a piece of furniture to the planning of a city. One constant was the effort to integrate the varying 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 is necessary to emphasize Bonet's importance to the dynamics of space; It creates different perceptual sensations when playing with changes in scale, the various 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 manifested in formal resolutions and 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). He also used the pressure of heavy concrete structures supported at low heights, such as in the Terraza Palace building (1957), the Silver Sea, or 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 the vision of his buildings. The public and private borders 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 home (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 integrate 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 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 creating coherent fields. Bonet designed furniture in its entirety: closing pieces, coverings, 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 Oaks house or 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 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. Upon graduating, Bo Bardi moved to Milan and began working with the architect Carlo Pagani 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 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 judgments and verdicts 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 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.
Bo Bardi designed the interior and the museum fittings for the first iteration of MASP, which opened in 1947. 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 intended 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 worked as the 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 neighborhood of São Paulo. Constructed on a hill, Casa de Vidro, over time, 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 galleries and dedicated spaces for teaching art. By the 1950s, the popularity of MASP overcame the museum's physical capacity. In 1958 Bo Bardi was commissioned to design the new building. The building stands today as her most dominant creation. 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 shaded heaven away from the hot summer sun and a gathering place for concerts, protests, and 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 several lectures at Bahia University's School of Fine Arts in 1958, and in 1959 she was invited to 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 forced 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 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 language and historic architecture led her to adopt a design process guided by social and ethical responsibility 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). Since her initial experience in Salvador, much of her work involved re-designing and developing existing structures and restoring and preserving historic buildings. Throughout the 1980s Bo Bardi led preservation and restoration projects in the historic center 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 center 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 center for various facilities; 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 alongside the architects André Vainer and Marcelo Carvalho Ferraz, Bo Bardi designed an addition to the Glass House, the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M Bardi (originally the Instituo Quadrante). As well as housing Bo Bardi's archive, The Instituto Lina Bo e P.M Bardi is an exhibition space dedicated to the study of Brazilian art and architecture.
In 2012, the centennial of her birth, Bo Bardi's career was celebrated with the launch 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, 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 inspired his interest in landscape architecture, which transpired 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, Barragán worked on residential projects in Guadalajara. In 1930 his father died, and he took over the family business. This opportunity lent itself to traveling. Upon his travels to New York and Europe, he met other prominent architects like Konstantin Melnikov, Friedrich Kiesler, and Le Corbusier.
In 1935 he moved to Mexico City. Upon arrival, he worked on projects that reflected the current international trends, but the features of acclaimed architectural language can be seen even in these early projects.
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 city's south, next to the Ciudad Universitaria. There, they developed the project Jardines del Pedregal de San Ángel, seeking to take advantage of the area's volcanic soil and landscape. An example of Barragán'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. Barragán and his contemporaries sought to develop in the area while preserving the integrity of its unique ecosystem. Initially, commissioned by Eduardo Prieto López, a friend of the architect, Casa del Pedregal remained in the Prieto López family for decades. In 2013, the art collector and businessman, César Cervantes, bought Casa de Pedregal to return the structure to its original condition. Barragán was also commissioned to design the furniture within the residence. Barragán's furniture was never produced 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 famous architecture of Mexico's villages, ranches, and convents, was a decisive influence on Barragán's work, reflected in his use of sabino wood (also called ahuehuete or Montezuma Cypress) in his early years. The architectural richness of Barragán's sober architecture is based on a few constructive elements bound together by a mystical feeling and an austerity exalted by his brilliant colors. 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 project's water, gardens, colors, height, and sobriety became symbolic expressions of the Barragán 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 color and light are the elements that categorize it as an unrivaled work; the harmonious construction of the interior with the exterior allows the gardens to be appreciated from inside and demonstrate the weight they carry in the design process. Pink, yellow, and white are the predominant colors of the construction, contrasting the gardens' greens and the ochre of the furniture and interior decorating.
Other notable works include the Satellite Towers, built in collaboration with Mathias Goeritz. This building consists of five large towers of varying heights and colors, used as promotional symbols identifying a residential area. The building counterpoints the distant hills surrounding Mexico City; Las Arboledas (1958-61) and Los Clubes (1963-64) residential subdivisions created for horse riders, 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 one of Barragán's most accomplished fountains for horses, creating a magical 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 highest honor granted to an architect worldwide, the Pritzker, considered the Nobel Prize of Architecture, being the only Mexican with this distinction so far and one of the two Latin Americans who have received this award along with Oscar Niemeyer.
Towards the end of his life, Barragán suffered severely from Parkinson's disease, making 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. However, 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 the Pritzker Prize in 2006, the most important international architecture award.
De Rocha studied at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the Mackenzie University of São Paulo in 1954. The university concerned itself with neoclassical architecture, but Mendez soon joined students interested in modern architecture (such as Jorge Wilheim or Carlos Millan). Vilanova Artigas' proposal would greatly influence his first major project, the Clube Atlético Paulistano. The use of reinforced concrete, glass enclosures, and large open spaces, among other elements, characterized the "Escola Paulista". De Rocha received the prize of the VI São Paulo Architecture Biennial for this project.
He began teaching at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo in 1961. He entered the faculty during 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 in 1964. They denied his political rights, and he was prohibited from teaching in 1969. He did not return to the university until 1980.
Alongside 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. However, the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture in São Paulo was the first to give Mendes de Rocha's career international status. He continued to work alongside artists 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 – December 30, 2011 Mexico City) graduated in 1952 from the UNAM National School of Architecture, the same city in which he was born and died. His professional work began in 1948 in the office of the architect José Villagrán. He collaborated as a draftsman and eventually became a Project Manager, becoming 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 of 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. He designed more than 100 projects, from museums and hotels to offices and factory buildings, university campuses, urban spaces, and private residences in Mexico and abroad.
His work was inspired not only by deep-rooted Mexican culture but also by the colonial period. Islamic architecture features in his work, as seen by the incorporation of courtyards 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 favorites; 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 aligned to the environment. He never forgot to design buildings for the people who used them. In 1999, he received the Gold Medal from the International Union of Architects (UIA). In 2000, he became the first Latin American to receive the prestigious Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for his 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).