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ENGLISH TEXT industry and ideally connected with primitive techniques17.

And this primitivism,

which is expressed in the raw appearance of the bare concrete means for the
PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA | THE TECHNIQUE AND THE “ART OF BUILDING” bourgeois society of the time, an aggressive architecture and an incomplete work.
The architect answers these criticisms, explaining the simplicity of his art as a
Maria Isabel Villac commitment to society:
Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism “Architecture is not guided by a distant aesthetic of social reality. On the contrary,
Mackenzie Presbyterian University
it can only exist if it is located in this reality, so that together it can carry out the
The intentionality of the project adventure of living. [...] The constructions in concrete, simple and essential, show
that the architecture can and should relate to people”18.
The architecture of Paulo Mendes da Rocha articulates two plans; integrated and The moment in which bare concrete architecture was proposed for a social
overlapping. The first one respects a highly technical procedure, open to the territory purpose, in Brazilian society - bourgeois, traditional and stratified - and opposed
of knowledge. The second one resides in the imagination, shaped by observing the
to the immobility of this stratification, this same society rejects this technique and
changes of nature, directed towards the construction of habitat, which expands as
qualifies it as “radical”. And as a result, denies that this architecture is an operation
historic compromise “beyond strict necessity; joie de vivre and erotic desire to project
related to ordinary life and achieves the idea of breaking​​ the order of the forms with
and express the urban space to build as part of an experience [...]”2
the established social order which remain neutralized by the suggestion that it is
What articulates these two plans to creative activity is the reasoning of the project,
simply a laboratory experiment.
“always with the idea of ​​model experimental test.”3 So that the strength and virtue
But, the passing of time has shown that the spaces projected stimulated the
of a project that is social, are revealed in the functional and expressive aspects that
expansion of consciousness and the option to build with exposed concrete is not
define the spatial configuration. It also certifies that this “socialism” is revealed in a
poetic that favors the relationship between aesthetic emotion and stimulation to the
“The stripping of the aesthetic attributes of the building. Before it was a commitment
understanding of the historic life because it “speaks of human knowledge about its own
between the plan of culture and contemporary techniques, able to deal with the
existence and social manifestation of culture” 4 which does not allow for sublimation.
problem of massive construction and industrialization of construction”19. “The
The project, which is presented as “an understood and desired arrangement”5 seeks
reinforced concrete is a technique used as long as it is good for the performance of
expression and creating living spaces as a given of the present provocateur of future.
a project. If aesthetics and structures are extracted from the living plan, the use of
For the architect, architecture
concrete is not from the existential philosophies, but rather sought to condition them
“ an inquiry, always. Inquiry by identifying the value of the content of the future
to the practice of the art”20.
- see the future taking shape, the genesis of the future walking the streets, in the
The choice of the technique and the specificity of concrete, according to the
spaces of the city, with features that are emerging in time, weaving history, a project
architect, aligned the philosophy of existence in its social projection. This resulted in
in a constant state of revelation - embracing the future - to the imagination a set of
sensitivity and a morality that pierced the individual limits to achieve the educational
shapes, buildings, towards an ideal scenario capable of improving illuminate the real
possibilities that could be written by a whole culture and connect with universality.
existence, that speaks of knowledge about one’s existence as a social manifestation
of human culture. A Monumental work”6. Therefore, rationalism in the architecture of Mendes da Rocha is hinted in the meaning
and intends the project at aiming to reveal “as a clear commitment to the ideals of
The technique and the art of building freedom, independence and the search for an identity between idea and design”21.
The architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha is a builder of architectures. The constructor For Mendes da Rocha, objectivity is not the idea of the “world” but “the world.” It is
cultivated the technique. The architect-builder produces devices that harbor human from the consciousness of the concrete world - processing through the appropriation
existence, once the “architecture is the making and producing things that allow human of constructive thought - the architect conceived the world of ideas21. The project is a
existence”7. “The architect-builder houses the art and aesthetics in the same procedure”8. manifestation of consciousness located in the world, and the architecture is a tectonic
Making architecture is transforming the nature and en-gender actions of building- and poetic choice to be manifested in its material integrity. The field defines the poetic
techniques of existential magnitude because for the architect, “we are managers and architect, so that meaning is in the “temporality” of the technical development of
the result of a chance to dwell and live”9. The technical capacity of man - that requires an age, but also on the principle purpose of the project designing architecture that
a rational process - allows for what has been anticipated, emotionally, on the horizon “breaks downs the superfluous “24.
of desire, in which “one falls in love with one thing, projected onto it feasible desires”10. In the work of Mendes da Rocha, architecture is the art of matter and expresses a
The technique and the constructive action “organized the first emotion”11. worldview that speaks of solid values. If you could say that matter is also a concept
The technique is an act of knowledge and invention of a process, since “the 25, this definition translates as a desire for contact and solidarity; sense of reality;
imagination is a human issue and eminently technical. Those who imagine something, elemental affinity with life. Matter is the first relationship with the world, with nature
has to, therefore, know how to make that thing”12. The technique allows access to the and things. It is what endures, which embodies the ideas. Matter condenses the size
evidence on the configuration, of the world view, and offers the possibility of making a of human labor and consequently, the potential creator. The matter involves the laws,
wish. For the modernity of Mendes da Rocha, the world of technique is no stranger to usages and intentions of all genres; it has within itself a formal vocation and brings
the human dimension. Technical knowledge is available. For the architect, what drives about technical relations.
technical action is essentially a vital program. A desire13 to be carried out with the idea At the same time limit and possibility, the material guides the process of its own
of an
​​ experimental model transformation. Matter reports to the imagination; suggested configurations and
“[...] If a design that always follows the idea of matrix,
​​ capable of producing other illuminates the expressive content of the work. Imagining is not aimless wandering
projects”14 as opportunities to build ‘[...] moving transformations ahead of what we without purpose, but involves a cultural and selective attitude of the subject. Imagining
now know about the past and what want in the future”15. is thinking, in particular, the design, because “the imagination requires abstraction.
For both the architect and his generation, in architecture “forms come from the Not the construction! “.
‘procedures’ of construction, however, still nothing would be radically Cartesian Architecture has to “establish, with raw materials, moving relations” matter
nothing” 16. As in the work of other architects of this group, the architecture of Mendes produces tangible quality artifacts, promotes the realization of the intention of
da Rocha, in principle, has an intrinsic cultural value and an expression not conforming defining the form and character of a specific form. Matter and formative intention are
to the unequal realities of society, and want to be able to reveal the contradictions connected. The transformation of matter is the means of making concrete, productive
of historical and social reality in the context of culture. It is in the interpretation of and necessary work. The choice of a subject is implicit in the definition of the form, in
programs expressed in unusual spaces for the purpose of changing social attitudes. its operational nature.
The participation of the technological emancipation process being a contribution to the The decision for a “main” material as a writing for the form is, in the architecture
development of the technique of reinforced and pre-stressed concrete, attached to the of Mendes da Rocha, a choice that stems from the idealist aesthetics. The reduction
transgressive meaning of the work. to a single matter is a principle of economy (Malevich), but also the saturation of the
surfaces (Matisse), exaltation of the pictorial quality and texture of the formed material.
The material transformation Matter, given as a limit, wants to induce the perception of an invariant
Confirmation and the option for exposed concrete at the end of the 1950s, is part of a constructive experience and core structure. It suggests an immediate perception of
formal renewal revealing a particular system of expression of Brazilian architecture. the aesthetic aspect of the pure forms and opening awareness of the complexity of
In fact, it denounces a particular worldview of society and wagers that the notion of space: it wants to surprise intuition and promote contact with the organic nature of
order and uneven moral tradition can be transformed. Mendes da Rocha, and other the work.
architects who decide for the bare concrete construction, inaugurated the beginning
of a new way of thinking about architecture that takes place in the dialectic between The mixed materiality
experimental research and aesthetic expression. The modernity of Mendes da Rocha, which begins in the modern area of the​​
The technique of reinforced concrete and later pre-stressed concrete, in recent years 1950-1960, is done with the art works constructed with concrete and in the
118 years, are considered suitable for the development possibilities of the construction last three decades, rescues the lesson of his first major work, the Gymnasium of

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the Paulistano Club (1957-1961) - which combines concrete and steel - and again Furthermore, it is desirable to concentrate the loads on a false area filled with
proposes a mixed materiality, which maintains the association of both materiality, material dredged from the port and contained by a wall previously made of ​​ rock.
the elemental force of expressiveness. An embankment, therefore, reaching the sea, a floor of seawater requesting the
The sharpness and concentration of the qualities of the nature of matter, which concentration of loads because it faces, at once the construction of pneumatic shoes.
structures work and how they can translate, is expressed in concrete and steel. That is the technique used in shipbuilding.
The complexity of such a proposition requires clarity, efficiency and especially the In turn, the theater, which requires continuous spans over 20 meters, when
demonstration of the technical virtues of a “materialistic” hybrid, mestizo architecture considered from the same unlikely soil, is designed supported in the embankment.
that combines two types of perception. On one hand, the concrete connecting with The program, preset, needed to house opera performances and of course an orchestra
the base of consciousness, with primitive stages related to intuition and resonance pit. So, we thought it would be better to raise it from the land which would result in the
of the primordial nature. The character of primitive stone translates into weight, audience being too high. This made us realize that it would be interesting to put the
strength, durability, opacity; the vigorous aspect that confers the “virtues” to the work, stage, orchestra towards the Avenue and the volume for the audience facing the dock
it awakens the senses and perception of everlasting slowness. Furthermore, the metal with supports in the sea to favor its use under a great height. Creating a protected area
in its simple form, which offers no resistance to the surrounding atmosphere, retains for cafeterias, similar to Venice.
no memory, but incorporates mobility, weight reduction, high density and gravity. Its In the Coach Museum in Lisbon, although with another program, which inspires
lightness, dynamism and reversibility imprint movement to the resistance. more or less the same picture, that is, the principle that the museum was inserted
in the urban context in a way to be visited and to wander the city. The site is very
Quay of Arts, the Coach Museum and USP Museum
expressive with the presence of old houses protected by the historical heritage, located
In projects that pray to be published, - The Quay Arts Center, Coach Museum and in the region of Bethlehem, for us, it is even more significant because it is from there
USP Museum-highlight some key ideas that guide projects and share some important that the ships go in the direction to Brazil.
similarities - First, the similarity in the functional program that, in the three projects, The territory is also an embankment above the sea with groundwater at 50 cm below
harbors culture art or science as well as the lesson in urbanism that occurs at the site ground. Again we raise construction and proposed a closed box to house the collection
and designing in the three works a quality of contextualization with the environment. of coaches, and the earthy floor free for coffee shops, walks and meetings.
Be in the respectful and complementary coexistence with proximity to nature and As this exhibition space is very wide and with a height of 10 meters, it was hard to
the frontality of the water project in the Quay of Arts; either by the urban context in imagine how to turn these great spaces offices, restaurant and conference hall.
which the work lives with the consolidated city, and the Coach Museum; either in the The site also had a formal irregularity, precisely in the enclave to the protected
invention of a new statute fill it finds a way to live with the “naturalness” of difficult area, which guided the decision to locate these areas in an annex building and propose
topography, in the USP Museum. an aerial link between the two buildings that enter the museum building halfway
Moreover, there is a particular affinity that goes with of the large-scale buildings that up. Ending up setting a restructuring of public space that coexists with the internal
guides the design and trace structures for a constructive partnership approach that organization of the buildings; an idea of ​​architecture that is built both inside and
uses the distinguished virtues of concrete and steel, whose grace or merit is revealed outside, adjusting to the place and letting you enjoy all this area.
in the tectonic and explicitness of the work. The three projects show a clear structure, The arrangement of spaces in the pavilion of the museum proposes a building with
with few robust elements, articulated, and whose syntax of the resulting shape a central core of activities that support exhibition and visitation spaces at the edges
translates the clarity of the stress phenomenon of the concrete -heavy- that anchors aligned in the longitudinal extension. The structure consists of four metal beams
the steel in its lightness. largely triangulated, supported on concrete pillars, with articulated links to withstand
The three works clarify reasoning in the project in which the aesthetic requirements, any earthquakes. The spans in its transversal extension are 20 meters in the edge
strengths of materials, technique, purpose and circumstances concur to establish links beams and 12 meters in the central bay. The exterior metal beams are supported by
between architecture, society and culture. three pillars each, with an overhang at the ends, and are completely coated. The beams
Explaining the similarities - in the words of Paulo Mendes da Rocha30 in the middle, in turn, supported on 4 pillars each, are covered only in part, so as to
“The grace that these works have together is the convening of the techniques that provide, on the links of the triangulation, three main transverse circulations in the core
were designed. and at the ends.
You see, the Quay of Arts houses a museum and a theater combined to support Already in the Museums of the USP - which combines three museums and an
the culture of the city. However, it was thought that this association should not be in a auditorium - there is intrigue, and is particularly interesting, because, by decision of
single building, since the activities are very dissimilar. The museum requires a large the University of São Paulo, is part of the demand for these museums, the desire for
area of ​​fluid visitation space for art and preservation thereof; theater, in turn, requires the public to visit may occur while scientists work. What creates a contradiction that
silence, rehearsal rooms, etc... One is dynamic; the other is more static. They are makes us see that the vertical distribution of space is, in principle, the ideal solution, as
buildings that differ in their purpose and whose virtues should be explicit in its real the lift is a machine that allows the crossing that does not open at all levels, allowing
existence, once constructed. the museum visit without disturbing the researchers. Visitation is at three heights, one
The association that the project suggest is organized on an 300 meter embankment at the entrance, one on the roof, which has an interesting landscape to enjoy and in the
facing the sea with 70 meters at its transverse extension, in two buildings and a square land which is the place where you can find everything.
between them, anticipating some indoor and outdoor living. Well, associating multiple vertical buildings simply on the ground floor, we
There is, in the case of the city of Victoria, in particular, a dynamic characteristic create a road linking the vertical museums at half height, a variety of lobbies and
of the dock entrance, the movement of ships in the harbor that, by itself, exhibits the enjoyment areas, common to all, the device that connects the museums in the same
dock work with a museum-type nature. The arrangement is chosen, therefore, from dimension, is nothing but a covered bridge, a street with cafes, balconies, places for
the possibility of viewing this extraordinary work, already considered as art. That is, computers, etc.., where the common life of the city is promoted. The association of
the start of the project decides to expose, with a particular theater and a particular museums built a circumstance so that each building has its autonomy, but also a
museum, which was already there, as spectacle and scenery, which guided the shared space. Undoubtedly, this is a monumental perspective more than just one
decision to lift off the ground this great museum building, in line with pedestrian sight, museum beside another.
and thus achieving a continuous floor reaching the inexorable limit of the rectified wall This passage is even more interesting because the site has a peculiar topography
on the oceanfront. and this bridge also connects two other distant areas, building a cultural territory
Naturally, if the Art Museum rises from the ground and the idea that fluctuation is inserted in the urban context of the University.
inexorable, the need arises for a particular framework to achieve this with intelligence, From the technical point of view, the buildings have a structural concrete core
a request to which the proposed project addresses with a few concrete pillars to and elements of infrastructure and vertical circulation also with reinforced concrete
support the large box. structure. Structural peripheral walls are bare concrete. The connecting street, in
By imagining that the Museum has tall rooms, and the same height of the Museum turn, rests on concrete pillars and the span between them receives a metal frame to
building supports various heights within controlled environments, the proposal is prevent shaking.
to construct the building with large longitudinal beams of large span, each with The Quay Art Center, the Coach Museum, USP Museum and Fitness Club Fitness
two 50 meter spans and cantilevers of 25 meters at both ends, supported on three Club propose a structural association that is made of concrete and steel that while
pillars. That is, the museum is divided into two beams of concrete, 150 meters long, seductive, is clear and obvious by strict application of the technique that guides
10 meters high, far enough to construct the interiors and receive, in the transverse, constructive decision of a choice from a known language. It is a discourse of knowledge
another structure, now light, easy to mount internally, a logical choice. They then in dialogue with context and engineering.
planned 20 meter wide rooms, which is a distance that is achieved with a structure of It is concluded, therefore, is that the project is always an argument of ideas before
metal beams, about three feet high, arranged inside the building, as a whole, without the work is constructed. The grace of the architecture is that it exists in the imagination
centering. These beams could be prefabricated in concrete, but the presence of the before the building. However, the desideratum or desire is the appropriation and
shipyard where the pre-eminence of metal construction stands guided the decision to enjoyment that only blooms after the inauguration of the work. Construction is proof
use steel structure. that the ideas and calculations are well articulated. Of the work, when completed, 119

someone might say, ‘that was not there before. “Not only in Vitoria, São Paulo and logic and working organic resistance», Eduardo Torroja, Razón y ser de los tipos estructurales,
Lisbon, but the universe itself, if photographed by satellite. The human adventure is a Madrid: Instituto Eduardo Torroja de la construcción y del cemento, 3rd edition, no publication
wonderful thing, especially when incorporated into the daily life of the city”. date s p. 400.
9 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, entrevista ao autor. “A construção do olhar de Paulo Mendes da
Rocha”. Entrevista. In: Paulo Mendes da Rocha com Maria Isabel Villac. América, Cidade e
-- Betons - matière d’’architecture, París: Editions Régirex - France, 1991. Natureza. Coleção Arquitetos, volume 01. São Paulo: Editora Estação Liberdade 2012 p. 28
-- FERRO, Sergio. Concreto aparente impõe-se em prazo curto. Testimony. In: revista O Dirigente 10 “A construção do olhar de Paulo Mendes da Rocha”, cited interview,p. 58.
Construtor nº 11, v. I, São Paulo: sep. 1965, pp. 41-60. 11 ”A construção do olhar de Paulo Mendes da Rocha”, cited interview, p. 59.
-- FRAMPTON, Kenneth. “Rappel a l’Ordre: Em Defesa da Tectônica”. In: Gávea Revista de 12 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “De um traço nasce a arquitetura”, cited interview p. 39.
História da Arte e Arquitetura, no. 12, Rio de Janeiro: Departamento de História da Pontifícia
13 « The technique is not necessarily the first. [...] to the technique is fixed a finality in which
Universidade Católica, dez. 1994, pp. 307-319.
it should follow. The vital program is pre-technique [...] there is, therefore, a pre-technical
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo A. “Concreto aparente impõe-se em prazo curto”. Depoimento. In:
intervention, the intervention par excellence, which is the original desire. », José Ortega y
revista O Dirigente Construtor nº 11, v. I, São Paulo: September. 1965, p. 41-60.
Gasset, Meditación de la técnica, Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1961, 4th edition, p. 47.
-- “Uma casa concreta”. Entrevista. In: revista Artes nº 20, seção Arquitetura, São Paulo. 1970, one 14 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Ideia e desenho”, cited text, one page only.
page only.
15 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Tietê... Futuro desenhado”. In: Anais II Bienal Internacional de
-- “Ideia e desenho”. In: jornal Folha de São Paulo, caderno especial Folhetim, São Paulo:
Arquitetura, São Paulo: ago/set 1993, p. única.
10/05/1981, one page only.
17 “A construção do olhar de Paulo Mendes da Rocha”, entrevista citada, p. 38.
-- ”Desenho urbano, uma forma de compreender e transformar”. Entrevista a Vanda F. Pinto. In:
18 «o concreto à vista se justifica por evidenciar certas atitudes teóricas. Enquanto não for
revista Projeto, n.º 113, São Paulo, August. 1988, pp. 124-125.
possível a industrialização em larga escala [...] Sua racionalização, despreocupada com
-- “Tietê... Futuro desenhado”. In: Anais II Bienal Internacional de Arquitetura, São Paulo: August/ sutilezas formais e requintes de acabamento, associada a uma interpretação correta de
September 1993, one page only. nossas necessidades, favorece o surgimento de uma arquitetura sóbria e rude, e estimula uma
-- “Arquitectogramas”. In: Ciclo de conferencias Less is more. Organized by Josep-María atividade criadora viva e contemporânea. O concreto aparente é uma dessas técnicas simples,
Montaner and Vittorio Savi. Program inlcuded in the activities in the UIA Congress Barcelona: relacionado, inclusive, com a nossa taipa.», Sergio Ferro, “Concreto aparente impõe-se em
1996. Unpublished. prazo curto”, revista O Dirigente Construtor nº 11, v. I, São Paulo: set. 65, page 44.
-- “De um traço nasce a arquitetura”. In: revista Arc Design, nº 01, São Paulo: Quadrifoglio, s/f, 19 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Uma casa concreta”. Entrevista. In: revista Artes nº 20, seção
pp. 36-39. Arquitetura, São Paulo. 1970, one page only
-- “Um olhar sobre a cidade real”. In: revista Caramelo nº 3, editada pelo GFAU - Grêmio da 20 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Concreto aparente impõe-se em prazo curto”, cited text, p. 44.
Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da USP - Universidade de São Paulo, s/f, pp. 32-33. 21 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Uma casa concreta”, cited text, one page only
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo; VILLAC, Maria Isabel. “A construção do olhar de Paulo Mendes 22 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Ideia e desenho”, cited text, one page only
da Rocha”. Entrevista. In: Paulo Mendes da Rocha com Maria Isabel Villac. América, Cidade e
23 « What we call idea is necessarily linked to an act of expression and owes its appearance to
Natureza. Coleção Arquitetos, volume 01. São Paulo: Estação Liberdade, 2012, pp. 27-87.
autonomy.», Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Fenomenología de la percepción, Barcelona: Planeta De
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo; VILLAC, Maria Isabel. “Cais das Artes, Museus dos Coches, Museus Agostini, 1993, p. 399.
da USP: afinidades de projeto”. Interview held for this paper. São Paulo: 14th August 2013.
24 «Desde sua emergência consciente em meados do século XIX como os escritos de Karl
-- MERLEAU-PONTY. Maurice. Fenomenología de la percepción. Barcelona: Planeta De Bottischer e Gottfried Semper, o termo tectônica não apenas indica a integridade material e
Agostini, 1993. estrutural de uma obra mas também conotações poéticas subjacentes ao modo específico de
-- MOTTA, Flávio. “Pavilhão do Brasil, Osaka, 1969”, memória do projeto. Versão publicada sua construção.»., Kenneth Frampton, “Rappel a l’Ordre: Em Defesa da Tectônica”, In: Gávea
com o título “Arquitetura brasileira para a EXPO 70”. In: Revista Acrópole, nº. 372, ano XXXII, Revista de História da Arte e Arquitetura, no. 12, Rio de Janeiro: Departamento de História da
São Paulo: February 1970. Pontifícia Universidade Católica, dez. 1994, p. 309.
-- ORTEGA Y GASSET, José. “Meditación de la técnica”. Madrid: Revista de Occidente, 1961, 4th 25 Flávio Motta, “Pavilhão do Brasil, Osaka, 1969”, Project report
edition. 27 «Le béton brut, parfois, comme le dit Christian de Portzamparc, «tout autant qu’une matière,
-- OSTROWER Fayga. “Materialidade, linguagem”. In: Criatividade e processos de criação. est un concept».», Claude Parent (Prefacio), Betons - matière d’’architecture, París: Editions
Petrópolis: Vozes, 1987 6th edition. Régirex - France, 1991, p. 27.
-- PAREYSON, Luigy. Estética - Teoria da formatividade. Petrópolis: Vozes, 1993. 28 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Arquitectogramas”. In: Ciclo de conferencias Less is more.
Organized by Josep-María Montaner and Vittorio Savi. Program included in the activities of the
-- VILLAC, Maria Isabel. “La construcción de la mirada - Naturaleza, Ciudad y Discurso en la
UIA Congress Barcelona: 1996. Unpublished.
Arquitectura de Paulo Archias Mendes da Rocha”. Disseration presented in the Superior School
29 «O que aqui chamamos de “pensar específico sobre um fazer concreto” [...] Trata-se de formas
of Architecture in Barcelona, University Cataluña, en February 2002. Tutoríal by Josep Quetglas.
Unpublished. significativas [...] porque através da matéria assim configurada, o conteúdo expressivo se torna
passível de comunicação.», Fayga Ostrower, “Materialidade, linguagem”. In: Criatividade e
-- TORROJA, Eduardo. Razón y ser de los tipos estructurales. Madrid: Instituto Eduardo Torroja de
processos de criação, Petrópolis: Vozes, 1987 6ª ed. p. 33.
la construcción y del cemento, 3rd edition, no publication date.
30 The formality is not an abstraction. In: Luigy Pareyson, Estética - Teoria da formatividade,
Notes and references Petrópolis: Vozes, 1993.
1 This text is constructed from “La construcción de la mirada - Naturaleza, Ciudad y Discurso en la 31 Ver Henri Bergson, Materia y memoria.
Arquitectura de Paulo Archias Mendes da Rocha”. Dissertation presented in the Superior School 32 An interview with Paulo Mendes da Rocha, for this publication São Paulo: 14th August 2013.
of Architecture of Barcelona, Polytechnic University of Cataluña, February 2002. Unpublished.
2 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Um olhar sobre a cidade real”, In: revista Caramelo nº 3 edited by
GFAU - Grêmio da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da USP - Universidade de São Paulo, MENDES DA ROCHA. DIAGRAMS OF ENERGY AND STRENGTH
s/f, p. 33. Josep Maria Montaner
3 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Um olhar sobre a cidade real”, cited text, p. 32. School of Architecture of Barcelona-UPC

4 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Um olhar sobre a cidade real”, cited text p. 32.
In addition to the beautiful and simple models of pure volumes made with white ​​
5 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Desenho urbano, uma forma de compreender e transformar”, cardboard, each work of Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha (1928) is explained
Entrevista a Vanda F. Pinto. In: revista Projeto, n.º 113, São Paulo, August. 1988, p. 124. by conceptual and schematic drawings, which can be considered as kinds of diagrams,
6 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Um olhar sobre a cidade real”, texto citado, p. 32. sometimes on the ground floor and generally in section; sections that are always drawn
on human scale. These diagrams synthesize the public, court and protection of the
7 Paulo A. Mendes da Rocha, “Ideia e desenho”, In: jornal Folha de São Paulo, caderno especial building, like a portico, a museum or a faculty. The trace of the lines will determine
Folhetim, São Paulo: 10/05/1981, p. única. what the structure will be. And this leads us to talk about the successful tradition of the
8 « the same aesthetic perception is not complete without the understanding of the essential diagrams of strength. The diagrams are not understood as mere formal repertoires,
120 reasons that the work gives its perfection through the static combination of all its elements and but as lines of force and loads prior to the realization of the structural systems. If one

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of the limits of the formal use of diagrams is its excessive abstraction and its tendency In other projects, Mendes da Rocha had already experimented with the idea of ​​
to postpone the moment of materiality to a stage that is a little too late, the diagrams a large flat and lightweight portico, suspended in the air and sustained by very few
of strength and structures, such as the plasmas Paulo Mendes da Rocha, have the points; from the Store Form Store in São Paulo (1987-1994) to the Park School of Art
quality to transport from the beginning some of the DNA of matter and material. In and Science in Santo André (2003). It is what was carried out in the Brazilian Pavilion
this engineering interpretation, the diagram seeks the quickest, the shortest and at Expo Osaka in 1970, his conceptual work, pinnacle in that, organic land was covered
most effective calculation to carry loads to the ground through vertical and inclined by a concrete slab, recreating the relationships between the natural and organic
elements of porticos and columns; seek to minimize the potential energy of the load with construction and technique. (Fig. 02) Again, influences of the two masters João
and maximize the energy charging voltage of the structure. In this sense, the plot has Vilanova Artigas and Oscar Niemeyer were evident: the horizontal slab covering the
to do with the certainty that any entity organized in a program and a form, consists of a large public space in the Plaza del Café, and the full and formal support of a single
system of forces, the certainty that the universe is only matter and energy. pillar supported by two crossed arches.
This line of thinking and project has a background in the load diagrams used by Also the project presented by Mendes da Rocha for the George Pompidou
Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) for his monumental works. The most famous is the funicular Centre in Paris contest (1971) (Fig. 03), a gigantic platform of continuous spaces
model, made of rope, which he made for the Crypt of Colonia Güell project. Catenary supported by four rows of pillars, announced the suspended forms and the inclined
shapes that also inspired its extraordinary unrealized project for Hotel Attraction Hotel planes of the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo. And if
in New York. (1908)1. this first museum project was an ideal prototype, pure will of structure, in the
This current has been developed by engineers and architects expert in advanced Brazilian Sculpture Museum the archetypical shape molds to a place define by the
structures, such as; Konrad Waschmann, Cedric Price, Robert Le Ricolais, Pier Luigi morphology of São Paulo, in an urban confluence in which the project converts it into
Nervi, Felix Candela, Cecil Balmond, Frei Otto or João Filgueiras Lima “Lelé”. In most a public square. It reveals another close presence: the immense shape of the portico
of these experiments and technical works, the diagram, as force lines, has preceded of the Museum of Art of São Paulo, the MASP (1957-1968) by Lina Bo Bardi.
the definition of shape. The Museum of Sculpture in São Paulo is seen as a square protected by a
And this position relates to what science put forward on the physical structures large concrete portico with a span of 60 meters, relative to the large-scale pre-
of living things, especially Scottish biologist and mathematician D’Arcy Thompson Hispanic architectures, like Teotihuacán and Monte Albán. It is part of the search
(1860-1948), in his seminal text On Growth and Form (1917). By showing the possibility for a new monumentality that had started with Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, Sigfried
of physical and mathematical study of the forms of nature, Thompson suggested that Giedion, Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, and for Mendes da Rocha is to unite the
“when dealing with specific matter, the force strictly speaking, is not in question, since proportions of the great historical monuments and the possibilities of technology;
force, unlike matter, does not have an objective independent existence. It is energy in and the essentialist weight and community culture and memory attached to the
its various forms, known or unknown, which acts on the matter”. Thompson continues: free capacity of technical knowledge. With a single architectural gesture, Mendes
“In this sense, the shape of an object is a ‘diagram of forces”, at least from what we da Rocha creates a critical space in which the outside celebrates its character of
can judge or deduce from the forms that act or have acted on that “. He concludes by a public building -the portico provides shade and shelter in the garden- and in the
wanting to interpret, in terms of strength, the energy performance that “neither the interior recalls the initial sense of the museum as an underground enclosure that
sperm nor the core, or the chromosomes of germinal plasma can ever act as a matter gathers human knowledge, the great underground safe where valuables are stored.
alone, but only as centers of energy and force” 2. D’Arcy Thompson’s theories relate to (Fig. 04) In this way, three archetypes are merged: the primal and introspective
the concepts of energy, force and matter among themselves and with diagrams.
space museum understood as cave, crypt, treasure or archaeological excavation;
This is what happens to the overwhelming public works by Paulo Mendes da Rocha,
basic public space, consisting of the platform of the square, with the sculpture
thought to be promoted by powerful social institutions, state, local, academic or cultural.
garden and the pond; and the portico as symbol of the living of mankind, the
As it was written, his programmatic drawings, so synthetic and his paper models based
primitive cabin in nature.
on essential geometries are authentic diagrams. They not only indicated the archetypical
And if the interior of the Brazilian Sculpture Museum maintains its raw space
form (cube, cylinder, prism, portico) but point to matter, the forces and structures,
program, protean, yet to be defined, in return, the presence of the contingent is high
and predict the programs, operations, relations, scales, spaces, views and presence
in the Art Gallery of the State. The intervention of Mendes da Rocha on the existing
of natural light. That is why in every work of Mendes da Rocha there is symbiosis and
building, the former Art Gallery that had been designed in 1896 as the School of
continuity between concrete and steel that in a protean manner, share the lines of
Arts and Crafts, is so wise and mature that consists essentially of two actions that
forces, masses and structures. And this is expressed in each work, from the buildings
completely transform the inherited building, of rectangular plane, almost square,
designed as city landmarks, such as the portico at Praça do Patriarca in São Paulo – to
with an academic composition that emphasizes the cross axis and prioritizes the
the series of museums he has designed, most recently the Cais das Artes in Vitoria.
façade to the main road, Avenida Tiradentes, currently with very heavy traffic. (Fig. 05,
Matter, form and space on four museums Fig. 06) One: Mendes da Rocha transformed the historic building’s initial axial
To develop these arguments and demonstrate how it has evolved, from among his works promoting a longitudinal axis, of side access for the façade that faces the Praça da
four museums from different times have been chosen: the design of the Museum of Luz railroad station, with the introduction of a solid steel interior walkways that cross
Contemporary Art for the University of São Paulo (1975), suspended in its Platonic state the two lateral rectangular courtyards, it radically transforms the initial typological
of lightweight structure; the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (1986-1995), a crypt made structure: an academic mass, frontal, symmetrical, axial and static to become a
from the raw material of space, under a public square; the new Art Gallery of the State modern space of dynamic perception, cinematic and sequential of the full and empty.
(1993-1998), also in São Paulo, where drastic innovations are introduced in a old building And two: if the unfinished academic building foresaw and expected a large dome
-the longitudinal circulation and a “Miesian” cover, radically flat-, converting it into a on the axis to complete the hierarchical and composition, Mendes da Rocha cut it
modern museum; and the set of Cais das Artes in Vitoria (2007-2014). drastically. In the manner of the pavilions of Mies van der Rohe, any protruding point is
It would seem that the structuralist concept, minimalist will and essentialist focus denied, and emphasis is on the horizontality of the architectural tradition architecture
that dominate the work of Mendes da Rocha and bring about an idea of timelessness,
​​ of Schinkel and his Altes Museum in Berlin (1823-1830). The horizontal roof of flat
in other words, the presence of some initial concepts are repeated, that in this skylights eliminates any vestige of the unfinished tower on the central octagonal
development, dimensions of time and place are not entered. However, an in-depth courtyard and finishes off the two lateral courtyards of the walkways with the strict
analysis of the evolution of his work, allows for the detection of the influence of the frame of skylights. This comprehensive typological transformation is complemented
contingencies of reality, the presence of the place and time. It deals with a temporary by a third mechanism: the emphasis on spatial interpenetration between interior and
nature different from the chronology, which has to do with the gradual experimentation exterior, alternately treating the interior like the exterior and exterior like the interior:
and maturing, with the development of the ability to let the atmosphere in and the interior courtyards are treated like façades and terraces, and outdoor galleries are
complexity of the reality, with the advanced knowledge to integrate technical progress. coated with white stucco as if they were interior. The Venetian pieced ruin effect that
The Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo, designed in adds power to the interiors with dramatic texture of the bare bricks of its protective
collaboration with Jorge Wilheim and Léo Tomchinsky and unrealized, part of the two layer, move away from the aspirations of serenity, timelessness and neatness of
teachers that inspired the work of Mendes da Rocha: the desire for a lightweight and minimalism, despite the brutal presence of steel.
suspended architecture like Oscar Niemeyer had designed in his unrealized proposal Finally, the museum and theater in Vitoria expresses as synthesis expressed the
for the Museum of Modern Art in Caracas (1954-1958); and the conception of the will to reconcile the logic of concrete and steel. It deals with two large buildings on
public building as a large covered square, as developed by João Vilanova Artigas in the pier, largely suspended in the form of porticos. The museum, in longitudinal
his architecture, especially in the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of São Paulo form, acts as a door and is supported by only six supports; four of which reach the
(1961). It is as if the College by Vilanova Artigas had achieved happiness of flight and ground in circular form, the ones on the end, and two of them, those in the center,
suspension in air of Niemeyer’s drawings; as if lightness of the architecture of Rio de are rectangular in shape. The interior circulation follows the development of ramps
Janeiro was blown into the São Paulo school. And from this emerges the big box of and the natural light enters reflected in the interior from the ground and indirectly.
reinforced and pre-stressed concrete sustained only by two central rows of six pillars Both the theater and the museum have a general concrete structure: the museum
each, with an autonomous lighter structure for façades; a mega-structure designed to with two large beams as bridges and the theater, a box with twelve supports, with
create a museum as a covered square. (Fig. 01) a smaller inner structure of beams and metal structures 3. (Fig. 07). In this project, 121

after a round of experimentation, there is a return to the ideal solution. But this trip no not only is there no space, but if we are not careful we will end up expelled and
longer carries the autonomous object but the dialogue of two volumes on the platform relegated to legitimizing beauty, in the rare case that in some way it can still be
of the pier, which enhance the public space. achieved. Or legitimizing ugliness, perhaps for the sake of the welfare of society, of
Demonstrating its minimalist origin, each work, which is a diagram of forces and a well- being that no one asked for, which is bound by decree to accommodate so
a complete structure, not only synthesized forms, function and construction, but, this many things that were never present in architecture. A shortsighted vision would
same process can adapt to the place, which can interpret and characterize. The place say why they don’t they exist. Actually, because there was no need, therefore, in
is understood as topography; as the land of the pier, as pre-existing, garden or park, as architecture, the need makes the invention and not vice versa.
natural light environment, orientation and views, from outside and from within. It is suffice to cater to the entire life cycle of a material or machinery to realize
Therefore, Mendes da Rocha develops in a conciliatory fashion, his protean and that the best architecture in terms of respect for the energy balance of the
structural conception of architecture with the great ability to adapt to reality and take environment is one that has almost no machines, because it knows how to take
time as an ally, restructure geography and reorganize traffic flows. A dialogue with time advantage of the marvel which is that nature gives us almost everything we need.
that allows for the construction of a desired reality that brings out the existing reality. The engines, engineering as a correction means that which is not achieved by
And this happens to the extent that it is understood that the human, an essential fact in architectural means, to large extent defeat physics and through it, of understanding.
the architecture of Mendes da Rocha, can have no other expression than the actions and Resorting to machines as an orthopedic device to correct insufficiencies brings
desires of society, the needs of each time and the proportions of the space, the context us, therefore, to the collective defeat of the desire in the knowledge of nature.
of the city. Mendes da Rocha has said and written, “In the contemporary world, of Perhaps the great revolution of the 21st century is the abolition of the machine,
satellites, the supreme monument of human presence in the universe is the city.” 4 The ironically means everything you wanted: you may end up realizing that the machine
city, therefore, is always the context, the container. meant the victory of Applied Physics in saving effort, is becoming the excuse to save
Concluding, Mendes da Rocha is located, squarely in the humanist tradition of thought. And especially in the excuse to put parapets between nature and humans,
technology. That which ideologically initiated in the United States and Britain engineers who instead of teaching them to live in their environment, it is used to draw away,
such as Thorstein Veble, urban planners such as Patrick Geddes, Lewis Mumford, and to look in architecture the construction of building an artificial environment that
Catherine Bauer, architects and engineers like Cedric Price and Konrad Waschsmann, protects it, sterilizes it.
and where in Brazil has had a strong line of experiments and achievements in Lina Bo Today, amid such a race for the complication of architecture and its
Bardi, João Filgueiras Lima “Lele” and the same Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The tradition transformation into receptacle machines that seem to legitimize the mere existence
of the diagrams of forces has led us to discover another tradition; which has fought and of buildings, it turns out to be refreshing to address cases that allow a glimpse of
fights for humanistic and social aspect and freedom of technology. that sign of victory in physics facing the machine. Situations where superfluous has
disappeared 2. But above all, situations where physics build the machine while the
Notes and references engine puts intelligence and provides the motor.
1 MONTANER, Josep Maria, AZARA, Pedro. Hotel Attraction: una catedral laica. El Gratacel de Gaudí Such is the attitude that is observed in certain actions of Paulo Mendes da Rocha
a New York/ El rascacielos de Gaudí en Nueva York, Barcelona: Editions UPC, 2003. which serve as examples to understand architecture as a response and whose
strength lies in understanding and collaboration with nature. That is to say, the use
2 THOMPSON, D’Arcy W., Sobre el crecimiento y la forma, Madrid: Cambridge University Press,
of a technique that comes from an integrative knowledge of physics. Techniques
2003, pp. 26, 27 and 30.
which allow buildings to respond to the environment and problems, using the
3 MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo, VILLAC, María Isabel, “Carta ao Governador Mário Covas” en knowledge of simple laws to govern the behavior of nature.
América, cidade e natureza, São Paulo: Editorial Estação Liberdade, 2012, p. 227. That’s what I intend to show, through four different and specific examples, united
4 MENDES DA ROCHA, Cais das Artes, Vitoria: Governo do Estado do Espirito Santo/ Secretaría de by a common bond: the ability to convert the building or one of its parts in a machine
cultura, no date. without motors, a machine whose actions stems from the alibi of the knowledge of
simple physical laws. These works discover that it is possible to do things differently
Bibliography and activate a building as a bargaining tool with the world.
-- MONTANER, Josep Maria, AZARA, Pedro. Hotel Attraction: una catedral laica. El Gratacel de Gaudí ONE: The hot air balloon
a New York/ El rascacielos de Gaudí en Nueva York, Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 2003.
The project for the contest Beaubourg Museum, 1971, presents a curious artifact,
-- THOMPSON, D’Arcy W., Sobre el crecimiento y la forma, Madrid: Cambridge University Press, being built, would certainly be the most important of its author. It combines a bold
2003. and novel structural concept with a number of considerations towards the city and
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo, VILLAC, María Isabel, “Carta ao Governador Mário Covas” en the concept of the museum itself, which give a solid argument for the proposal 3.
América, cidade e natureza, São Paulo: Editora Estação Liberdade, 2012. The high integration of the city in the museum, thereof and therein, would consist
of the difficult dream to achieve the bringing of the museum into the street, at least
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Cais das Artes, Vitoria: Governo do Estado do Espirito Santo/ Secretaría de
not putting doors that lock it. The street continues in a ramp that penetrates the
cultura, sin fecha.
building almost without us realizing it. Total continuity endorsed by the fact that
-- the other side of the inclined plane of the roof of public space is the floor of the
museum. All without doors that cut transit.
MACHINES WIHTOUT MOTORS Without doors? Yes, without doors.
(OR THE INTELLIGENCE AS A MOTOR OF THE MACHINES) And here the shape of the building makes the miracle possible.
José María García del Monte The inverted pyramid shape makes it a sort of balloon: warm air is confined inside
Superior School of Architecture, Madrid and has no exit point, the cold air is kept outside and makes doors unnecessary:
it caused a natural pressure without further mediation that the shape of the building
It is the time of complex machines that invade buildings and knock down itself. (Fig. 01)
architecture. It is estimated that currently we dedicate at least twenty percent of the In summer the top vents open enough to cause continuous ventilation, capturing
section, about fifteen percent of the surface and no less than one third of money to the air accordingly inside the building, protected by the shelter of the overhang and
machines and more machines. cooled by the shade provoked out there. Therefore, there is a huge fan, collector or
The latest batch of contemporary demands has brought even more machines to natural flow condenser. A ventilation and conditioning machine without engines,
construction, as there are now machines that control machines. Even centers for without consumption, a machine that once again, is only by its shape. (Fig. 02)
machines that by remote control, control machines, co-ordinate, collect data and We see, finally, how wrong we can be if we judge the building from the point of
compile statistics to conclude… that more machines are needed. view of its aesthetic form: the continuity of public space towards the interior space
Meanwhile, architects are still looking for beauty through their service to society, and the achievement of a natural climate conditioning machine are more than
or rather, as an excuse to do so. We make huge efforts to win over the madness, enough reason to justify a way that would otherwise be difficult to understand. And
by hiding, integrating, fitting, covering, solving and even finding beauty in spite of in there, also lies its beauty: the reasons that architecture represents, basically, is to
the machines. Machines that, in addition to their own universe is the result of mass do what is necessary and always find good arguments to escape the caprice; do the
production that by putting them all together in a building are but small cog wheels minimum and make it so that the reasons for the form are multiple and consistent.
that build a prototype that surely will not work since every building is but a risky and
out of tune first prototype that only after proper tuning will function as it should.1 TWO: The automatic window
Little by little we are assuming this state of affair. We complain in the studio, at The house he built for himself in Butantá like in Mazetti uses an ingenious window
home, with friends, with students in class... But we put our talents to the service of that is manipulated upsetting the balance. The rest comes alone.
the enemy. We make it seem like it doesn’t matter, that everything can be integrated, The window hangs from a corbel that fastens to another part anchored to the
that all this is fine, all this farrago of adhesions is fine. We make it look like there’s casing slab so that the rotation axis is in front (Fig. 03); when the window is closed,
122 room for everyone, even though we see in our work that this is clearly not the case: thus producing a torque by the displacement of the center of gravity relative to the

E N B L A N C O · N º 1 5 · 2 0 1 4 · P a u lo M E N D E S D A R O C H A
vertical axis of the anchor. To keep it closed, therefore, it is necessary to “retain” achieves the surprising physical continuity of the characterizing elements of the store
action is achieved by a very simple screw engaging a retainer attached to the towards the exterior. The ladder gets to be that tentacle projecting the internal space
balustrade. (Fig. 04) to the outside.
Once the window is released, it will tend to rotate seeking balance until the And best of all, the displacement of the hinge axis allows to obtain, thanks to the
center of gravity is positioned in the vertical axis. Opening the window, therefore, careful balancing of masses, a counterweight that makes the motorization of the
is a nice gesture releasing the wings of the house that spread out its feathers with artifact unnecessary. The staircase is thus a mobile toy that is operated with one hand,
joy. (Fig. 05) without engines, without controls, a very simple machine lever, one of the simple
But there’s more: the window consists of an upper fixed glass and another that machines of old. (Fig. 10)
can run vertically using side guides. If this second glass, the inferior, moves up, we But this articulated toy is also an instrument used to modify perception: Concrete
are also raising the center of gravity of the window, so that it can find its balance being the lower floor of the store and outer buttresses, the look speaks to us of a
again, the window tilts further increasing its opening capacity. (Fig. 06) heavy building. But the mechanism of the ladder seems to negate the weight of the
The façade becomes a collection of same or different balances, but endowed box, it is calling attention to the game of contrasts of the building, which operates
with a magical animation and, above all, from this poetry, movement is not provided both in the way of understanding the structure and how to build your image, always
by the engine but by the machine; elemental machine like those pulleys, rocker a dialogue without order between heaviness or lightness, between the thickness and
or inclined planes, that since Greek times, we were taught that a machine is “a its negation. From what the bottom is perceived as a heavy concrete box suddenly
device to take advantage, direct or regulate the action of a force,” and nothing more presents the viewer with a subtle gentleness of a moving mechanism. One gets into
complicated than what we think it is today. the concrete box like they would a plane, a kind of spaceship temporarily placed
there, but that at any moment it could take flight. The apparent weight is denied by
THREE: The game building
phenomenology inherent in this ladder and the question arises: is it something heavy
When an architect says that a building of his is a game, one should prepare for or air? This is certainly a game of gravity, of a machine without engines which bases
the worst, it is not uncommon to be close to the “irony”, the “joke” and, fatally, the its mobility on clarity of thought and manipulation of the physical facts of reality. With
collapse. However, when that game is just a game to discover the world and that one hand.
building is a school, there may be hope.
Discover the world? Yes: experiment with the physical reality of the world that Conclusion
today is intended to encroach on education and substitute for multimedia content and These are only four specific examples of a vast work rich in promises. But four
various paraphernalia. examples that speak of an attitude toward the world: ask and find out and know also
As children we found balance on the bicycle, gravity on the slide, the pendulum of become the pretext for building architecture intelligently.
the swings, the balance on the seesaw, the elasticity of the seat with springs and the The technique here becomes a discrete tool that allows these mechanisms to be
theorem of Archimedes when the bathtub over-flowed, much to the displeasure of our built like they were inadvertently important; the technique is not displayed as the
parents. Why should a school not be a link in that chain of discoveries? finality but it behaves as the muscle of thought. And when we speak about technique,
Calux Schools: Structurally, the building is understood as overlapping section of we not only speak, as we have seen, but about the constructive or structural technique,
two planes (Fig. 07): one in the classroom, protects itself under a public space (a but of a wider look at the world and nature. Ortega and Gasset said the technique is
playground) that seamlessly connects with the outdoors; the other, the roof, protects not only “the effort to save effort.” In the work of Mendes da Rocha, saving effort that
not only the classroom but also to a rather large environment that is but a shadow of promotes the effort is much brighter and present. And so it should be.
games; in a climate where the sun is a problem, the school is primarily a shadow that The words that Eugene Freyssinet dedicates in the preface to a book on the maturity
defines a public space, that is, collective, where co-existence occurs and therefore of the technique of pre-stressed concrete, for him invented (and resource that
teaching. The vertical structure is scant and coverage is built without flaunting it. makes feasible a large part of the work of Mendes da Rocha) are most appropriate to
At one end a ramp collects rainwater and is put within that space cover, introduces summarize and describe this attitude:
randomness in the world and makes it more intense showing how uncomfortable “Man can choose between two sets of solutions: they can save their efforts
nature is. (...) or try to rip (it from nature) the maximum benefits and material satisfaction
For Mendes da Rocha this condition means something else, and so he tells us that in exchange for an ever more perfect knowledge and a submission increasingly
it would be nice for the children to play with paper boats in this stream that runs down complete with its laws”.
the ramp when it rains. Maybe a child he affirms can discover for himself the history
of navigation. Wouldn’t it be nice if a future naval engineer confessed that his vocation Illustrations
was born thanks to that in his school, physical navigation was present in that small Fig. 1  A section of the Project for the Beaubourg Centre (1972), thermic behavior in winter:
stream caused by the architecture? accumulation of heat in the interior without possibility of escape.
Fig. 02  Beaubourg: the section in summer, like a forced ventilation machine
FOUR: The lifting stairs Fig. 3  Details of the window in the Butantá house (1960), where the way to anchor by means of an
In the work of Mendes da Rocha stairs are important. Maybe they are the elements eccentric support can be observed.
that traditionally, most allow architects to play with gravity and being present in this Fig. 4  Window anchorage Mazetti house (1970). A simple nut and bolt, that when released, allows the
work as the reason for fun, neither could this playful feeling of stairs be missed. window to open freely.
Fig. 5  Large windows in the house of Paulo Mendes da Rocha in Butantá: the house spreads its wings…
Sometimes it’s a ladder that stands out as a separate piece that creates a place by the
Fig. 06  The same effect but from inside the house
side of the house (as in Butantá), or allows it to emerge in the middle of the floor (as
Fig. 7  Sketch of the Calux schools 1972).
in Gerassi) or becomes a tool of manipulation and contrast for the sight so that light
Fig. 8  Stairs belonging to the store Forma (1987).
inside the house dazzle us (as in Mazetti) or, where it is the object of our attention
Fig. 9  Folding system of the handrail
here, serves as a drawbridge time step and aircraft ramp
The stairs of the store Forma are raised as a tool to change the atmosphere: Fig. 10  Sketch of the articulation and anchorage system in the thick structural layer

it moves us away from the bustle of the city and takes us to the heart of the nave
Notes and references
through the bulk of its structural invention. But not only that: it is also the means of
controlling the opening of the store, because it is a metal staircase that swings out to 1 Refer to article: GARCIA DEL MONTE, José María; Montiel Jiménez, Ana Maria. “
open the store to the public and collected to close. Opening the store is going down Experimentación en la Edad del Miedo.” No Brand # 6 (2013), p. 73-74. Article published under the
the stairs and opening the space beneath it. Entering is traveling that singular and pseudonym (foundational condition that magazine) “Quadrifoglio Verde”
privileged road, that kind of privilege it must have been, for example, through the 2 It’s refreshing the example of the small museum of La Congiunta, Peter Märkli: museum
drawbridge of an ancient fortress. It is not a banal route but a significant way. (Fig. 08) without any kind of facilities, on the other hand, it is shown that they are not needed.
What is this metal ladder like? Rather, how is articulated? Against all odds, and
3 Refer to article: GARCÍA DEL MONTE, José María; “Estructura y forma en dos artefactos
no less at the end. On the contrary, the rotational position is at a midpoint, so that
discretos”, AV Monografías nº 161 (June 2013), p.14-19.
the balance on this point of articulation is more precarious and changing. This way
of collecting allows the ladder to be obscured in the thick of the main beams, forged 4 The first acceptation from the la Real Academia Española de la Lengua dictionary.
between two planes determined by the wings of the beams. This thickness, in addition 5 From this same family of mechanisms, for example, is the access stairs of the Forma store
to shaping an intermediate and incognito world that visitors must pass through, it whose delicate balance of weights turns it into a precise machine that can be handled with one
permits the hiding and saving of the stair rails. hand and its inertia helps to manage it.
These rails do not have enough room in the space provided for storage, so the
6 ORTEGA Y GASSET, José, “Meditación de la técnica”, Buenos Aires: Espasa Calpe, 1939 chapter III.
game’s axis of rotation displace the joints of the railing itself save enough space for
the whole staircase to remain in the structural edge (Fig. 09). The railing also links in 7 FREYSSINET, Eugene, prologue to GUYON, Ives, “Hormigón pretensado, estudio técnico y
total continuity with the inner sections of the store, so this mobile, articulated gadget experimental”, Madrid: Dossat, 1960. p. VI. 123

BRENNAND CHAPEL: A PLACE, THREE WALLS, A FLOOR, A ROOF and wood to the bluish-grey of the concrete and ceramics, with almost no vibrant note.
AND SOME DETAILS Although small and discreet, it is a work not easily understood, let alone digest.
Ruth Verde Zein
To appreciate it as it deserves to be, it requires the suspension of judgment, and a
Universidad Mackenzie. Sao Paulo. Brasil.
careful and delayed approach to every detail. As always -but especially here- describing
it, is not a dispensable task, but a basic and fundamental step. Especially when we
A floor platform with a concrete base establishes an occupied territory that is know who the author is, and for that matter, is a great temptation to forget the thing-
completely flat, barely above the ground in the north and east sides, while from the work and only comment on the person-architect; and even more tempting to try and
natural slope towards the south and west quadrant emerges a discreet base partly “explain” with metaphors of what it is not, instead of appreciating its tectonic nature,
coated in stone and partly concrete – since it it is found on a habitable basement subtly proportion, gaps and materials.
announced by the irregularity of the perimeter on the south side and above an almost The description outlined here is not absolute but existential. And if I may use a
imperceptible ventilation slot. single analogy or end with poetic license: think, during the tour, in a good wine. Do not
On the eastern limit of the platform, the first in a series of walled rectangular rings define if the taste is good or not just by the label, open it and try it first, activate other
are established. The perimeter of the first ring-wall is incomplete, barely defined by the senses and perceptions like the aroma, color, texture, touch and look again. This wine
four extremes by way of frame corners; its four separated stretches draw two or three is a mixture of vines, alchemy between sophisticated and rustic origins, aged body and
arches each, forming a total of eleven complete arches and eight incomplete start-ups. young in spirit. It needs to settle to be better appreciated.
Its height coincides with the door openings of the second ring. (Fig. 01)
The second walled rectangular ring is coated and painted white with lime on the
outside but inside reveals the dense stone masonry, pierced by twenty arched French -- FOQUÉ, R. Building Knowledge in Architecture. Brussels: UPA, 2010.
windows, three in each of the minor façade and seven in the major, making a total of 19 -- ROCHA-PEIXOTO, G.; BRONSTEIN, L.; OLIVEIRA B.D. S.; LASSANCE,G. (ed). Leituras em Teoria
fine and high holes and only one wider and lower, with ashlar jambs, which gives an air da Arquitetura 3.Objetos. Rio de Janeiro: Riobooks, 2011.
of something historic. It is possible to enter some of the doors, but not all.
-- ZEIN, R.V. “Hay que ir hacia las obras”. Summa+, 2013, num.128, p.120-1. Disponible en: http://
There is a third ring further inside of clear glass with a zigzag design for added
stability, without frame, fixed to the floor, of articulated panels for corners that leave a
small Galilean- like convex space on the north façade access (Fig. 02); which also has
a preferential entry, the height lowered slightly due to the position of the choir. This
is a simple concrete beam supported in the first column, which supports a narrow PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA.CONVERSATIONS ON ARCHITECTURE:
balcony, accessible by stairs located between the second and third ring, between the MEMORY, DESIRE AND EXPERIENCE
second and the third hole, on the west side. Two other entrances disrupt the wall of Marilda Azulay Tapiero
glass and are mirrored, opposites, in the middle of the long sides, but they were not Universidad Politécnica de Valencia
open on the day of the visit.
The concrete slab cover is the same size on the floor as the second walled ring but “What do we mean we say that some architecture is really beautiful? ¿What do we
does not touch and appears to be floating above it, providing a constructive respite. mean when we say that an artefact, something made by the man, is really beautiful? It
The slab cover is supported by a trapezoidal longitudinal beam disposed along the is beautiful because it is new and in what is new there must be a monumental antiquity
central axis and unloads its weight on two cylindrical columns away from the edges and wisdom. To be new, it must be antique, it must gather memories. But architecture
and separated in rhythm of 1-4-1 ratio; The slab cover is fastened transversely by a doesn’t have to be beautiful, it must be convenient, be based on human desires and try
beam-channel that starts from the center position on the eastern side and connects to to delight others.”
the bell, which functions as a third external pillar. Paulo Mendes da Rocha1
The bell tower is separate, it is rectangular and open, similar to that of a standing
beam- channel;, it is located on the outer limit of the first line of the incomplete ring Introduction
and extends beyond and below ground level defining an occasional waterfall that Among the interviews given to Paulo Mendes da Rocha, many of them long and
captures rainwater and stores it underground. In the opposite façade, a small table / generous conversations, the interview by Inés Moisset and Sabina Uribarren for the
square altar, balances the composition and protects the stretch that houses the stairs Cuaderno Latinoamericano de Arquitectura2 was published in October of 2012. There,
of the choir. the architect reflected that the future is always a rebuilding of the past: “History is
Upon entering, passing the access / choir, one finds the empty space, and at the experience (...) So awareness and critical vision must be grown on the past”.
opposite end, the altar / pulpit; to the right or southwest corner lays the narrow It seems convenient to raise a question regarding the status of the past; not with the
staircase that leads to the basement. aim of finding the determinations of a closed reality within it, but to recognise it as an
The column and balcony located at the access partially impede vision of the relatively open reality. A look that depends on the meaning of every present when, with regard
small space, in a similar way but less effective than in the Chapel of San Pedro by the to an event, “we must decide whether to pay attention or not, to accept or to reject”, as
same author. The underground is discrete, it looks bad from the outside or is perceived Giulio Carlo Argan wrote in 1969. What is accepted or rejected is –he continued- “the
inside, is accessed via a staircase that defines a broken line route following a narrow coexistence with the work, which is physically present and, even if it belongs to the
corridor to surpass the perimeter of the walled rings, where it widens to form a small past, takes up a place in our real space and time”.3
cave / stone coated sacristy, softly illuminated by the narrow window between the Growing awareness and critical vision on the past from a contingent look that, unlike
platform above and the ground on top. its contemporary looks, knows and learns new facts, objects, fortunes and derivations
Returning to the upper floor and the chapel: abundance of detail is seen without or effects. Henry Russell-Hitchcock said, from the point of view of the sixties, about
being excessive; and these are: finished and commemorative plaques, pieces of his book International Style. Architecture since 1922, published in 1932: “the book was
painted pottery, bas-relief drawing and writings arranged on the floor and the balcony, less important for what it said than for the exact moment it was said. If we had written
bordering the pulpit and the choir. To this are added moving parts: benches in steel it some years before (...) the two best houses of the new style –the ville Savoie and the
structure, folded in iron, seats, backs and wooden pews, chandeliers, some supported Tugendhat house- would have not existed yet. If we had written it some years later (...)
or fixed statues, the altar of three consolidated stone pieces; and many other small we would have had to deal with the diverse developments of the architecture that were
things, because God is also present in the details. drastically changing the international scene”.4
Natural light is filtered, the artificial, unnecessary during the day, is distributed In this regard and from a contemporary perception of the past facts, it can be said
almost industrially in small openings in the roof slab. The shadows produced and that, facing different matters, desires and needs, architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha
natural breeze could have made more pleasant the constant heat if not for the windows has continued developing what he announced in the Gymnasium for the Paulistano
that while protect, also impede ventilation, especially when they are left closed. Athletic Club, his first building (1958). Or, in the words of Francesco Dal Co in “Paulo
The first visual impression is not attractive: the broken arches define a first barrier Mendes da Rocha: Listen to and observe a master”5, written for the occasion of the
that is intriguing, the front access and the right side / west force’s vision of the isolated Pritzker Architecture Prize award in 2006: “Mendes da Rocha continues to update his
thing, the convolution of the necessary recognition becomes a little difficult because of compositional approach by constantly reworking previous experiences”.
the slope, the land and trees. The experience of an architect that works with what he learns and learns from
But I will take the detour anyway, walk and go in, turn around and leave, I look back, everybody throughout the years. Thus, in the Gymnasium, Mendes da Rocha worked
I observe with the skin. I refuse to think what they want it to be before I feel what it is in with respect for the technique and the structural coherence that he learnt from his
reality. Only after passing through the second walled ring, the gaze stops and relaxes: grandparents –engineers “in a certain way”, he says- and from his father, an engineer
here, the will of the architect is dominated. If purist white prevails on the outside, what of hydraulic works and port facilities. Brought up in Vitória, the city where he was
catches our attention on the inside, is the relative abundance of detail, the changing born in 1928; a port city that, in his words, “was transformed by human labour, by
nature of the glass multiplies, between transparencies and reflections, without being the specific possibility to execute projects” and where, he states, ”since I was a child,
124 confused due to the discreet color palette ranging from the dark orange of the stones I never doubted about what is possible to do”. As he points out in his references

E N B L A N C O · N º 1 5 · 2 0 1 4 · P a u lo M E N D E S D A R O C H A
to Holland or Venice, places that didn’t exist, where everything is created: “It was to Ivo Renato Giroto(2011) adopted “the sober and technical aesthetics (...) and not the
impossible to build a city in Venice, because of the amount of mud. But there was a formal exhuberance of Niemeyer’s work”.16 (Fig. 02)
desire, so it was done. It’s a wonderful work of engineering. That is architecture”6. He Vilanova Artigas confirmed: “Oscar and I have the same concerns and find the same
also defined architecture as ”the moment, the convenience, the urges, the desires, the problems, but while he always struggles to solve these contradictions in harmonious
needs, the technique, solving problems”. synthesis, I show them clearly. In my opinion, the task of the architect doesn’t consist
His education was broadened and consolidated after his qualification in 1954 and his in accommodation; the existing wars shouldn’t be covered with an elegant mask, it is
relationship with João Batista Vilanova Artigas in the Department of Architecture at the necessary to unveil them without fear”.17 To Paulo Mendes da Rocha, it is an essential
Universidad de São Paulo, as Dal Co also says, with the awareness that “you can never reflection through Niemeyer’s work that “causes deep and real emotions and thoughts
build anything finished”. Mendes da Rocha explained it in a conversation with Carlos on architecture, from the point of view of universal knowledge”. He says: “every lesson
Haag in May, 2006: “We aren’t alone; we’re supported by desire, which is in the future, of the Modern Movement includes an essential lesson, which is freedom: it can be done
and by the past through experience”.7 otherwise. It is not a virtue to be different just for being different, but for dealing with
the urgent news of the universe (…) To do what has been desired for a long time and not
“The past through experience” achieved until now, what is still left to do”.18
Supported by the past where the Modern Art week of São Paulo indicated, according to
Carleton Sprague Smith (1956),8 the beginning of the Brazilian artistic independence. “What is still left to do”
A week in February of 1922 whose interest lay in, as the Correio Paulistano informed on In 1958 Paulo Mendes da Rocha won the public national contest for the Gymnasium
the 29th January of the same year, “being the perfect demonstration of what is in our for the Paulistano Athletic Club, which in 1961 was awarded the Geande Prèmio
environment as regards sculpture, architecture, music and literature, from a strictly Internacional Presidéncia da República in the 6th edition of the Bienal de Arquitetura de
contemporary point of view”. São Paulo. (Fig. 03 and 04) A small pavilion, designed for 2,000 attendees, where the
Soon, Paulistas Architects Gregori Warchavchik and Flávio de Carvalho set the architect’s reflection was focused on the public dimension from the point of view of
foundations of modern architecture. Warchavchik, whose house in Rua Santa Cruz coexistence.19 To understand this, it seems necessary to consider some contemporary
(1927) in São Paulo is considered one of the first works of modern architecture in facts – or architectural developments, as Hitchcock said- such as the Brussels World’s
Brazil, did so in “Acerca da Arquitetura Moderna” (1925), stating, among references to Fair in 1958, the end of CIAM in 1959 or the construction of Brasilia, started in 1956 and
the industry and functionalist principles, that “the beauty of the façade should come officially the capital of Brazil since 1960.
from the rationality of the internal layout, as well as the shape of the machine being According to Ruth Verde Zein (2012), the most remarkable work among the young
determined by the device that makes its soul”.9 On the other hand, the works projected Paulistas architects of the fifties was, precisely, the entry for the contest for the
by Flávio de Carvalho –almost twenty projects, of which only two were finally built- Paulistano Gymnasium, from Mendes da Rocha and João de Gennaro, who designed,
can be considered one of the pathways in the introduction of modern architecture she writes, “huge structural concrete columns supporting a concrete doughnut slab
into Brazil. In the early thirties, both architects inspired the creation of two groups, and rising up to anchor the cables supporting a metallic scrim that covered the sunken
coexisting in São Paulo: the Sociedade pro Arte Moderno, lead by Warchavchik, and the sports arena”. 20 (Fig. 05) A building erected on a large platform, “plateau and shelter
Clube dos Artistas modernos, led by Flávio de Carvalho; a “beneficial disagreement”, for complementary activities (...) solidary spaces suggesting the possibility of other
writes Smith, from where “Brazilian architecture developed a plastic approach”. shows”, according to Mendes da Rocha,21, it established the characteristics of the so
In this mood, Warchavchik and Lúcio Costa –recently designated director of the called Paulista school suggested in the early fifties by buildings such as the Morumbi
Escola de Bellas Artes in Rio de Janeiro- founded the society (1931-1933), joined by Stadium (1952) from Vilanova Artigas and Cascaldi.
Carlos Leao and Oscar Niemeyer, in which Kenneth Frampton (1987) distinguished With respect to the Gymnasium –a building subjected throughout the years to
the beginning of the modern Brazilian architecture.10 In this sense, Costa published some unfortunate interventions-22 it must be highlighted, coherently to what has been
a text written in 1930 “Razoes da Nova Arquitetura”11 in January 1936, establishing said, a clear and rigorous plan from the identification of the essence; in the words of
Warchavchik as a forefather and proposing a revision of the traditional values. Mendes da Rocha, from “the humility of essential things (...) I realise that I am more
Some other aspects to point out, worthy of specific studies, come from the journey interested in the fundamental questions than in the details”.23 Identification also in
of Frank Lloyd Wright to Rio de Janeiro in 1931 and his designation, in 1933, as Honorary the convergence of programs and the reduction of components and constructive
President of the I Salão de Arquitetura Tropical, also in Rio; as well as from the journeys proceedings (“I believe that all the superfluous is annoying. Everything that is
of Le Corbusier in 1926 and 1936. Architect Fábio Penteado (1998) remembers: “Lúcio unnecessary becomes grotesque, especially in our time”);24 as well as in the deduction
Costa brought Le Corbusier to Rio de Janeiro to guide the project of the Ministry and stark materiality of the form and spatial nature based on the structure, a tool
of Education building, positioning Brazil on the map of international contemporary for the project. And, fundamentally, it should be pointed out that the knowledge and
architecture” a journey that –he continues- “passed unnoticed in São Paulo”.12 The integration of technique with architectural thinking and reasoning; as Mendes da
movement that was started in São Paulo had an official encouragement from the then Rocha himself expresses, “you must think with the technique, if you are ready to
federal capital, so concludes Smith. do so. Therefore, what is shown as technique, it is not technique, but thinking and
reasoning”25. This work assumes specific conditions, physical, functional, geographical
“Desire, which is in the future” and cultural, of the place, constantly referring to the social dimension of the space and
The Brazilian pavilion at the New York World Fair, 1939, named The World of Tomorrow, its chances of interacting with the world. (Fig. 06 and 07)
was the subject of a national contest and a project from Niemeyer and Costa, with the As in Vittorio Gregotti’s saying about the origin of architecture (“the erection of a
participation of Paul Lester Winer and Thomas Price. It exhibited the architecture of stone on the ground to recognise a site in the midst of the universe, to take it into
a country with a will for modernisation and, at the same time, as Lúcio Costa wrote account and to modify it”),26 the pavilion, aware that it is acting with nature as a
on the report, “it represents, in a certain way, a link to the traditional spirit of the reference, according to Helio Piñón (2003),27 recognises, modifies and, at the same
Portuguese-Brazilian architecture”.13 time, incorporates the surroundings, by means of the continuity and permeability of
Soon, in 1942, the Museum of Modern Art of New York arranged an exhibition about the buildings. An essentially geographical approach (which conforms geography); an
architecture in Brazil; and Philip L. Goodwin wrote the study Brazil Builds. Architecture essential line in the work of Mendes da Rocha, where the spaces, covered by basic
New and Old 1652-1942, published in 1942, where he emphasized that “while the first shapes and firstly defined by the cross-section, try to be continuous, open to the
impulse (of modern architecture) arrived in Brazil by means of a process of importation, relationship between physical organization and human relations, by the consideration
it soon followed its own way”.14 of organisational resourcefulness, a process in which products and effects are, at the
Since then, architecture magazines paid attention to architecture in Brazil. As in same time causes and producers of what produces them. (Fig. 08)
the articles published in Architectural Record or in Architectural Forum; the special The citation of the jury for the Pritzker Prize award to Paulo Mendes da Rocha
issue Brazil in Architectural Review or the monographic issue Architecture au Bresil highlighted this feature: he modifies the landscape and space with his architecture,
in L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, published in 1947. In the late fifties the scene opened striving to meet both social and aesthetic human needs.28 an aspect that was part
to other Latin-American countries. In this context, Hitchcock (1955) outlined Latin of the sadly lost Brazilian Pavilion (1969) at the World’s Fair 70, in Osaka, maybe his
American Architecture, since 1945, sketching some of the opinions listed by Goodwin most beautiful building, as Luís Fernández Galiano said (2006).29 A public square
about Brazilian architecture; and architect Henrique E. Midlin (1956) published Modern defined by the ground, made of artificial hills, and a roof of prestressed concrete
Architecture in Brazil, edited in New York with a preface by Sigfried Giedion. (Fig. 01) and glass, with no enclosing walls. Guilherme Wisnik (2008) wrote that the pavilion
Also from Brazil, they carried on with the purpose of promoting the contemporary “is the materialisation of a profound reflection on the relation between nature and
art as well as establishing São Paulo as an international art centre. So, following the buildings, metaphorically reproducing the city inside the generic space of a World’s
initiative of businessman Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, who founded the Museum Fair”.30 (Fig. 09)
of Modern Art of São Paulo in 1949, the first Bienal de Arquitetura of São Paulo was This feature is also present inthe Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (1987) where,
organised in 1951. The space hosted 1,854 works from 25 countries; among them, Max starting from the idea of a public open space, the building is almost completely buried
Bill’s Tripartite Unity was awarded the Great Prize of Sculpture. This awarded work, underground but its traces organise the free space remaining: “the roofs of the lower
together with a controversial speech in June 1953 at the School of Architecture of São rooms are, in fact, areas that the visitors walk through to go to the open air exhibition
Paulo,15 influenced the itinerary of the Paulista concretism, an itinerary that, according rooms (...) a surface intended to be inhabited that, as often happens in Mendes da 125

Rocha’s architecture, becomes an artificial earth’s crust, a product of geographical 9 Collected in SEGAWA, Hugo, Architecture of Brazil: 1900-1990,Editora da Universidade de Sao
transformation”, Piñón writes.31 During the design, Mendes da Rocha explains, he Paulo (Edusp), 2010 ISBN 978-1-4614-5431-1 (pp. 32-33).
reflected on “how this open space would relate with the city. I preferred that it was 10 FRAMPTON, Kenneth. Historia crítica de la arquitectura moderna. 3ª ed. Barcelona: Gustavo
levelled with the city, as if they were a continuum”.32 (Fig. 10) Gili, 1987. 375 p. ISBN 84-252-1051-8. (p. 258).
Desire and continuity in the city that is the great cultural centre. “We walk along the
11 Text published in Revista da Diretoria de Engenharia da prefeitura do Distrito Federal, nº 1, vol.
street to show off, in the best sense of the word, to greet, to go for a drink together,
to go for a chat (...) That’s the virtue of the city”, says Paulo Mendes da Rocha in the III, January, 1936.
interview given to Moisset and Uribarren. The same as when dealing with cultural 12 PENTEADO, Fábio. Ensaios de arquitetura. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes, 1998. 78 p. ISBN 85-
spaces, it is necessary to show the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the 85628- 39-1 (p. 20)
University of São Paulo, designed by Vilanova Artigas and Cascaldi in 1961, a continuous 13 ”The use of the nice curve of the plot guided the whole layout. This basic pattern is repeated with
space where the consciousness of the community lies: “A school of architecture different emphasis (…)giving grace and elegance to the complex and following, academically
represents every human desire, the most urgent ones, the making of the city”. It is a speaking, the Ionic order instead of the Doric order that most contemporary architecture follows.
dual subject city/ cultural space, and a multidisciplinary subject since “if you cannot Breaking the rigidity, the ordered movement that goes throughout the composition is slightly
know about everything (...) you should know in a particular way. Architecture is a Baroque (…) it represents, in a certain way, a link to the traditional spirit of the Portuguese-
particular way of knowledge”, explains Mendes da Rocha. Brazilian architecture”. Collected in DIAS COMAS, Carlos Eduardo, “Arquitectura moderna, estilo
An architect should, as Richard Neutra said in “Survival through Design”, overpass Corbu, pabellón brasileño” DC Papers. Revista de crítica i teoria de l’arquitectura, 1999, nº 3 (p. 69).
“the innocent and ignorant game of shapes and colours (...) he can and should know
14 GOODWIN, Philip L. Brazil Builds. Architecture New and Old 1652-1942. Kidder Smith, G. E. (fot.).
the man he is designing for”.34 Because the challenge of contemporary architecture
is “to organize the planet’s habitability for people, not to build monuments” – says Nueva York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1943, (p. 81).
Mendes da Rocha (2006), who, as a student, “had a little book I bought by this North- 15 Lecture transcribed by Lina Bo Bardi for Habitat magazine. BILL, Max. “O arquiteto, a
American architect (...) I loved Richard Neutra”.35 arquitetura e a sociedade”. Habitat, nº 14, January-February, 1954.
16 Collected in MÉNDEZ GONZÁLEZ, Alexis C. “De lejos paisaje, de cerca monumento, la plaza es
el pueblo… “ FÁBIO PENTEADO In Memoriam”. Arquitectura y Urbanismo, vol. XXXII, nº3, 2011,
Fig. 01  Covers of special issues of THE ARCHITECTURAL REVIEW, nº567, March 1944: Brazil; and
ISSN 1815-5898 (p. 78).
L’ARCHITECTURE D’AUJOUD D’HUI, nº13-14, September 1947:Brésil
17 Collected in BRUAND, Yves. Arquitetura contemporânea no Brasil. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1999.
Fig. 02  Max Bill (1908-1994) Iron sculpture: Tripartite Unity. First Prize at the I Bienal de São Paulo, 1951.
Font: 398 p. ISBN: 978-8-5273-0114-5 (p. 302).
Fig. 03  Covers of the catalogues of the I Bienal de São Paulo (1951) and the IV Bienal de São Paulo (1961). 18 GOYZUETA, Verónica, Op.Cit.
Font: Fundação Bienal São Paulo. Historical Archive.
19 “Interview: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, o arquiteto sonhador”. Revista problemas brasileiros, nº
Fig. 04  Catalogues of the IV Bienal de São Paulo (1961), p. 394: “Arquitectura”; and p.418: “Paulo Mendes
341, year38, September-October 2000. Accessible at
da Rocha (1928) Ginásio coberto do Clube Atletico Paulistano. 1961. São Paulo. Est. de São Paulo”.
sesc/pb/artigo.cfm?Edicao_Id=87&breadcrumb=1&Artigo_ID=9 30&IDCategoria=1093&reftype=1
Font: Fundação Bienal São Paulo. Historical Archive.
[Search 28/04/2013]
Fig. 05  Gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club. São Paulo. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1958.
20 VERDE ZEIN, Ruth. “¿Brutalismo? Un nombre polémico y su uso para designar una tendencia
Copyright : Ginásio do Clube Atlético Paulistano © José Moscardi pasada en la arquitectura brasileña”. En Blanco, nº9, 2012(p. 6-13).
Fig. 06  Gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club. São Paulo. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1958. 21 MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo and ARTIGAS, Rosa. Mendes Da Rocha: projetos 1957-1999. São
Font: 11480 img1.jpg © José Moscardi Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2006. 239 p. ISBN: 978-8-5750-3560-3 (pág. 80)
Fig. 07  Gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club. São Paulo. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1958.
22 After some unfortunate interventions in the Gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club,
detrimental to the identity of the building, its original state is to be restored. The Gymnasium
Copyright : Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Clube Atlético Paulistano, São Paulo, 1958
is in process of being protected by the opening of the procedure in the Conselho Municipal
Fig. 08  Gymnasium for the Paulistano Athletic Club. São Paulo. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1958.
de Preservação do Patrimônio Histórico, Cultural e Ambiental da Cidade de São Paulo
Font: MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo. Camargo Artibas (ed.) Paulo Mendes da Rocha, São Paulo: Cosac
-CONPRESP-, as was accorded in the 368th ordinary meeting on the 18th April 2006. Based
Naify publishing, 2000, 239 p. ISBN: 978-8-5863-7476-0 (p.80)
on the publication of the Resolution n° 26/CONPRESP/2004, on the inception of the protection
Fig. 09  Brazilian Pavilion 1970, World’s Fair Osaka, Japan. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1970.
procedure of classified buildings Zonas Especiais de Preservação Cultural (ZEPEC) - Law nº
Font: MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo. Camargo Artibas (ed.) Paulo Mendes da Rocha, São Paulo: Cosac
13.885, 25th of August of 2004-. Resolution 26/CONPRESP/2004. Accessible at http://www.
Naify publishing, 2000, 239 p. ISBN: 978-8-5863-7476-0 (p.79) [Search 28/04/2013]
Fig. 10  Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (MuBE). São Paulo. Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1988.
23 MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo. “Cultura y naturaleza”. In: PIÑON, Helio. Paulo Mendes Da Rocha.
Copyright : Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, Sao Paulo, 1988 Materiales de Arquitectura Moderna. Documentos 2. Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 2003. p. 17-44
ISBN: 978-8-4830-1685-5 (p. 17).
Notes and references 24 Ibidem. (p. 19).
1 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, interview by GOYZUETA, Verónica. “Paulo Mendes da Rocha. 25 “Interview Paulo Archais Mendes de Rocha”. Cadernos de Arquitetura FAUSP, núm. 2, 2001. Sao
Arquitecto. Ganador del Premio Pritzker: En lo nuevo debe haber una monumental antigüedad”. Paulo: Universidade de Sao Paulo, 92 p. ISBN: 978-8-5726-6130-0 (p. 25)
ABC, Tuesday 11/04/2006, Cultura y Espectáculos, p. 66.
26 GREGOTTI, Vittorio. Lecture at the Architectural League of New York, 1982. Quoted in
2 MOISSET, Inés; URIBARREN, Sabina. “Entrevista a Paulo Mendes da Rocha”. 30-60 Cuaderno FRAMPTON, Kenneth. “En busca del paisaje moderno”. Revista Arquitectura, nº 285, July-
Latinoamericano de Arquitectura. Espacios culturales, nº. 10. Córdoba. Argentine, 19/10/2012. August 1990, Madrid, p.52-73 (p. 72).
Accessible at
27 PIÑÓN, Helio. “El proyecto revela la geografía oculta”. In: PIÑON, Helio. Op.Cit., p. 7-16 (p. 7-9).
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28 Jury Citation in The Pritzker Architecture Prize. The Hyatt Foundation. Accessible at http://www.
3 ARGAN, Giulio Carlo, “La storia dell’arte”. In Storia dell’arte n. 1-2 (1969). Riedizione negli Studi [Search 12/04/2013]
in onore di Giulio Carlo Argan, Firenze, 1994, p. 9-38 (p. 15).
29 FERNÁNDEZ GALIANO, Luis. “Horizontes de hormigón”, El País 10/04/2006. Cultura, p. 32.
4 HITCHCOCK, Henry-Russell and JHONSON, Philip. El Estilo Internacional. Arquitectura desde
1922. Quoted in Muñoz, Mª Teresa (pról.). Murcia: Comisión de Cultura del Colegio Oficial de 30 WISNIK, Guilherme. “Arquitectura del territorio” In: Paulo Mendes Da Rocha. Obra reciente. 2G,
Aparejadores y Arquitectos Técnicos, Librería Yerba y Consejería de Cultura y Educación de la nº 45, 2008, 114 p. ISBN: 9788425222467 31 PIÑON, Helio. Op.Cit. (p. 10).
Comunidad Autónoma. 1984. 257 p. ISBN 84-500-9683-9 (p. 26). 32 MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo. “Cultura y naturaleza” (p. 33).
5 DAL CO, Francesco. “Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Listen to and observe a master”. Accessible at 33 MOISSET, Inés ; URIBARREN, Sabina. Op.Cit. [Search 04/04/2013]. The article DAL CO, Francesco.
34 NEUTRA, Richard. “Proyectar: un instrumento de supervivencia”, published in 1959. In
“Paulo Mendes Da Rocha, un maestro da ascoltare e osservare”, was originally published in
CASSINELLO, Fernando. R. J. Neutra. Madrid: Instituto Eduardo Torroja de la Construcción y del
Casabella, nº 758, September 2007, year LXXI, p. 57-67.
Cemento, 1968.
6 GOYZUETA, Verónica. Op.Cit. Underlined by the author.
35 GOYZUETA, Verónica. Op.Cit.
7 HAAG, Carlos. “Interview: Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Rocha and concrete”. Pesquisa, FAPESP,
edition 123. May 2006. Accessible at Bibliography
mendes-da-rocha/ [Search 04/04/2013] Underlined by the author. -- ARGAN, Giulio Carlo, “La storia dell’arte”. En: Storia dell’arte n. 1-2 (1969). Riedizione negli Studi
126 8 SMITH, Carleton Sprague. “Architecture of Brazil”. Architectural Record, April 1956, p. 187-194. in onore di Giulio Carlo Argan, Firenze, 1994, p. 9-38.

E N B L A N C O · N º 1 5 · 2 0 1 4 · P a u lo M E N D E S D A R O C H A
-- BRUAND, Yves. Arquitetura contemporânea no Brasil. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1999. 398 p. degrees of publicness.”2 He constantly demands a “city for all”.3 Again and again
ISBN: 978-8-5273-0114-5. he has deplored the loss of urbanity and has criticized the closed exclusiveness of
-- FERNÁNDEZ GALIANO, Luis. “Horizontes de hormigón”, El País 10/04/2006. Cultura, p. 32. buildings and facades as well as the increasing inaccessibility and privatization of
urban space.
-- FRAMPTON, Kenneth. Historia crítica de la arquitectura moderna. 3ª ed. Barcelona: Gustavo
Much can be said on the social and political stance of the architect from this often
Gili, 1987. 375 p. ISBN 84-252-1051-8.
overlooked building: it represents the ideal link between urbanism and architecture,
-- GOODWIN, Philip L. Brazil Builds. Architecture New and Old 1652-1942. Kidder Smith, G. E. (fot.). the perfect relationship between architecture and the city.
Nueva York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1943. 196 p. With the “Poupatempo” Mendes da Rocha realized more of an idealized structure
-- GOYZUETA, Verónica. “Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Arquitecto. Ganador del Premio Pritzker: than a building. The program for the commission was a traditional, multi-storied
En lo nuevo debe haber una monumental antigüedad”. ABC, Martes 11/04/2006, Cultura y urban administration building, a type of citizen-centre, which was planned to
Espectáculos, p. 66. be built far outside the city centre in Itaquera in the course of decentralization.
Instead of implementing the given program, however, Mendes da Rocha developed
-- HITCHCOCK, Henry Russell. Latin American Architecture since 1945. Museum of Modern Art,
a completely new and independent building typology at another location. He chose
New York, 1955. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1955. 203 p.
a leftover site at the end of the metroline and docked directly at the train platform
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo y ARTIGAS, Rosa. Mendes Da Rocha: projetos 1957-1999. São Paulo: with a structure similar to the train station itself, also following its elevated linear
Cosac Naify, 2006. 239 p. ISBN: 978-8-5750-3560-3 construction. This design proposal was initially rejected by the administration, but
-- MENDES DA ROCHA, Paulo. “Cultura y naturaleza”. En: PIÑON, Helio. Paulo Mendes Da Rocha. Mendes da Rocha was convinced of his design and refused to develop an alternative.
Materiales de Arquitectura Moderna. Documentos 2. Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 2003. p. 17-44 Some weeks later, he received the commission and the results proved him right.
ISBN: 978-8-4830-1685-5. The construction and spatiality of the structure is in fact more reminiscent of a
metro station than of an administrative office: As a substructure he uses an elevated
-- MÉNDEZ GONZÁLEZ, Alexis C. “De lejos paisaje, de cerca monumento, la plaza es el pueblo…
concrete platform similar to those found at metro stations all over São Paulo. Above
FÁBIO PENTEADO In Memoriam”. Arquitectura y Urbanismo, vol. XXXII, núm. 3, 2011, ISSN 1815-5898.
that, a lightweight covering placed atop a steel construction unifies all functions
-- MINDLIN, Henrique E. Modern Architecture in Brazil. Giedion, Siegfried (pról.). New York: under one roof. This creates an open space between the neutral concrete platform
Reinhold, 1956. 256 p. and the protective lightweight roof: a 300-meter long, non-hierarchically organized,
-- PENTEADO, Fábio. Ensaios de arquitetura. São Paulo: Empresa das Artes, 1998. 78 p. ISBN open-plan office with centre-set service boxes and open working spaces where
85-85628-39-1 administrative duties can be performed in an unconventional and uncomplicated
way. All necessary working spaces are mobile with lightweight office installations,
-- PIÑON, Helio. Paulo Mendes Da Rocha. Materiales de Arquitectura Moderna. Documentos 2.
which would allow adjusting to a reorganization at little expense. It is possible
Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 2003. p. 17-44 ISBN: 978-8-4830-1685-5.
to view the entire length of the building and working spaces from every vantage
-- SEGAWA, Hugo. Architecture of Brazil: 1900-1990. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São point. This spatial organization produces a circuit corridor that acts as both moving
Paulo (Edusp), 2010. 279 p. ISBN: 978-1-4614-5431-1 and waiting zones in this unbureaucratically organized administration office. This
-- SMITH, Carleton Sprague. “Architecture of Brazil”. Architectural Record, Abril 1956, p. 187-194. corridor leads to closed, ceiling-high walls at either end, behind which the sanitary
facilities are located. The angles of the facades allow light incidence to be regulated
-- VERDE ZEIN, Ruth. “¿Brutalismo? Un nombre polémico y su uso para designar una tendencia and to protect the interior from too much sunlight.
pasada en la arquitectura brasileña”. En Blanco, núm. 9, 2012, p. 6-13. Very surprising is the idea to link an office building directly to one of the most
-- WISNIK, Guilherme. “Arquitectura del territorio” En: Paulo Mendes Da Rocha. Obra reciente. 2G, public and urban spaces of all, the train station: A pre-existing pedestrian bridge is
núm. 45, 2008, 114 p. ISBN: 9788425222467 used to enter the new building, directly and barrier-free, from the metro station and
the bus station below that comprise an important traffic junction. Just above this
one bridge and without opening a single door, you arrive right in the middle of the
THE TRANSFORMATION VALUE IN THE RELATIONSHIP “ARCHITECTURE AND long, narrow and open building. A central information counter is located here, from
CITY”: THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE FOR THE PUBLIC which a visitor gets a good impression of the wide-open space. A color-coded system
Dr. Margret Becker helps with location, orientation, and directions to the appropriate department in the
Hafencity University Hamburg, Germany four “streets.” At the central entrance, stairs lead down to an additional area with
telephone and Internet access, a copy shop, a small public library and a cafeteria.
Coming to São Paulo for the first time, a European may be overwhelmed by the According to local statistics, the “Poupatempo” can daily receive up to 12,000
dimensions and modernity of the city, which evolved at extreme speed from a small visitors and the staff can handle their requests. With its surprisingly open structure
town to one of the world’s largest megacities in the twentieth century. From the and bustling activity within, the building is more reminiscent of some of the original
beginning of Brazilian modernism and its own search for a contemporary expression primary spaces of urbanity such as a market place, a market hall or a train station,
in the arts and architecture, a strong conviction in modernist ideals contributed to the in stark contrast to an everyday office building. At the same time, its architecture
rapid evolution to a huge metropolis, which is very well expressed in a Brazilian phrase: sets completely new spatial standards for the non-bureaucratic organization of
“Only those who believe in the future believe in the present.” administrative offices in Brazil and beyond.
Yet the situation today, with its everywhere visible social inequality, extreme poverty With his novel building design, Mendes da Rocha has not only revolutionized the
and social injustice that lead to a high incidence of violent crime, confronts city building typology, but has also reduced administrative processes by responding to
planning with an almost insurmountable challenge. Extreme safety concerns, the the size of the city and producing a proportionally appropriate structure, which can
control and privatization of public spaces as well as the increasing fragmentation of provide for a much greater number of people than traditional civic architecture.
the city define the cityscape today. The megacity of São Paulo exploded to a population This is also of prime importance in any megacity with long distances and a poorly
of more than twenty million inhabitants within just a few decades and parts of the city established public transportation system such as São Paulo where many workers
developed basically without the essential planning. It has devolved into chaos from car spend hours commuting to work: an efficient administrative process may mean they
traffic and is characterized by extreme social segregation. will not have to make an additional exhausting, time-consuming trip.
It is therefore noteworthy that there are civil projects far outside the central urban The expansion of both public infrastructure and the traffic system, which
environment that continue this unlimited belief in the future and connect strongly increases accessibility to the prospering centers of the city for all social classes,
again the current challenges of city planning and architecture. A major concern for the represents for Mendes da Rocha the primary tasks of city planning and architecture
urban development of São Paulo are building projects in which “urban openness” is today. Similar to Mendes da Rocha’s approach, Vilanova Artigas’ design philosophy
understood in the sense of reachability and general access to the urban infrastructure. since the 1960s stresses the intimate connection between architecture and city
Because only by following the “principle of universal access” in the sense of Jürgen planning as the ideal: “Mas importante e a atitude. As cidades como as casas. As
Habermas — a public sphere from which no specific groups are excluded because of casas como as cidades.”4 That this apparently very pragmatic insight can also lead to
education, property or location of residence — can the precondition for the public be extremely radical architecture, is seen in Mendes da Rocha’s “Poupatempo” as “a
achieved at all.1 house for the community”, that is representing absolutely his attitude of “a cidade
A good example of such accessibility can be found in the “Poupatempo.” In para todos,” “a city for all.”
this structure, the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha demonstrates the possibility This attitude toward spatiality is reminiscent of another time – like the origins of
of altering the pre-existing conditions with the instruments of the architect. Brasilia’s urban development or of the CIAM congresses, when the designers were
Openness and accessibility characterize all his buildings. Besides showing a convinced that a new society could be shaped through a new architecture. But today,
spatial-aesthetical decision on the part of the architect, they also reflect a political the rapidly expanding Moloch São Paulo could not be further away from the hopes
vision. In various interviews, Mendes da Rocha has consistently formulated his for a fairer living environment. Nevertheless, the “Poupatempo” embodies in an
provocative view: “Essentially, there is no private space. There are only varying ideal way the architect’s beliefs and his vision of architecture’s role in society. 127

Indeed, to reiterate and re-emphasize what is most remarkable about Mendes in São José dos Campos and Taboão Elementary School (1962) in São Bernardo do
da Rocha and his person: his remarkable contribution to architecture covers the Campo show a dialogue between their compact volumes and the landscape which is
entire spectrum of scale. His beliefs and radicalness are evident from his interest shaped and excavated. The Godofredo da Silva Telles School (1967) in São Bernardo
in the city and his visions for society, right up to the design of construction details. do Campo is characterized by its volumetric restraint and secrecy. The main
That is the transformation value of his work and of his thoughts in the relationship feature of the President Roosevelt Secondary School (1968) in São Paulo is its inner
“Architecture and City.” Raumplan, the programme is arranged by a system of mezzanines interconnecting
classrooms from different floors. The SENAI Technical School (1968) in São Paulo
Illustrations shows an audacious structural typology which is reduced to the essentials with
Fig. 01  Skyline Megacity São Paulo a single central structure. Similarly, the project for the SENAC Technical School
Fig. 02  Mendes da Rocha, Poupatempo Itaquera, São Paulo, 1998 (1968) in Campinas reinterprets the role of supports, creating an atmospheric
Fig. 03  Pedestrian bridge connecting metro station and Poupatempo zenith lighting. Finally, at the Jardim Calux Primary School (1972) and the Caetano
Fig. 04  Open entrance, Poupatempo de Campos High-School (1976) the classroom spaces extend outwards meeting the
Fig. 05  Open space of urbanity, Poupatempo natural landscape.
Fig. 06  Open structure, Poupatempo
These nine schools show the permanent features in Mendes da Rocha’s architecture:
Fig. 07  Section Poupatempo
structure defining the shape, cantilevers as a feature of modernity, the best possible
Fig. 08  Section Connecting bridge, Poupatempo
performance of reinforced concrete, volumetric rotundity opposing the continuity of
interior spaces, and adaptation to the topography of the site by opening the building
Notes and references
outwards and connecting interior and exterior spaces.
1 Habermas, Jürgen: Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (1962), new ed., Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,
1990, p. 156. Topography and section
2 Mendes da Rocha, in: Spiro; Annette: Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Bauten und Projekte, Zürich: Mendes da Rocha started his research on the shape of educational spaces with the
Niggli 2002, p. 253. construction of Antonio Vilela School (1960) in Campinas. The building is not limited
to a regular prism, but its trapezoidal section defines the shape of the whole edifice,
3 Mendes da Rocha, Paulo: A cidade para todos, in: Artigas, Rosa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 2nd
evoking the prisms with sloped faces used by Niemeyer and the rational austerity of
ed. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2002, p. 171.
architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy.
4 Artigas, Vilanova: Arquitetura e construção, in: Acrópole, São Paulo, Nr. 368, Dec. 1969. The design is planned on the basis of the section and the wrapping roof is its
Published in: Artigas, Vilanova: Caminhos da arquitetura (1981), 3rd ed., São Paulo: Cosac & most relevant feature.4 A two-storey body hosting the classrooms is overhung by
Naify, 1999, p. 85. the sloped roof which defines an indoor communitarian space, used as a meeting
point to promote the spirit of coexistence. The spatiality indoors contrasts with its
external tightness, emphasised by a pair of huge and abstract blind walls on each
The schools of Paulo Mendes da Rocha edge of the building –just were the entrance is located- and the sloped brise-soleil
Jaime J. Ferrer Forés face enclosing the classrooms in order to provide an adequate environment for such
ETSAB, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Barcelona TECH educational spaces.
The building for Sueli Antunes de Mello Primary School (1962) in São José
Introduction dos Campos was conceived by Mendes da Rocha as part of the landscape. It
The structural innovations introduced by Paulista architects opened an alternative to settles in the site through a horizontal and massive volume which dialogues
the plasticity of Carioca architecture. They countered the groundbreaking language with the topography, which is shaped and excavated. The building was planned
developed by Niemeyer which -making used of a repertoire full of references to as a massive body resting on the slope of the plot and supported by an axis of
Le Corbusier’s work- merged both new formal codes and features from traditional concrete legs which taper off towards the ground. Thus, the base of the building
architecture. Paulo Mendes da Rocha studied in the School of Architecture and is permeable and allows the communal spaces on the ground floor to extend
Urban Planning of Universidade Mackenzie in São Paulo. In his words, “It is towards a roofed courtyard where an amphitheatre is excavated, emphasising the
impossible to think of formal transformations if one does not know how to carry educational use of that public space.
them out”. 1 Opposing the formal expressivity of Carioca architecture, the technical The classrooms are located on the upper floor and the communal spaces are
conscience became the most relevant characteristic of the “Paulista School” and its arranged around the central double-height foyer, which is lit from above through
greatest exponents: Vilanova Artigas and Paulo Mendes da Rocha. four pyramidal skylights. The classroom façade is solved by a brise-soleil composed
Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Vitória, 1928) was the son of a civil engineer; his of several concrete elements stressing the idea of a unique material and the
career responds to both the rigorous accuracy of engineering and the poetics of conception of the building as a monolithic volume. But it also provides the necessary
construction. 2 After training with Vilanova Artigas in Universidade de São Paulo, he sun protection and adequate lighting indoors. The perimeter concrete enclosure,
started his professional work with the design for the gymnasium at the Paulistano separated from the roof, allows natural light inside through a small horizontal
Athletic Club (1958). This building shows the strong convictions of the architect, from screen acting as a reflector, distributing daylight in the classrooms. This brise-soleil
the compact shapes in the project for the Goiâna Jockey Club (1963) to the sculptural system, avoiding the frontal character of the façades, will later be developed in
expression of concrete in his own house (1964). But also from the topographic single-family houses, articulating the enclosure and the cantilevered roof and thus
integration of the Brazilian Pavilion in Osaka Expo 70 (1970) to the structural audacity creating a typology of façade characterized by its depth and density and also able to
of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (1986).3 His consistent career is based on generate richer inner spaces for residential use. An example of such façade is the
technology and the pursuit of rationalization, combining modernist abstraction, house that the architect built for himself in Butantã, São Paulo, in 1964.
geometric rigour and formal discipline. The clarity of concrete volumes, from project Mendes da Rocha carried on with this architectural research in the project for
to construction, and the integration of the building in the landscape are basic and Taboão Elementary School (1962) in São Bernardo do Campo. In this case, the architect
permanent features of this Paulista architect. took importance away from the façades in favour of the inner spatiality. The building
uses the slope of the site to develop the programme in different levels according to
Schools and permanent features different educational uses which are brought together at the central foyer in order to
From 1950’s, the State Government and the municipality of São Paulo launched a set of promote communal living. 5
ambitious educational programmes and action plans to address the lack of educational The land is shaped and excavated by Mendes da Rocha in order to define the
facilities and to strengthen the role of the school as a symbol of community. Mendes architectural site. As one of the most essential actions in the project, the topography
da Roche was aware of the important mission of schools, his “patient search” has led is transformed not only to set the building but to conceive it as the active basis
to a prominent corpus of educational buildings which balance functional versatility with for architecture.
constructive rigour and adaptation to the site. These buildings show the architect’s Le Corbusier thought that the floor was actually a “horizontal wall”. For Paulo
confidence in the possibilities offered by new construction materials in order to achieve Mendes da Rocha, “building the site is not to occupy it, but to invent it”.6 The
a more essential architecture, with no superfluous elements. They try to express their construction of a building means adding another stratum to the floor. A succession
contents and develop innovative building techniques and formal novelties previously of linked floors generates a sequential promenade which underlines the dynamic
tested in residential typologies. perception of the space. It reminds one of the building for the Secondary School in
These educational buildings reveal the permanent features of Mendes da Rocha’s Guarulhos (1960-1962) by Vilanova Artigas, as well as the formal innovation introduced
architecture, a combination of formal clarity, technical innovation and functional by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon in his massive decks and light roofing shells. In this
versatility. This journey, showing the determining role of building technology in the vein, Mendes da Rocha is the author of significant works such as the connected decks
process of project materialization, started in the early Antonio Vilela School (1960) from the Goiâna Jockey Club (1963) or the sculpted deck at the Brazilian Museum of
128 in Campinas. Later, the building for Sueli Antunes de Mello Primary Schools (1962) Sculpture (1986) which stresses its stereotomic nature and belonging to the earth. 7

E N B L A N C O · N º 1 5 · 2 0 1 4 · P a u lo M E N D E S D A R O C H A
Containment and continuity side. Emphasising the concept of a single volume, the building evokes the School of
The permeability of the plinth in the building for the Godofredo da Silva Telles School Architecture and Urban Planning of São Paulo (1961) designed by Vilanova Artigas
(1967) in São Bernardo do Campo summarizes the idea of volumetric containment and where “the perception of spatial abundance allowed by the structure promotes the
spatial continuity, extending the space of the classrooms outwards. The driving idea spirit of coexistence”. 16
is a huge and massive volume expressing a strong expansive nature and shaping the The roof, in the shape of a grid pattern of skylights, provides an unexpected contrast
interior landscape, which is devoted to public representation and characterised by the with the external tightness. It rests on an expressive tree-shaped column located in
zenith lighting of the space.8 Mendes da Rocha combines the topographic slope with the centre of the space, evoking the Y-shaped columns often used by Niemeyer. This
the visual expansion and the richness of the atrium. He emphasises the structural expressive column will be the forerunner of the symbolic support composed by the
solution through a series of wide reinforced concrete arches supported by pillars intersection of two large concrete arches which constitutes the most important feature
of variable section. The design of these pillars is based on triangles expressing the of the Brazilian Pavilion for Expo’70 in Osaka (1970). The building had an extensive
structural loads, but also alluding to the solution proposed by Vilanova Artigas for the reticulated roof of skylights resting on such expressive support and flowing upon the
Secondary School in Guarulhos (1960-1962). artificial landscape formed by the building.
The classrooms are located on the upper floor and communal spaces are arranged Landscapes and enclosures
around the administrative and management areas, which divide the central double-
Lastly, the most prominent school building from the first phase of Mendas da Rocha
height atrium. The classroom façade uses a brise-soleil system contrasting with the
is the Jardim Calux Primary School (1972) in São Bernardo do Campo. The educational
tightness of the monolithic and continuous concrete enclosure, which rising off the
programme is hosted under a single folded shaped roof which seems to be floating
floor demarcates a gathering and meeting place. 9
above the sloping ground, generating an open space lit from above. In order to
This huge body floating above the ground favours the spatial continuity of the landscape.
emphasise the spatial continuity, the surrounding scenery is incorporated inside the
It evokes the megastructure of the roof designed by Vilanova Artigas for the School of
building through a set of architectural linking elements such as terraces, atriums,
Architecture and Urban Planning of São Paulo, which defines the interior landscape
ramps, porches and gardens, which are actually planned as teaching places to discover
creating a spatial continuity along the six floors of the building, “linked through gentle
the natural landscape.
and wide ramps, with slopes aiming to convey the image of a single plane”. 10
The ground flows beneath the building while the large roof generates a big
The idea of a central atrium with zenith lighting as the main space for coexistence
communal porch which favours gathering and meeting spaces. The huge threshold of
and public representation was put into practice by Mendes da Rocha in the President
the building acts as a teaching space together with an amphitheatre which has been
Roosevelt Secondary School (1968) in São Paulo. A set of wide ramps links the slabs
shaped from the rugged topography.
on both sides of the atrium -which are half-height level with regard to the other
The framed horizontality of the building demarcates a place on the landscape which
side- as the architect had previously tried in the Avaré Court building (1962).11 This
shapes the site: a topography transformed to bring the relationship between the ground
chain of spaces at different levels forms a dynamic section of the building, a sort
and the great framed roof together. These topographic procedures were taken up again
of Raumplan providing spatial movement and an appropriate functional adaptation
in the project –not built- for the Caetano de Campos High-School (1976), where Mendes
making use of the variance of levels. This same spatial continuum was later widely
da Rocha developed some issues which had already been tested in the design of the
developed in the project for the Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of
James Francis King House (1972) in São Paulo. The horizontal volumes floating above
São Paulo (1975), with its characteristic chain of ramps.
the ground are hollowed out shaping an inner landscape characterised by its spatial
Outside, the façade is setback from the support line and its main features are the
openness and the inside-outside connection.
concrete elements to protect the building from sunlight. The finishings are simple
The whole educational programme is held within a great prismatic volume which
and modest, fitting the premises set by “Vilanova Artigas” and the Danish architect
is hollowed out with patios and surrounded by perimeter galleries unifying the
Jørn Utzon who said: “an audacious structure demands a modest finishing”. A
composition. The school is supported by pilotis and the ground flows beneath the
couple of reservoirs are located on the roof as a counterpoint to the horizontal
building. The setting of the building on the site is concluded through some topographic
dominance of the building.
operations which intensify the relationship between the edifice and the ground, creating
Structure and cantilevering its own interior landscape underneath the building.
The Paulista School is characterised by its structural emphasis. Both Mendes da Conclusion
Rocha and Vilanova Artigas tested the technical possibilities of reinforced concrete
This retrospective look upon the field of schools with a chronological journey through
through the design of wide span structures for buildings which were planned as huge
nine educational buildings shows the constant features of the architect Paulo Mendes
public infrastructures. In the words of Vilanova Artigas, architecture is “little more than
da Rocha. Based on his fidelity to principles, his work is consistent and essential to
defying the law of gravity. Reducing supports, launching spans, balancing. All the rest
creating spaces shaped from technical know-how and structural reasoning.
is comfort. A little comfort here, a little bit of comfort there…”12 He thought that “the
Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s career started in 1957 when he won the competition for
structure should not play the humble role of a skeleton, but should express the grace
the Legislative Assembly of the State of Santa Catarina in Florianopolis. This building
with which all new materials allow the mastering of cosmic shapes, with the elegance
already showed the importance that he attaches to the relationship between the edifice
of greater spans and lighter forms”. 13
and the ground. 17 The building is composed by an elegant prism resting on expressive
The SENAI Technical School (1968) in São Paulo shows an audacious structural
and sculptural supports which follow the maxim by Auguste Perret: “architecture is
typology which is reduced to the essentials. The design proposed by Mendes da
the art of making supports sing” 18; an expression that was also defended by Vilanova
Rocha is based on a central structural core composed by rectangular columns,
Artigas. In the work of Mendes da Rocha the weightlessness of the supports and the
which emphasises the independency between structure and enclosure by moving the
fine joint points contrast with the monolithic image provided by the use of reinforced
supporting elements to the central axis. 14 It represents an architectural expression
concrete. An early example is the Paulistano Athletic Club (1958) whose legs taper off
consistent with reinforced concrete, underlining the lightness, transparency and
towards the ground supporting the roof composed by a concrete ring. A late example is
weightlessness of the building. The school calls on an already tested typology, arranging
the audacious structure designed for the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (1986) with a
classrooms and other spaces around a two-storey central atrium with zenith lighting.
huge slab of 60 metre span.
The structural challenge posed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha shows his progressive
These nine pieces of architecture based on technology and nature extend the public
confidence in building technology. In his designs for the Pompidou Centre in Paris (1971)
domain of educational institutions and are pedagogical examples of the most essential
and the Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of São Paulo (1975) he took the
lessons by Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
maximum structural performance to its limits, stressing cantilevers as a feature of
modernity. The structural achievement of these projects becomes critical in their wish Notes and references
for abstraction through architecture which aspires to suspension and weightlessness.
1 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, “Genealogia da imaginação” in Rosa Artigas: Paulo Mendes da Rocha.
Approaching the lightness of carioca style, the tree-shaped structure with a central
structural core contributes to the levity and abstraction of the vigorous volumes floating São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2000. p. 71.
above the ground.15 2 The architect explains that from childhood he “used to rely on the transformative power of
The SENAC Technical School (1968) in Campinas summarizes the above constant technology”. In Paulo Mendes da Rocha, “Genealogia da imaginação” in Rosa Artigas: Paulo
features in the work of Mendes da Rocha: the central atrium with zenith lighting as Mendes da Rocha. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2000. p. 69.
the main communal space; the spatial continuum created by a chain of linked floors; 3 Mendes da Rocha; Josep M. Montaner and Maria Isabel Villac (Introductions). Gustavo Gili,
the tight and wrapping continuous concrete enclosure and the volumetric restraint Barcelona, 1996.
opposing the spatial continuity on the ground floor where communal spaces are
4 The project, with the collaboration of João Eduardo de Gennaro, was published in Acrópole, no.
extended outwards.
This folded shape, open and rising off the floor, hosts all the educational programme 342, 1967. p. 24-25.
under a single roof. It also has a zenith lighting and rests on columns. The wrapping 5 The project, with the collaboration of João Eduardo de Gennaro, was published in Acrópole, no.
concrete enclosure directs the structural loads to a pair of concrete columns on each 342, 1967. p. 29. 129

6 Isabel Villac. La construcción de la mirada. Naturaleza, ciudad y discurso en la arquitectura de Catherine Otondo, José Paulo Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura
Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Barcelona, 2002. Doctoral Thesis. Director: Josep Quetglas. p. 296. Contemporánea, 2011. Acrópole, no. 342, 1967
fig. 05  Paulo Mendes da Rocha President Roosevelt Secondary School in São Paulo, 1968.
7 Helio Piñón states that plinth in Mendes da Rocha “becomes the artificial earth’s crust, as a
Catherine Otondo, José Paulo Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura
result of transforming its topography”. Helio Piñón: Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Barcelona: Edicions
Contemporánea, 2011
UPC, 2003. p. 10.
fig. 06  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: SENAI Technical School in São Paulo, 1968. Catherine Otondo, José
8 At a time of lack of freedom and permanent social and political claims, Vilanova Artigas Paulo Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea, 2011
designed the great atrium for the School of Architecture and Urban Planning in Universidade Fig. 07  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Escuela técnica SENAC en Campinas, 1968. Annete Spiro: Paulo
de São Paulo de (1961-1968) as a place for public representation. Paulo Mendes da Rocha Mendes da Rocha. Bauten und Projekte, Sulgen/Zúrich: Niggli, 2002
states that “the responsibility of architects does not lie with architecture itself, but with the fig. 08  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Jardim Calux Primary School in São Bernardo do Campo, 1972. Annete
political action”. Paulo Mendes da Rocha: La ciudad es de todos. Barcelona: Fundación Caja Spiro: Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Bauten und Projekte, Sulgen/Zúrich: Niggli, 2002. Catherine Otondo,
de Arquitectos, 2011. p. 24. Se also Amadeo Ramos Carranza: La FAU-USP de Vilanova Artigas José Paulo Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea, 2011
(1961): Arquitectura y modelo de enseñanza. Proyecto, Progreso, Arquitectura, no. 1, 2010. p. fig. 09  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Project for the Caetano de Campos High-School in São Paulo, 1976.
60-75 nd Mônica Junqueira de Camargo: El edificio de la Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, Rosa Artigas: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2000
Universidad de São Paulo y la formación de los arquitectos, Dearq, no. 9, 2011. p. 168-181. fig. 10  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Legislative Assembly of the State of Santa Catarina in Florianopolis, 1957.
9 The folded structure is the evolution of the brise-soleil system composed by concrete parapets.
It folds down and extends the parapets defining a monolithic enclosure. This folded structure
separates from a continuous skylight which emphasises the rough concrete texture. Design strategies of PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA: the annex of MuBE
10 Vilanova Artigas. Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo en la Universidade de São Paulo, 2G, Rafael Antonio Cunha Perrone
no. 54, 2010. p. 72.
11 This great inner atrium lit from above and hosting the ramps evokes the 12 de Outubro High
The design of an annex always generates debates between existing work and the one
School in São Paulo (1962) by Vilanova Artigas. This building is characterized by a daring
that will be incorporated. By definition, the figure of a construction that must form
structure with double cantilever. It is published in Vilanova Artigas. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e part of the existing or be conceived as part of it, raise design concerns between part
P.M. Bardi; Fundaçao Vilanova Artigas, 1997. p. 118-119. and whole, primary and secondary.
Although not well known, the annex design of the MuBE (Brazilian Museum
12 Vilanova Artigas. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi: Fundação Vilanova Artigas, 1997. p. 184. of Sculpture) can help in finding possible interpretations of Paulo Mendes da
13 Vilanova Artigas. Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo en la Universidade de São Paulo, 2G, Rocha’s design strategies (PMR). The fact that he designed it himself, as if it were
no. 54, 2010. p. 72. a temporary continuity to the design of the Museum generates a set of questions
14 This typology of structure was developed by Vilanova Artigas in Colônia de Férias dos Têxteis in
relevant to the constitution of architect language and raises new questions about the
Praia Grande, Saõ Paulo (1969).
issue of the annexes in architecture.
In answer to these questions, interpretations are found in the Brazilian Sculpture
15 For a deeper analysis of the structures designed by Paulo Mendes da Rocha see: José María Museum - MuBE (1986-8) (1) and the proposed annex (1990). The first derives
García del Monte: Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Conciencia arquitectónica del pretensado. Nobuko, from the naming of it “stone in the air”, easily recognizable and emblematic of
Buenos Aires, 2011 and Fernanda Seleme: La tectónica de la Casa Gerassi. El prefabricado en the built work, and the second in an archetypical stone that appears in one of the
la obra de Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Graduate Work for the Master in Theory and Practice of presentation sketches. (Image 1).
Architectural Design of ETSAB. Director: Jaime J. Ferrer Forés, 2012. Considering the three definitions in the Curl dictionary, an annex may be formulated as:
16 Vilanova Artigas. Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo en la Universidade de São Paulo, 2G, 1. The wing of a building
no. 54, 2010. p. 72. 2. The supplementary building design to provide additional accommodation such as
17 The project for the Legislative Assembly was design with the collaboration of Pedro Paulo
de Melo Saraiva and Alfredo S. Paesani. It was publishe in Acrópole no. 232, 1958. In the
3. The addition to a building if in front of (avant corps) and if behind ( en arrière
specifications of the project Mendes da Rocha explains “os dois pilares externos, obedecem a
corps). (CURL, 2006, 28)
um perfil escultórico, de forma a ancorar o laje do térreo.”
The concern with the relationship or composition is not presented as very
problematic when key buildings and annexes are produced together, at the time
18 Vilanova Artigas states: “I always designed the supporting point of my works in a of developing the main building, and both are part of the project design. See for
specific and original way”. Vilanova Artigas. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi: example the Palladio project for the Villa Godi (1542).
Fundação Vilanova Artigas, 1997. p. 33. The extensions specified by annexes are usually made by ​​ others and at different
times from the main building. Having as an objective to complement a whole that is
already established, always generate inquiries about its form and its relationship to
-- ARTIGAS, Rosa. Paulo Mendes da Rocha. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2000. the existing building.
-- MONTANER, Josep Maria. y VILLAC, Maria Isabel (ed). Mendes da Rocha; Gustavo Gili, An example of these controversial questions was related to the annex design
Barcelona, 1996. (1992) to the Guggenheim Museum by Charles Gwathmey and Robert Siegel.
To this annex, one should add the renowned project by Wright, made in ​​ 1943,
-- VILLAC, Maria Isabel. “La construcción de la mirada. Naturaleza, ciudad y discurso en la
an extensive program that included studios, exhibition spaces, theater,
arquitectura de Paulo Mendes da Rocha”, Barcelona, 2002. Phd Thesis. Director: Josep
warehouses, etc.
To avoid defacing the building of the museum, the annex was proposed as a
-- PIÑON, Helio. Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Barcelona: Edicions UPC, 2003. moderate and severe prismatic volume, with ten floors, located in the rear of the
-- VVAA. Paulo Mendes da Rocha: La ciudad es de todos. Barcelona: Fundación Caja de main building. Given that:
Arquitectos, 2011. The aesthetic relationship between the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd
Wright and the addition made by Gwathmey / Siegel is characterized by a
-- 2G, no. 54. Vilanova Artigas. Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo en la Universidade de São
harmonious co- existence, making the new addition work with simple geometry,
as a backdrop to the original modern museum with curved form s and reinforcing
-- Vilanova Artigas. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi: Fundação Vilanova Artigas, 1997. its aesthetic qualities. (REIS, 2007, no page number.) (Our translation)
-- GARCIA DEL MONTE, José María. Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Conciencia arquitectónica del The relationship between the annex and the main building are always examined.
pretensado. Nobuko, Buenos Aires, 2011. At different times, these concerns have been addressed through various stances.
Brief quotations of cases from recent decades are exemplified.
Illustrations The extensions of the Louvre (1988-1991) of I. M. Pei and the British Museum
fig. 01  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Antonio Vilela School in Campinas, 1960. Catherine Otondo, José Paulo (1994-2000) by Foster are annexes whose interventions created structural changes in
Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura Contemporánea, 2011. Acrópole, no. the organization in each of the constructions. In the Louvre, Pei articulated several
342, 1967 accesses towards the wings of the Museum by means of tunnels. Its formal appeal
fig. 02  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Sueli Antunes de Mello Primary School in São José dos Campos, 1962. barely emerges through the use of classic pyramid shapes. In Foster’s project,
Acrópole, no. 342, 1967 the annex also redistributes access through a translucent dome that relates the
fig. 03  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Taboão Elementary School in São Bernardo do Campo, 1962. circle of the Reading Room building with the quadrilateral courtyard and the wings
Catherine Otondo, José Paulo Gouvêa: Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Córdoba: Fundación Arquitectura of the neoclassic building (1823) by Robert Smirke. In both solutions, the annex takes
Contemporánea, 2011. Acrópole, no. 342, 1967 the circulation and the accesses to the wings of Museums as the articulate element
130 fig. 04  Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Godofredo da Silva Telles School in São Bernardo do Campo, 1967. of the visits.

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Other proposals can be visualized in the designs of Venturi and Scott Brown with Surely this debate was not ignored by PMR when it came to his proposal for the
the annex to the National Gallery in London (1988-91) and in another by Pei for the Museum and its annex.
National Gallery of Art in Washington (1974-1978). In the first, the architectural attitude The São Paulo “box” in the MuBE pursues continuity. It follows two strategies
is imitative in relation to the existing building, the second is revealed through a common to the works of the architect and his predecessors: the first is the use of the
contrasting body. horizontal plane (3), as a plate or livable volume resting on the ground. The second is
There are other more contextual perspectives derived from readings that take into the movement of the terrain itself that acts as a breeder of geography.
account the location and history of the buildings, as revealed by Rafael Moneo on the Another common feature in the diverse works of PMR is that from a conception of a
expansion of the Prado Museum (1998/2007), that after a careful reading of the existing clear and concise structure, emerges the architectural work.
building’s history states: In the modern ideology, identity between form-structure is revealed in many works.
Anyway, I’m always interested in seeing architecture through time and, as an It was manifested, through exoskeletons, exposing the structure as a frame of plastic
architect, understanding the previous episodes in the life of the building before you vigor, as is the Palacio de los Soviets. Also presented, were elements designed as an
start designing a new one. However, this description of the expansion of the Prado expression of the force lines of the building loads, V. Artigas, in the columns of the FAU
Museum should be read as a chronicle of the life lived as a single building, with the (1961-2), or by PMR himself, in the supports of the São Paulo Gym Club (1958).
design by Juan Villanueva, since its inception in 1792 to the present. (MONEO, 2010,
page 636) (Our translation). Peculiar strategies
Reading, language, construction techniques, contrasts, records, mimicry, etc… For PMR, gravity should refer to the immemorial act of “lifting the stones” and the
Various design and program interpretations are noted referring to annexes with form-structure is expressed by the magic of that lifting, in an ingenious “resting” of
different proposals to build in the built. architecture.
For MuBE and its annex, some of them presented and recorded continuities and The skeleton acquires the charm of its attenuation, as a result of two schemes: the
turning points in the trajectory of PMR. first, not to reveal the supports, leaving them hidden in the shadows of the slabs (PMR
House, 1964), the second is the use of structural walls to the floor, without being able to
The project’s roots identify the supports (Form store 1987).
There has always been an enquiry into the meaning of one of the sketches presented The search is always that of lightness, a plane or volume floating in the air. In the
on the occasion of MuBE Project memorial. It shows a dark stone half buried in house, this is accentuated by the ground motion. The volume barely seen by a crack
the ground, behind a beam or slab on which the view of that rock is enclosed in a makes us inquire how it is supported. In the case of the store, the “levitation” occurs
horizon (Fig. 1). through the suspension of the window that de-materializes the notion of support
Doubt between slab and beam fades when human figures are seen designed in volume of the store.
perspective. We conclude that it is a slab on which people walk, the stone on the floor, The crack is presented acting as a narrow horizontal border under the volumes that
as a reference. instead of accentuating its weight, awakens the curiosity of how it is suspended.
The stone on the floor is clearly recognized as a framework a “cornerstone” (2). Its Another strategy in continuity is that of splitting the program into two main groups of
installation is given in ceremony of laying the first stone as an opening act. A milestone environments: one containing the functional and the other hosting the main. A resource
founder, since from its location, all other stones added to the work derive from it. that is, admittedly, suitable in various works. Excellent examples are the Neue National
However, the building is identified by its large portico, as if it were a “stone in the Gallery (1962-8) by Mies and Canoe House by Niemeyer (1951-4).
air”, presented in another sketch where the portico slab flies over the passersby, In the works by PMR, this configuration is also present, but the relationship
another sketch of Figure 1. Although the portico marks a territory, it can hardly be between the base and upper volume are affected by a geography designed to receive
considered a “cornerstone”. the upper volume.
Where is this archetypical stone found in the first sketch? Is it possible to find it in Using, in sections, ground movements while accommodating environments and the
the Museum project analysis (1986-1988) and Annex made in 1990? availability of generating spaces for the upper volume spaces.
The formal definition of the MuBe is marked by the proposal of a single “box” or Take note on previous ones like; the São Paulo Gymnasium (1958), Osaka Pavilion
covering that embraces its various functions. A support registers a recognized strategy (1969), MAC / USP (1975) and the Rio de Janeiro Library (1984). In them, the drawing of a
in the architecture of PMR and other authors, mainly in São Paulo between 1960 and “ground”, makes the expression of a form-structure-cover possible.
1980. Note that this stance continues today. Take note also of the interpretation of Jorge Torres when analyzing these strategies
It can be seen on a sheet of the sketch (fig. 2) in 1969, where Vilanova Artigas in the housing projects of PMR:
explains some of the features of the building to students who will use the new PMR refers to the origins of all construction. Protecting with its shadow the
building planned for FAUSP. dwelling of man is the beginning of everything and, also with one direct way:
In addition to the consideration of the circulation ramps which would have access Have a horizontal plane between heaven and earth. -As a millenary and atavistic
to all activities and create sociability between spaces, there are, on the right side, dolmen - establishing a symbolic boundary between the spheres of man and nature
some drawings which express opposing views to the existing in several buildings of (TORRES, 2009, p. 127)
modern architecture. According to Sophia Telles, for PMR: “The key to his starting point is the
Most of these buildings are characterized by the composition through connections implementation, a delicate operation of scale that maintains an almost physical
between environments individualized by functions. A school, for example, would be proximity between two planes: the building and the land” (TELLES, 1995, p. 81).
designed in blocks: library, classrooms, administration, auditorium, studios etc. In the MuBE, the large portico assumes the status of an evocative value. In line
According V. Artigas, the FAU was proposed to form a subject with a with Foucault, one might think that it is a synthesis that shapes the memory of
comprehensive view of knowledge. Thus, the building would not contain functionally “construction”. The “stone in the sky” is used as a memory of all architectures, a
separate environments. A student would not only be studying in the library, “permanent, non-profit element, at the service of society and its development, open to
designing in the study, learning in a classroom, or doing research in a workshop. the public which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits material
The integrated learning of the architect brings connection and the sharing of evidence of man and his environment, for education and enjoyment of society “(4).
activities. Just as in his other projects, V. Artigas conceived the building as a mono Generally speaking, in a society like ours, heterotopias and heterochronics are
block which hosts a variety of spaces and activities of the school. organized in a relatively complex way. [...], museums and libraries are heterotopias,
In 1989, on the occasion of the internal competition to design an annex for the where time ceases to accumulate and overcome himself, [...]. But the idea of
Faculty, a debate was generated on how to extend the building. The proposal to add accumulating everything, of establishing a general archive, the desire to keep in one
“something” to the building, that on its own left no room for any kind of expansion, place: all times, all tastes, the idea of ​​constituting a place that brings together all
made possible, due to the various projects presented, an overview of the positions of the times that are, themselves, outside time, the project of organizing in this way a
the professors of the faculty itself on the topic. Unfortunately, at the time PMR was type of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, the idea
far removed from his duties at FAU and there was no opportunity for him to know that everything belongs to our modernity. The museum and library are heterotopias
the professors opinions. In the magazine Arquitetura e Urbanismo (AU) at the time, typical of nineteenth-century Western culture. (FOUCAULT, 1967).
commented on the contest for the Annex: A memory of human facilities. The slab is a shadow, a coat on a passage, artifact
It is not an easy task to conceive an annex for the building of V. Artigas: more of the city that drives the daily route between two streets and monumentalizes the
than a building, it was a proposal for teaching... So consistent and strong in its access to its interior. An archetype, a “timeless form of museum understood as public
configuration, which had not been designed to accept an annex. (CASTROVIEJO place, which is characterized by a square and a huge portico, and as a crypt, treasure or
RIBEIRO, 1989, p. 85) (Our translation) archaeological excavation, buried attributing a buried form.” (Montaner, 2003, p. 55)
The winning work was designed by Gian Carlo Gasperini, proposed as a Crystallization of a continuous and incessant route of coming from and provide
concrete horizontal building with a triangular plan, connected by a walkway our existence: “As one who knows that the habitat is not established once and for all,
to the schoolyard (Fig. 3). Its positioning is that of distance due to the use of a the act of the ritual founding of the place is shown, in the MuBE, in its constructive
triangular plan and for the contrasting force that would be given by the use of dimension and aesthetics, and illustrates the continuous updating of archaism which
the reddish concrete. means the ‘living’ “. (VILLAC, 2000, p. 184). 131

In addition to these records, which could characterize an abstract solution of as a private space.
implementation, is found in the understanding of Bastos (5). For her, from the 1980s, in On the whole, the volume is set by precise lines. On one side, it is aligned
PMR, there is a greater absorption of the urban elements of the environment and PMR from the pillar of the portico and on the other, in the continuity of the line that is
no longer complies with the implementation of pure volumes. To Bastos, in MuBE, the generated by the stands in the amphitheater in the exhibitions esplanade. The annex
floor plan does not shy away from organizing the landscape in a succession of planes is proposed as a “cornerstone” having been designed “a posteriori” is prepared even
and levels, with angles removed from the actual shape of the lot, rather than being a to square all the construction.
generic implementation. The volume as the rough stone stuck in the ground. Allows for its observation
However, if the solution of the corner registers an inflection on PMR’s procedures, under the opening of the slab (Fig. 1), very similar to the megalith hinted in the
his adoption in the underground design was not a decision in the first instance. initial sketch.
These angles already appear in the housing project in Catanduva (1979) (fig. 4). There is a stone in the sky and there is a stone on the ground. Thus, in the annex,
Although a member of the repertoire of the architect, in diagrams available, it is PMR revisits his desire to build a “cornerstone”, seen from the first phase of the
revealed that the most relevant design of the underground/ ground floor, that is, the project (Fig. 1). In his steps, now together, the stones recover two expressions: the
wall that accompanies the inflection angle of the street, did not appear at first, but was memory of the architecture and the founding of the place.
derived from elaborations during the design process (Fig. 5). Professor Flávio Motta (9) collaborator of PMR, repeatedly stated in his lectures at
In the house, these inflections emerged as differentiations of the relationship the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo: “Every artist
between pavilion, pool and house. In the museum, they are derived from the shape of builds the floor for the next step.” It is from this that he thought, briefly, about the
the lot, both in section as in plan. In the MuBE, PMR used part of the arsenal of his MuBE project and its annex.
repertoire, taking from the Catanduva solution. He himself recognizes other references: Two views are implied. The first involves the consideration that the architect opens
Henri Moore with his concaves and convexes and René Magritte with the magic of the the paths, his own research - the way that is built for his own steps. The second is
levitation of stone (fig. 6) are quoted commenting in 1986: “When I designed the house in understood as the predications of a work that establishes by means of various paths,
1979, I wasn’t sure if I could talk about it “(6). in other words, a path that is open by each one can be rescued by others.
“This procedure in relation to the lot reveals a condition between” being “and “ And so, this opens many layers, understanding the senses of inhabiting. In the
staying “, the Museum is the place to” unite all time, “but is in one place. Therefore: “It MuBE project, as in many others, PMR retrieves steps in the history of mankind
does not mean commenting on the inflections of the lot, but rather, to make it seen”. and the outlined devices to give them. In his own words:
(TELLES, 1990.90) (Our translation) “Another interesting thing to consider for architecture is that history does
The known sketches reveal that the lower auditorium was located in a position not exist. It only exists between living beings. If the species is extinct, there is
parallel to the auditorium of the square. The triangular water surface, so relevant to the no one that you can call from history. Therefore, we are the history and the next
acceptance of the corner is not in the memorial of the contest drawing [fig. 07]. step of history will come depending on our actions at every moment”.
Searches and studies were also noted in the development of the supports of the (PMR VILLAC, 2000, p. 428).
large slab (Fig. 08).
The dry square and the water surface were not manifested either. In the memorial Notes and references
and plan for the contest, the proposal is another: “the sculpture museum, the art gallery 1 The project team was composed by Alexandre contest Delijaikov, Carlos Jose Dias Dantas, Geni
and ecology will be seen as a large garden with shade and an outdoor theater carved into Sugai, José Armênio de Brito Cruz, Pedro Mendes da Rocha, Rogério Marcondes Machado and
the enclosure. The part of the ecology, face and follow in the form of garden museum in Vera Lúcia Domschke. The study for the contest came in late 1986, the final design project in
Brazil “(7) (our translation). 1987 and the annex design in 1990, according to the architect Pedro Mendes da Rocha.
The Museum has always been criticized for the lack of a museum project, the 2 Foundation stone according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language of the Royal Spanish
lack of heritage, lack of facilities for research, educational activities, assembly and
Academy, 21st edition (1992) “is the first to be set into the buildings - fig. Origin and principle
maintenance. The leading article of the journal Projeto / Design mentions the MuBE as
from which emanates a thing, what serves with base and foundation. “In Houaiss Dictionary of
the high point of the career of PMR. However, criticized for gaps in his program: “the
the Portuguese Language (2001) is “it is a stone that seals an urn containing documents of the
problem of MuBE is the contradiction between its proposal and its effective use: created
day and shows, solemnly, the start of construction of a major work, first stone.”
without any heritage, the space featured some curators. Currently, it is nothing but a party
3 About the horizontal plane, we suggest reading two articles: Edson Mahfuz, “O uso do plano
room “(Projeto / Design, 2001, No. 251, p 110) (our translation).
Closer observation could absolve the project of this deficiency, because the project horizontal na architetura do paulista” (available at:
published in the journal already contained the plan of the annex. / arquitextos/07. 079/284e) and Marcio C. Cunha, “Mies e Artigas: a delimitação do espaço
For the annex, commissioned to PMR in 1990, he applied for a relatively large através de uma única cobertura (available at:
program (1200 m²) in relation to the area of the ​​ Museum. arquitextos/09.108/52).
How and in what way would he install it, in the Museum project, without tainting the 4 Definition of museum approved at the 20th Assembly of ICOM (International Committee of
intentions already defined? Museums), held in Barcelona in 2001.
Due to the difficulties of proposing an addition to the building’s monolithic 5 Article, Maria Alice Junqueira Bastos PMR analyzes several works defending the hypothesis
composition, PMR was facing the difficulty of proposing an “extra body”. Integration
that the architect would, from the 1980s, have an attitude of absorption of close urban existence
or separation from the blocks? Addition or supplementation? What is the procedure in
overcoming the generic implementation ideas of his previous projects..
relation to the internal circulation and the gaps between the streets? How to keep the
6 It should be emphasized that, in September 1986, shortly before developing the concept
portico as a reference to the building?
Paulo Mendes implements a square base volume with three levels in the inner of MuBE, Paulo Mendes da Rocha wrote an article published in the Journal AU nº 8 Out/
corner of the lot, next to the last module in the ground floor. It is a cube, a volume of November-1986 No. 8 (São Paulo, Pini, p. 32 -33) about the Catanduva house saying: “The idea
pure geometry (Fig. 09), as noted by Ruth Verde Zein, in a debate about the building (8). of architecture
​​ as sculpture is not adequate: a construction that ‘looks like’ a sculpture. But the
In this proposed position, it addresses the exhibition galleries and access to loading sculptor Impeto logic, a co-incidence in the urgency of precise and essential in the way language is
and unloading areas. The square plan has two lateral strips, one is a void that receives sometimes imposed, so inexorable between architecture and sculpture. [...] A house that seems very
stairs and elevated platforms, and the other receives storerooms and sanitation, old to impose its modernity. They say about its power to be inside and be on the outside resounding.
reserving in all levels a central area for activities. Day and night, open, immersed in the atmosphere. Like a magic warehouse made with stones
The projected volume is set on the ground and only communicates with the building (Magritte-Les Idees claires) “(our translation).
via a passage to the basement level. The architecture lies in the density with the level of 7 Part of the memorial for the project presentation in the competition was published in the journal
the ground. Projeto / Design n ° 183, p 40-41.
A “box”, giving continuity and foreseeing conjunctions used in several future 8 Discussion conducted between Ruth Verde Zein and the author of the text, in class at Mackenzie
projects. One step that links the past and launches the future. This inflection, which
Presbyterian University on May 21, 2012.
will allow the use of this strategy in several of his later projects, breaks with the
9 Flavio L. Motta (1923 -). He graduated in philosophy at the University of São Paulo (1947). Artist,
use of a mono- block that hosts everything. Closed volumes and the use of division
by functional blocks appear in later works (Praça dos Museus USP-2000, Praça do researcher and professor in the Department of History at the College of Architecture and
Cais-2007- Nova Galeria Leme 2012). Planning (USP). He has participated in the training of students and in the teaching plans of the
Protected by parasols, the cover of the annex recovers the roof through which Faculty.
light passes; the sky for a space for everything (Building FAUSP, Art Gallery).
The volume does not interfere with the perception of the large opening (fig. 10). Acknowledgements
The overhead light avoids the need for windows. The walls descend to the floor. I thank the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha for the transfer of drawing files for
The building is a stone on the ground. There is no access through the square; it is a this study and the architect Pedro Mendes da Rocha for his contribution with some
132 building for internal use. Unlike the public space of the square, the annex is placed clarifications.

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Bibliography PM: If you build, the question is the same, how to build what I am thinking… from the
-- ARTIGAS, Rosa Camargo (org). Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Texts of Paulo Mendes da Rocha first stones that are collected by the monkeys to build we ask ourselves the same thing.
and Guilherme Wisnik. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify / Associação Brasil 500 Anos Visual Arts / Another question is to imagine that what is built will be what architects think.
Fundação Bienal, 2000. But, this is not true for me. What should be built is what the people want and need.
Architecture exists before it is built, the city exists as a desire, and it is not the
-- (Org). Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Projetos 1999-2006. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2007. architecture that invents it. The architect builds houses because they are needed. The
-- Bastos, Maria Alice Junqueira. Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Breve relato de uma mudança. demand comes before, and so we don’t need to invent anything, we have to carry out a
[Short story about a move] Available in: human desire for living on the planet and living well.
arquitextos/10.122/3472. (Accessed 20/09/2010). VM: Even so, there are architects, like you, that are more coherent with this idea and
-- CASTROVIEJO RIBEIRO, Alessandro. A vontade de ser. In AU Magazine -June/July No. 24 of there are those who are less so.
1989. São Paulo: publisher Pini, p 84-88 PM: If it is architecture, it has to be good. It is like talking about physics, good or bad
-- Curl, James Stevens. Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. London: physics does not exist. And also, it has to be for the people, not to win awards.
-- Oxford Press, 2nd ed, 2006. VM: I was thinking, for example, in the didactic character of how the structure and
construction works in the Paulistano Gymnasium in which 6 outer screening in radical
-- Diccionario de la Lengua Española da Real academia Española. Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1992 21st
form solve the problem of the structure and roof in one unique system.
PM: I did my training in ’55. The gym was a public contest in ’58 and so I could do what I
-- Houaiss Dicionario Houaiss da Lingua Portuguesa. Rio de Janeiro: Objectiva. Edition 2001.
wanted. I did not participate in the contest to win, I did it because I liked it and it seemed
-- Foucault, Michel. Dits et écrits 1984, Des espaces d’autres. Conference given in Cercle School interesting. The community was far away from the city and poor, a suburb. After the city
of Architecture on 14th of March 1967. Published in Architecture, Mouvement, Continuité, No. 5, grew, that space was left enclave with the urban scene. My idea was that this sports
October 1984, p. 46-49. Available in centre could be a space in the city to create other events, as they have stands that allow
(Accessed 20/09/2010) for visibility for other uses. For me, it was like how to build a nice theatre in that place
-- MONEO, Rafael. Remarks on 21 works. London: Thames & Hudson, 2010. that would serve sports events, or for other things. (Fig. 01). In these circumstances,
having done my training in ’55, I knew absolutely nothing. I was not a great architect.
-- MONTANER, J. M. Museus para o século XXI. Barcelona: Gustavo Gilli, 2003.
I was before anything else, a legitimate representative of a young architect that worried
-- REIS, Antônio Tarcisio. O Guggenheim De Frank Lloyd Wright an edition of Gwathmey Siegel: about architecture. And, with this freedom, I began to reflex on this matter.
moderno com moderno. Number 7 DOCOMOMO-Brazil, 2007, no page. The first question: the size of the playing space and how to cover a big hollow in
-- TELLES, S. S. A casa no Atlântico, In AU magazine No 60, June/ July 1995. pg. 70-81. such a way that it wouldn’t be heavy. At that time, tense structures were trendy and I
thought about it simply because it was talked about at that time. I did some tests, and
-- TELLES, S. S. Museu da Sculpture, in AU magazine No. 32 October / November, 1990, p. 44-51.
there was even a pavilion built by Sergio Bernardes for the International Exhibition
-- CUECO TORRES, J. Sombras en el territorio: CUECO TORRES, J. (Ed.). Casa por Casa – of Brussels. Bernardes made a concave pavilion with tensed cables in the shape of a
Reflexiones sobre el habitar. Valencia: Editions General Architecture, 2009. p.104 to 133 “tent” with an aperture in the centre. (Fig. 02). It was very interesting from the point of
-- VILLAC, M. I. La construcción de la mirada: naturaleza, cuidad y discurso en la arquitectura de view of the tensions, since that circle of steel was submitted to homogeneous tension
Paulo Archias Mendes da Rocha. Doctoral Thesis. Barcelona: UPC / ETSAB, 2000. all over, I mean, it enjoyed the non-deformality of the circular form. For compression
or traction the circle is deformable. I thought I could do it the same way, light and
-- ZEIN, R. V. Arquitetura Brasileira, escola paulista e as casas Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Doctoral create a structure that protected a square that I imagined excavated to create a much
thesis. Porto Alegre: Universidade do Rio Grande do Sul, 2000. lower building and as a result the stands would go downwards and the roof would be
-- Projeto Design n ° 251 January 2001 - Publication Arco Editorial, São Paulo. suspended above.
The building of Bernardes, and interestingly enough, the building closed occasionally
Illustrations by a helium balloon of a diameter a little bigger that the aperture. The balloon was tied
fig. 01  Sketch of presentation MuBE-Paulo Mendes da Rocha to a cable that came up from the centre of the great space and flew announcing the
fig. 02  Building Sketch FAUSP - drawing by Vilanova Artigas. Heritage of the author pavilion. If it rained, the cable was pulled up and the balloon closed the space.
fig. 03  Sketch of the project for the Annex FAUSP of Gian Carlo Gasperini-Acquis FAUSP Library In the Pualist Gymnasium, I tired to at least use the ingenuity of the project with
fig. 04  Diagram sketch diagram of the Catanduva house. Drawing by the author from PMR the inconvenience that with this system, the height of the centre was greater just
fig. 05  Sketch of MuBE project development -Paulo Mendes da Rocha where I needed more height for the game. So, I thought, instead of doing that, I could
fig. 06  Drawing from oil on canvas of Rene Magritte - Les idées claires. - Drawing by the author. make a structure and hang it from a metal sub-structure that would be support
fig. 07  Presentation plate of the MuBE. Paulo Mendes da Rocha in turn on a base made by a giant circle of concrete that worked with traction( the
fig. 08  Studies of the MuBE porch elevation, Paulo Mendes da Rocha six pillars) tied to a ring that worked with compression and that maintained the
fig. 09  Drawings and illustrations of the Annex project solution. Study Acquis Paulo Mendes da Rocha structure(Fig. 03). A detail which I considered interesting was that this roof had two
fig. 10  Electronic Model of the Annex. Study Acquis Paulo Mendes da Rocha-Author Ricardo Robles. cables, in the way that they came from the point of the concrete until the roof and
back again, with this we achieve in each support there could be a person that could
regulate the tension so that they would all be equal. It is there where we see that
CONVERSATION WITH PAULO MENDES DA ROCHA architecture is, before anything else, the shining success of the technique. One must
Interview held by: have common sense to carry out someone that is desired by everyone. From the roof
Vicente Mas, Isabel Villac, Sergio García-Gasco, Isabel Oliver, Pedro Varella y Caio Calafate to the stands, from the stands to the street … this is public and is for everyone. I just
São Paulo. 2013, April the 13th. Paulo Mendes da Rocha Studio. 17:00 h avoided making a wave, a closed place with everything inside and I tried to make
something open and for everyone. (Fig. 04, Fig05)
VM: It is not possible to understand current concrete architecture without really With all this I learnt that architecture is, in the first place, a discourse about the
knowing your work. For this we are dedicating an issue of Enblanco. knowledge of all things. The pleasure of things, the grace of technique… a technique
I must warn you that, in the beginning, I do nothing in concrete. I decide if it will be in convened with insight, with opportunity. Not just any technique.
steel, concrete or whatever, depending on how I make the project. I don’t consider the This is how I won the contest. And so I came to the conclusion, that one should think
matter of concrete as an architectural style. freely, architecture is not, it is a maybe.
VM: It is true, there are different forms of understanding architecture made with VM: I believe there is a difference between people who studied when you did, at the
concrete: from those who make architecture “carved or excavated” in the concrete beginning of modern architecture and those of today. The ones of today ask - how is it
to those planned creating folding sheets or those who use macle of pure prisms, done? I believe the question is - What is it?
however, there are other people, who consider your case paradigmatic, in which you PM: I agree with you.
use a constructive technique and a structural technique. In reality I did two degrees in architecture. With one I got my title, but after, and I
PM: Always, because you have to build it… guess it was largely due to the success of the gymnasium that I was invited to be an
VM: Not everyone does this, there are more hedonistic, and even abstract forms… assistant of Vilanova de Artigas in the FAUSP [Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo
da Universidade de São Paulo/The Architecture and Urbanism College of University of
PM: You know, I don’t see it that way, I believe that everyone, all architects, work with São Paulo]. And, since this man was very intelligent and a great architect, I began my
constructive systems in the first instance. When they don’t do this, they design anything second degree in architecture as his assistant. I delved into the question of the essence
and ask others how they are going to build it, but in the end someone is going to built it. of those that I already knew were this social dimension of architecture. Vilanova de
VM: The difference lies in when the technique is used to build and when it is used to Artigas came from Marxist training and was a very intelligent and consistent critic.
express architecture at the same time. I really learnt about what architecture is from him. 133

VM: The FAUSP is by Vilanova de Artigas. And is before the gymnasium… PM: Those who say that have to explain themselves. Don’t ask me. Paulist
PM: Yes, it was inaugurated in 1969. (Fig. 06, Fig. 07) I gave two months of class there, architecture for me, it one insists on its existence, is the fruit of FAUSP, because it
but then I was censured by the military of the dictatorship. structured its course based on the relationship between the school of architecture
with the polytechnic school and the faculty of philosophy and humanities. This fact
VM: And you were expulsed from the University… made it possible that science and the critic plan of philosophy co-exist at the same
PM: Not only expulsed, it was forbidden to practice as an architect in Brazil. time. It does not consist in making architecture in order to criticize later; it was
VM: So, what did you do? building a correspondence with the fundamentals of society to say later what was
necessary through science, philosophy and technique. This review sieve is key to the
PM: Don’t ask me because I don’t remember. Have you ever seen a monkey that goes FAUSP and that should be universal to consider it exemplary.
from side to side carrying a banana for no apparent reason? Well, this is what I did… I
did what was necessary to survive. IV: Paulo, tell us a little about the philosophy of art. Who were the people you spoke to
Although, I have to say, I was protected by my colleagues, I worked on several and created this system?
projects… I never planned on leaving the country. PM: Firstly, it would be Vilanova de Artigas who was trained by the polytechnic school
since architecture was the only course given in this school. It became independent
VM: I have here some notes about something you said, “The happiness and the
later, in the years when I began to study. In fact, I studied in the Mackenzie school.
pleasure of using technique”. I believe we see this in your work… even on some
Only after I finished was I invited to work as an assistant to Artigas.
occasions you make allusions towards other technical elements, like the lifts.
The other person, from the sphere of Faculty of Philosophy, who contributed this
PM: That’s it, the technique… new system to the School of architecture, was Flavio Motta, a brilliant man. Artigas and
In the case of concrete it is enough to see the work of Eugène Freyssinet, for Motta were the ones that built the system, since they had the awareness that it should
example. When Mr. Freyssinet experimented with concrete, it was an empirical be like that.
experiment, the technique came afterwards. When he created the pre-stressed Artigas structured the school of architecture and Flavio Motta the department of
concrete structures (Fig. 08), he did not know how to calculate his own experiment. History, from which he started from the concept of history from the point of view of the
He called upon several mathematicians in order to capture on paper what he had present and not the past. The simple succession of events is not history - history is the
experimented in the work. What I want to say with this is that, experimenting is critical look at this succession.
together with technique, it does not wait for calculations. From there, my idea today IV: Flavio Motta participated together with you on the Osaka Pavilion…
is the Schools of Architecture have a great responsibility in the University sphere,
because it allows for the coming in contact with other disciplines; linguistics, PM: When I worked on the Osaka Pavlion I invited this extraordinary man (we were
geography, philosophy, mechanics, etc. For me, architecture is more than what already friends by then) and we discussed what we could put into the pavilion.
people say it is. It is a political profession that takes decision about the city that (Fig. 09, Fig. 10). So, the pavilion had already been designed knowing what would
cannot be taken on its own. be shown inside.
Previously, you spoke about modern architecture. I think all architecture is modern. VM: But probably, what is left of all that is the pavilion itself and not what
An old or future architecture does not exist, it is current - modern. I do not believe in was exhibited.
the fractures that the architectural critics make: functionalism, rationalism… it must PM: Well, the pavilion didn’t survive either. Again, politics came into play and form
always be functional… there are many things in the critic that are already rooted and part of the architecture: curiously, it was confiscated by the military government the
are fruit of theories that are not supported. We must always be current; the big issue day it won the contest. It was published in all the papers and it created a diplomatic
to solve is what we call the contemporary city, which is basically the pleasure of the situation, since the world would find out that the architect who had won would not be
knowledge of concentration. We all want to live in the city and so as a result, able to build it for political reasons. All ministries including Industry and Commerce,
verticality happens. This verticality is the possibility to build a collective house and which were originally Japanese and who had given incentive to Brazil in the universal
the consequence is concentration, which has many motives: the main ones are in the exhibition, decided to go to Osaka and make the pavilion, on the condition that they
first place and it the humanism sphere, the pleasure of being together. Secondly, finish the pavilion and that I go. What was censured was the content and they replaced
the coherence of this concentration with the idea of an efficient public transport. And it with something absurd, indigenous art, hammocks and 4 silly things.
so, this mechanizing of the urban desire, through the horizontal public transport and I went to Japan to build and detail the project. We set up a studio there and spent
the vertical transport of the lifts are key to what we call contemporary architecture and 30 days detailing the project. We were finishing up; they prepared a very interesting
is still in progress. Reinforced concrete, pre-stressed, prefabricated… the technique Japanese banquet with geishas and everything. The universal exhibition was though
of concrete, is the only way to make this vertical tower in the city, I believe. The big up with the idea of being dismantled afterwards and be urbanized as part of the city.
enemy in this question is the individual transport. It is not the same thing as a car per As a result, the pavilion had to disappear after the Expo. That banquet was organized by
house as a dense city, 80 cars per house is dense. Not to mention the pollution. the Music School of Osaka and they asked me if I would like to see the Pavilion remain
From there, with this horizontal and vertical mechanizing, we can work miracles. standing and become the building for the Music School. Of course I said yes, but the
Furthermore, all the systems of the city: electricity, sewage, gas, etc is better carried ambassador said no as he was against the regime. Brazil could have that pavilion
out vertically instead of house by house. All this is not an invention of the architect, there today and so it was demolished for that reason. That was so painful for me. Much
it is an invention by human beings, and architects give expression through the building. more that you know. I never spoke about that because I learnt a lesson from Vilanova
But in a big city, the important thing is not the buildings. In Venice, for example, de Artigas who was also arrested for being a communist. He told me once that when
the grandiose is not the miles of palaces- it is the canals- transforming a marshy he was asked why he didn’t talk about certain issues related to that time, he said that
area by drainage engineering in a territory to be built. There we see architecture and he didn’t have the vocation of San Sebastian that has arrow in his bottom but he still
technique working hand in hand. poses… I learnt not to dwell on things and life goes on.
VM: The large city is difficult to sustain. It is a consumption of territory In Brazil, many people received money from the Government as compensation for
the regime- well known people, I thought it was disgraceful. Even Flavio Motta told
and excessive services.
me in those difficult moments that he had been censured by the military was like
PM: Now, nobody wants a large city. We want our children to walk to school, to go to having a diploma that showed he never belonged to that garbage. They did not have to
the doctor quickly, etc, the great essence of verticality, and therefore of the city, is that compensate me, I did it because I wanted to and I would do it again.
we are together and we speak. The city is made so that we speak. The city in itself is
PV: Currently, Rio de Janeiro is going through a transformation in which it seems that
the great cultural center and the University belongs to all of us.
the labor of the architect is in the background facing speculation and private business.
VM: The origin of culture… the Greek city I would like o get your views on the subject.
PM: I would say that the origin of culture is the word, and to talk we need to be close. PM: Well, it seems that something is corrupt. Everything that is good is corrupt. The
I would even say that for me public or private space should not exist. If there is city is being seen as a business and not as a city. What began as a nice and noble
space - it is public. When you construct a building who owns it? Anyone- one can live idea, as a world encounter of sport or football, has turned into a business absolutely
in a house for 50 years and then another and another. And so, it is for every one, the disastrous for the city. In the case of the World Cup, they could have held the same
city is public. The private space in a city is a fiction. In reality, there is only one private event without a new construction; they only had to fix what was already there. The fact
space - thought. that they built new stadiums is mere speculation and private influence. Architects are
I am going to insist on the fundamental question that all this is political. outside this, and we have no choice but to react politically. The initiatives of the city
The question is what we do with what we know. Man has achieved a degree of should be regulated by political representatives. Now, this is corrupt and in the hands
transformation in matter that allows them to generate atomic energy. This is not what of private initiative and it will take a lot to recuperate. I say it will take a lot to recuperate
the scientists who created it had in mind. 400 years ago, they sent you to the bonfire for because I hope it will be so.
making a discovery, this was also political.
134 VM: What can you tell me about those you call the architecture Paulista? Extract

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