Author Archives: Kristine

Focus on Brazil: The Church of St. Francis

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Pampulha is an engineered lake punctuated by a series of buildings in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The buildings were designed by Oscar Niemeyer, who was commissioned by Juscelino Kubitschek when he was mayor of Belo Horizonte in the 1940s. According to Andreoli and Forti, with the Pampulha complex, Niemeyer was the first to articulate Brazil’s nascent modern architecture vocabulary that would go on to shape the design of Brasilia in the late 1950s.

This image is of the Church of St. Francis, inaugurated in 1940. The load-bearing concrete vaults are met by a vertical plane of Candido Portinari’s mosaic panel, demonstrating the hybridity of Brazilian modernism. Drawing from Corbusier to Brazilian Baroque churches to colonial Portuguese tile painting, the Church of St. Francis was one of the first structures to express how plural influences paved the way for unique future synergies seen in the Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo (early 1950s) and Brasilia (late 1950s).

See: Andreoli, Elisabetta and Adrian Forty (2004) Brazil’s Modern Architecture, New York: Phaidon Press.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Chapel” in the Subject field and “Belo Horizonte” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The Roof Structure at Ibirapuera Park

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The roof structure at the Ibirapuera Park was designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1953 as an open-air passageway between the Bienale Pavilions. Floating sinuously above a concrete walkway punctuated by openings for lush vegetation, the structure has supported ad hoc activities over the course of its nearly sixty years of existence, from protests and governmental functions to street vending and skateboarding.

In distinction to contemporary parks designed for particular functions on the ground plane, the Ibirapuera roof structure project employs the roof plane to unite users, who in turn determined its function.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Ibirapuera Skate” in the Subject field and “Sao Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

 

Focus on Brazil: The Museu Afro Brasil

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The Afro-Brasil Museum (Manoel da Nóbrega Pavilion), is located in São Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park. The building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and opened in late 1953 in celebration of São Paulo’s 400th anniversary. The design exemplified a number of Le Corbusier’s Five Points of Architecture, including the use of pilotis, free plan, and the separation of the facade from the building’s structure. In the 1960s, the main level’s open continuity between the interior and the park was enclosed with glazing. The building’s 110,000 square foot interior was renovated in 2004 by Brasil Arquitetura to celebrate Brazil’s African cultural heritage. Toward this end, the museum accommodates a range of cultural programs and events that engage the community, including courses, seminars, lectures, workshops and school visitation programs. The museum contains over 3,000 items devoted to African influence and importance in Brazil’s cultural heritage; the collection includes a range of artifacts, from tribal icons to contemporary artworks.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “AfroBrasil” in the Subject field and “Sao Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The Conjunto Nacional Building

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Sao Paulo’s Conjunto Nacional Building was designed by David Libeskind and opened in 1956. Located on Paulista Avenue, the city’s most prominent boulevard of commerce, culture and public space, the Conjunto was one of Sao Paulo’s first modern buildings with a mixed-use program.

The Conjunto is divided into two primary volumes: a vertical tower housing office spaces and residences and, at the street level, a commercial center that includes a Liviaria Cultura bookstore, Cinema and a host of restaurants and small stores. The roof of the commercial center is occupiable and contains two penthouse structures, one of which was occupied until 1968 by the Fasano restaurant known for its infamous dancing dinners. Like the galleries in Central Sao Paulo, the Conjunto Nacional reconfigures the massive street block through a series of internal pedestrian passages paved with black and white Portuguese tiles, merging Brazil’s colonial past and modern future.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Conjunto Nacional” in the Subject field and “Sao Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The Musem of Contemporary Art

 

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The Museum of Contemporary Art was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and inaugurated in 1996. Perched on a peninsular cliff in Niteroi, the museum affords spectacular views across the Guanabara Bay to Rio de Janeiro.

Primary exhibition spaces are located within a circular volume that looms above a reflection pool within a vast open plaza, linked by a sinuous entrance ramp paved with red carpet. While the outer corridor of the volume affords 360 degree views around the building, a series of inner circular galleries display the work of contemporary Brazilian and international artists. Underground programs of an auditorium and restaurant serve as subterranean departures from the otherworldly experience of the circular volume, the two realms offering complementary but distinct experiences of a singular project.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Museum of Contemporary Art” in the Subject field and “Rio de Janeiro” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The Guaimbé Building

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The Guaimbé Building in São Paulo, Brazil was designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha and J. de Gennaro and completed in 1962. As the city’s first Brutalist style residential building, the Guaimbé was a key project for distinguishing the Paulista School of architecture (São Paulo) from that of the Carioca School (Rio de Janeiro), whose roots can be traced to the International Style.

Situated on a long and narrow site, the building has fourteen floors, each floor with one unit. Utilizing the concept of a gallery plan, spaces are interlocked around three curvilinear walls that delineate dining, bathroom, powder room and master suite shower. To ensure that the interior spaces would always receive light, the tower maintains significant distance from the site’s frontal and lateral limits.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Guaimbe” in the Subject field and “São Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The Miguel Rio Branco Gallery

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The Miguel Rio Branco gallery was designed between 2008 and 2010 by the office of Arquitetos Associados in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is one of several galleries located in the Inhotim Sculpture Park whereby architects are charged with designing appropriate gallery space for artists chosen for permanent exhibition.

The project is inspired by an image taken by the artist of a large boulder in the landscape. To yield a sense that the cor-ten structure is looming above the lush Brazilian forest, the entry level is buried into a hill and concealed, initiating a gallery tour through cavernous spaces emphasizing Rio Branco’s haunting images of street life, poverty, and the often unexpected plight of people living in Brazil today. Introspective in nature, the Miguel Rio Branco gallery approximates the user to the country’s darker side, provoking a reconsideration of how architecture and art have a shared social purpose to subtly reveal the simultaneous exuberance and decay that characterize present day Brazil.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Inhotim” in the Subject field and “Brumadinho” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection

Focus on Brazil: The California Building

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The California Building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Carlos Lemos in 1951 and completed in 1955.  Along with the Eiffel (1956) and Copan (1959), the California was one of several projects responsible for offering the first high-rise, mixed-use housing options for urban dwellers in the city center.

While all three projects offer innovation in façade and plan, the California is most exceptional for building out the lot in order to maximize sellable retail and residential space and for reconfiguring the urban block to connect Barão de Capanema and Dom José de Barros streets.  While the street level is maintained for public use, the upper floors are accessible only by residents, a logic repeated in the construction of the Eiffel and, to a much larger scale, the Copan. As Angelo Bucci points out in his book Reasons for Architecture (2011), because “gallery” buildings such as the California combine public space and more than double the available retail space with an inner pedestrian street, they reflect hybrid approaches that successfully integrate interests oriented toward the public good and the real estate market.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “California” in the Subject field and “São Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection.

Focus on Brazil: The Copan

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Located in the center of São Paulo, the Copan Building was designed by Oscar Niemeyer and constructed between 1957 and 1966. The sinuous S-shaped building has approximately 1,160 apartments and diverse retail establishments on the ground level, from art galleries and high-end restaurants to key makers and Laundromats. The Copan is one of São Paulo’s most iconic buildings and one of the most active addresses in the city center because of the number of inhabitants concentrated in one building and the extent to which the Copan offers practical and cultural amenities.

Distinct from its predecessor, the Eiffel, the Copan was designed to provide housing for a wide variety of incomes and lifestyles. Apartments are organized around six blocks and range from a “kitnet” or studio to apartments of three or four bedrooms. Which are distributed vertically. From the highest floors and the front façade, it is possible to see the Jaraguá Peak to the northeast, the highest in the state of São Paulo. From the rear façade, views range from the Sé Cathedral to Paulista Avenue, rendering the Copan the center of the Center of São Paulo.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Copan” in the Subject field and “São Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection.

Focus on Brazil: The Eiffel Building

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The Eiffel Building is the second of three residential buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Carlos Lemos in the 1950s located in the center of São Paulo. It is distinguished for its didactic façade whereby service quarters are identified by punctuated concrete screens alongside the living spaces’ floor to ceiling glass. Additionally, the Eiffel offering the first two-story, high-rise luxury apartments of two, three and four bedrooms targeted toward families.

The Eiffel Building consists of a central rectangular volume of twenty-three stories and two angled side wings that offer views of the Republic Square, one of the city’s most predominant central parks. The building’s gentle U-shape supports a small double-sided ground floor level retail corridor while creating floor plans with distinct views of the city center.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Eiffel” in the Subject field and “São Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection.

Focus on Brazil: Guinle Park

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Located in Rio de Janeiro, Guinle Park was designed by Lúcio Costa in the early 1940s when he was director of Brazil’s Federal Department of Historic Preservation and Arts (IPHAN). Originally conceived as a series of six residential buildings situated around what were previously grounds of the Guinle Mansion, only three buildings were ultimately constructed: Nova Cintra (1948), the Bristol (1950) and the Caledonia (1954).

Each of the three structures is elevated off of a natural granite foundation with pilotis, creating a double height space for car and pedestrian circulation and entry. The wood brise soleil façades are modern renditions of vernacular colonial country houses, a reflection of Costa’s reputation for infusing European modernism with characteristics that are distinctly Brazilian. Such contextualization of modernism is carried out in the façade. While on one hand modular and ordered, the differentiation in color, texture and openings of Guinle’s brise soleil echo the vast variations of the surrounding flora and urban life.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Guinle” in the Subject field and “Rio de Janeiro” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection.

Focus on Brazil: The Minhocão

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The Minhocão or “big earthworm” is an elevated expressway that was constructed in 1969 under the Maluf mayoral administration to move traffic east to west through the city center. A civil engineer, Maluf was responsible for São Paulo’s largest infrastructure projects. Yet  rather than “lift” the problem of transit off of the ground with concrete, the Minhocão wrecked physical and social havoc on the central neighborhoods through which it passed.

As a result, community groups and urbanists have fought for the closure of the Minhocão since its inauguration. Consistent protest resulted in its closure to traffic on Sundays and holidays beginning in 1976, an accord that expanded to include the hours between 9pm and 5am in the 1990s. During these scheduled windows of time, the Minhocão changes from a river of vehicles to a valuable urban resource filled with bikers, joggers, children, street venders, samba bands and city residents of all stripes.  As a platform for community engagement, the Minhocão is an example of how a public ill can be transformed into a public good with limited resources and an abundance of creativity.

Find images of this project by searching the VRC’s online image collection using the search terms “Minhocão” in the Subject field and “São Paulo” in the City field.

Photograph by Kristine Stiphany, courtesy UTSOA Visual Resources Collection.