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Session PER007 Text, Building, Nation: Architectural Narrative in South America Chair, Stella Nair

Other Brazilian modernities of 1950-70s

Ruth Verde Zein Prof. Dr. Architect Mackenzie Presbyterian University So Paulo, Brazil

ABSTRACT The internationally consecrated narrative about Brazilian Modern architecture acknowledges a collection of exceptional works abruptly ending with Brasilia (1960). A pluralistic approach to Brazilian Modernity can devise a more interesting and complex panorama, from 1950s anxieties to 1960-70 brutalist trends, surpassing the bias against the so-called tardo-modern tendencies so as to recognize a wide variety of urban developments and outstanding buildings. This session will try to explore other paths and dissimilar approaches aimed to broaden the scene and encourage the appreciation of alternative 1950-60 narratives, with focus on Paulista Brutalist architecture and connections with other similar trends all over Latin and North America.

Other Brazilian modernities of 1950-70s

The internationally consecrated narrative about Brazilian Modern architecture acknowledges a collection of exceptional works, inexplicably born in the 1930s from chance and genius, abruptly ending with Brasilias inauguration in 1960. Fifty years late Brazilian architecture remains, for a foreigner observer, framed in the same frozen images of a glorious past suddenly stopped by a perplexing void. The so-called critical revisions of Modern Architecture written in the 1980s maintained the fiction by ignoring other possible interesting issues, works and architects in Brazil, pausing at the same B&W stills of Brasilias construction site, not bothering to actually visit the place to recheck their assumptions 1 . The growing distance in time adds to several conceptual turnabouts to provide a new scenario in which such worn-out stationary ideas do not suffice anymore: the situation claims to a proper revision. The relative depletion of the post-modern critique against classical modernity gave room to a more sympathetic evaluation of its results stripped of previous Manichean excesses, reconsidering the years 1950s on as a complex, contradictory and valuable heritage, now cherished by a blossoming neo-modern generation of architects after the 1990s. Contemporary pluralistic approaches expanded the floor admitting other perceptions and sensibilities, and opening the possibility to understanding different planetary realities not anymore as distorted mirrors of a supposedly correct or central stand (mostly European), but trying to devise its own parameters of judgment and appreciation. Following that lead it would perhaps be possible to suppose that some subjects, previously labeled under a fixed tag as non-relevant may in fact give new evidence, helping to compose an intensely varied and multifarious situation, inside which different interpretations can be accepted; not as an absolute solution to replace the failing truths, but as discrete parts of a wide, and not necessarily finite jigsaw. One could ask again what could have happened to Brazilian architecture after (and before) Brasilia that remains unseen and unheard of; and also, if the common interpretations about the broader scene in which they were inscribed - meaning, the middle decades of 20th century - should not be looked again from their bare facts, surpassing the ideological bias against the so-called tardo-modernity - a scornful label imposed by the 1980s writers over the 1950-70s tendencies. In order to construct other points of view, it is necessary to look again that panorama dropping the curfews that overloaded it, to better recognize its complexity and variety. In Brazils case such path would turn possible to discover a wide variety of urban situations that go beyond the beaten track of the favelas x Brasilia nearsighted polarity; or else, acknowledging the quality of several outstanding buildings that must be noised about by means of more careful analysis.

1 One can find plenty of biased misconceptions and actual incorrect information in the canonical books of Modern Architecture history about Brazil and Brasilia, as shown in ZEIN & LIMA (2000).

The relevance of such revision does not exclusively attend the historiographer interest. There are some clues indicating that contemporary 21st architecture leans mostly over that modernity of the 1950-70s, and less so, over the classical, preII WW modernity. For sure, both modernities are connected, but they are not quite the same thing, and to attend to their differences turns out to be highly relevant, speciallu when there is no need anymore to stick together against their previous academic enemies. The classical modern roots fed the post-modern revisions and proposals of the 1980-90s; but now they are no more the main source of relevant precedents feeding the contemporary architectures. At least, that is what happens very clearly in Brazils, where the gap between contemporary Brazilian architecture and our classical modernity can only be properly surpassed with the aid of a thorough revision of the 1950-70 decades, its propositions and debates. In other words, in the turn of the millennium, Brazilian architectures roots stand not anymore (or not exclusively) over the classical, Carioca modernity of the 1930-60s, but significantly (although not exclusively) over the uneasy soil of the revisionist Paulista trends of the 1950-70s. This paper aim is to try and explore the possibility of opening other paths, to broaden the scene and to promote dissimilar approaches, looking back from a present-day critical vision to encourage the appreciation of alternative narratives about the 1950-70s; with focus, in the Brazilian ambit, on the Paulista Brutalist 2 architecture . It has also some good reasons to believe that such approach can be useful (at least, methodologically) to broaden the understanding of Latin and North America architectural situation of the same period, providing some similarities that occur, not only by synchronicity, but also, due to actual but often forgotten and subtle connections. Before proceeding, it is necessary to state one or two precisions. The famous Brazilian Modern architecture of the years 1935-60 should be better designated as the architecture of the Carioca School 3 . Also, it is better not to understand its works and authors as a single grain bloc, as to do not impede the possibility of devising the many important and varied levels and shifts it contains; and also, to ease the examination of a possible turning point happening during the 1950s - de facto preceding (and/or superimposing) Brasilias design and construction moment. As a second point, it is necessary to state that it is not the intention of this paper to minimize the importance of the Carioca School and the outstanding quality of its works. Surely, they were deservedly acclaimed on the immediate post-WWII due to its timely international diffusion, magnified by the void of that reconstruction moment - but that appraisal was only possible thanks to their truly excellent
By choosing to restrict the analysis to the Paulista Brutalism of the 1950-70s I do not infer that it was the one and only important tendency of that moment, neither that it has any kind of precedence except the one given by the facts, meaning, that it has an evident quantitative predominance over other manifestations. On the contrary: by assuming a pluralistic position Im quite aware that it is necessary to stay attentive to other simultaneous and different examples. If Im not mentioning them here and now, it is just for practical reasons, and not for lack of interest. 3 Carioca is the patronymic name of Rio de Janeiro inhabitants.

results. Finally, it is also necessary to revise the canonical stories that keep the classical Brazilian (Carioca) modern architecture hostage of a mythical narrative: as an inexplicable exception, or as a displaying of a fancy modern baroque style, as an exception exclusively born from the geniality (meaning, by sheer chance) of a group of talented architects. Thats another frozen narrative, and not a healthy one. So, although it is not this papers focus, it may be necessary to stress a few words to enlarge such simplified vision. Up to the moment, the best effort to surpass such conundrum was made by Carlos Eduardo Dias Comas who contributed to renovate the debate of Brazilian Modern architecture through several articles and essays that apex in his doctoral thesis (Comas, 2002). For this paper, it will have to suffice to clip and quote some of his statements. For example, Comas (1987:22) defines that: Modern Brazilian Architecture is still a consecrated and convenient short to name the work of a school, tributary to the European avant-garde explorations of the 1920s, more attentive to the Italian debate than usually known, openly influenced by Le Corbusier and Mies, surely engaged in the overcoming of the International Style, reconciling as well modernity and tradition expressions and spirit of place and time, in the more general name of Latin culture and in the more particular name of Brazilian culture. This school has no prerogative or exclusivity neither on the modernity nor on the nationality expressions and even lesser it has the credit of representing a national essence; but it is through a simultaneous appeal to a consciousness of time and territory that it determines and establishes itself in the 1930-45 period. One of the important aspects that Comas highlights is the peculiar Brazilian Modern Architecture intent to put forth, in a very early historic moment, the reconciliation of an identity search - through a truly commitment of our modern architects with our past tradition -, along with a concerted effort to insert the country in the contemporary debates. That could be made with the aid of Le Corbusiers ideas, which in any case were thoroughly re-interpreted, so as to gain different colors and significances than those held by the European avant-garde trends. Comas (1987:25) says about that: [The main works of the 1935-1945 period were] Modern buildings of confessed Corbusian affiliation. [] They became the paradigms of a Brazilian School of Modern Architecture that flourished up to 1955. [] This was Modern Architecture that did not claim to be exclusively concerned with the establishment of unprecedented design solutions of universal validity for the unprecedented design problems of the Machine Age, nor intended to be a total rupture with the disciplinary past. This was Modern Architecture that reflected the contextual specifics of a given place and a given history. The reflection was deliberate. By the orthodox canons of the 1920s, a heresy. As it shows in the few clippings above, the panorama is obviously more complex than the tales about it, and can hardly be here summarized at length. As explains Comas: [The above] observations do not exhaust the acknowledgment about [] Modern Brazilian Architecture from 1930-1957. But it reveals that the peak of that

iceberg reposes on a wider and deeper disciplinary basis that cannot be kept under the easy blanket of the geniality sole explanation. In any case, the prestige gained abroad by Modern Brazilian Architecture (or better, by the Carioca School) rebounded home through the amplification of its importance and influence inside the country. After 1945 it begins to be accepted not only as one of the modern trends in the stake but as the mainstream one a situation that helped to assure its predominance up to the inauguration of Brasilia (195760); at least, nominally. Surely, it would not be incorrect to find an outstanding, but perhaps superficial, local unanimity of language and discourse during the 1950s and thats the line of interpretation of Bruand (1981) and less so, of Segawa (1997) 4 . Besides, all around the world architects and architectures showed, during that decades, a remarkable apparent homogeneity that seemed to signalize the triumph of the Modern ideals (as sorted out and proclaimed by the organic critics of Modern Movement). But under the appearances several profound divergences were concealed, different references were being used; distinct attitudes and aims were at stake in many undercurrents that would sprout to full life only in the following decades. Divergences that cannot be explained, unless one looks, with keen eyes, to the underside of that apparent unanimity (Goldhagen & Legault, 2000). The years 1935-1945 are of consolidation of the Carioca School; the next decade, of dissemination of its lessons to other Brazilian regions (COMAS, 2002). After the II World War, several Brazilian architects with already well established, modern (but not quite Carioca) repertories aimed to keep pace with it and explore some of its qualities in their works. But already in the end of the 1940s and in the beginning of the 1950s even during the more promising and fertile moment of the Brazilian Carioca Modern School - there starts a rising opposition against some of its superfluity traits in Brazil and abroad. Even if most of those critiques can be seen today as biased and prejudiced, some substratum lasted. Perhaps it had been quite convenient to assure the particular Paulista 5 mood favoring a drier, simplified and engineer-oriented architecture (as against the apparently superficial, hedonistic and formalist Cariocan architecture). Simultaneously, in the early 1950s some of the Carioca school architects already start to propose some works pointing to new routes: be it in the simpler and direct volumetric examples developed by Oscar Niemeyer (n.1907) from the Parque do
Even when speaking about the 1960s, when things begin to clearly drift apart, both prefer to stick to the idea of a single-minded continuity and closed identity of Modern Brazilian architecture. Bruand, writing in the 1960s, could have been mistaken due to the proximity of the facts; Segawa, writing in the 1990s, do not have this excuse: when he states, for example, that the most important factor concurring to the materialization of an architecture indentified as Paulista is it character of continuity with the Carioca line (1998:148) he shows his utter reluctance of asserting the existence of a Paulista architecture in itself except as a continuation and sameness, blinding the obvious differences in favor of the similarities. Here the attitude is the opposite; or better here Im trying to display a complementary position. From a contemporary point-of-view, there is no need to force a univocal interpretation into a so large and ample panorama; specially, when the examination of the bare facts keep on showing other possibilities. 5 Paulista is the patronymic name from So Paulo inhabitants.

Ibirapuera ensemble in So Paulo (1951-53) on; be it in the example of Affonso Eduardo Reidy (1909-1964) precocious use of large rough concrete structures, as in the Brazil-Paraguay Elementary School (Asuncin, Paraguay, 1952) and in the MAM-RJ headquarters (Rio de Janeiro, 1953), both works of a brutalist language and magnified external transversal porticoes in exposed concrete. Appearing in the scenario at approximately the same time, the rising Paulista Brutalist trend, supported by a talented new generation of local architects with the opportune alliance of some elder masters, begins to turn the game of prestige: from a few special works in the 1950s the trend expands exponentially in the 1960s to assume a prominent position inside Brazilian architectural panorama although it never becomes completely or pacifically accepted by the architectural community, even when its influence was quickly spread to other regions and architects, reaching a peak in the 1970s. After 1961, some of these architects and works were labeled as brutalists: a title shared, but not necessarily accepted, by many others architects and works in Brasil and in several countries all over the world. Scanning again that panorama, one can find good reasons for that label, since there is notable likeness among all so-called Brutalist works and their timing is similar, no matter where 6 : there are few but significant Brutalist examples in the 1950s, there is a virtuoso crescendo in the 1960s and in the 1970s there happens a reiterative repetition and aggrandizement of its formulas - that, along with some technical problems (as for example, the bad weathering of the exposed concrete structures) quickly exhaust the initial creative impulse in to mannerist stylization attitude. Which was, with good reasons, much despised by the 1980s critical revisions - which nevertheless preferred to cast away the water with the baby, by mostly ignoring the best Brutalist examples of the 1960s, for the sake of the worst. So Paulo Brutalist works and architects also shared, in some aspects, similar discourses presented in several international forums of the 1950s, of a vaguely moral tone, leaning on the necessity of recuperating the truly modernity ideals (with different interpretations of what that should de facto mean), urging on the necessity of not betraying those ideals and insisting on the pursuit of an ethical discourse as a proper ground to architecture. Curtis (1996:550) notes the problematic connection between both issues the claim for an ethical discourse and the Brutalist architectures artistic preferences: the themes of naked truth and structural honesty were interwoven in remarkable buildings of the early 1960s, not all of them indulging in grandiose, monumental expression. Despite that, there are several difficulties impeding the establishment of a suitable and uncontroversial connection between brutalist ethical ideas and brutalist architectural forms. What is easy to grasp is that the brutalist architectures partakes some common visual characteristics deriving from similar constructive, plastic and technological features, like the use of raw materials without finishing,
6 The author is currently leading a research on the Brutalist trends of the 1950-70s I other American countries, from Canada, United States and Mexico, giving continuity to my previous researches on the subject in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

the predominant emphasis and display of the structural solutions, a tendency to exaggerate and overstate some chosen details, etc. Nevertheless, when studied more carefully, discourses and results do not completely pair, disregarding the fact that they neednt (even if they wanted) to. Besides, the simultaneity of the Brutalist trend, worldwide spanned in a variety of places, inside different economical, political and historical realities resulted in different national contributions to it, accomplishing peculiar characteristics and dissimilar ideological and political positions 7 . What can be said, in the end, is that, even accepting the name brutalism as a handy label to visually gather so many different works, it still cannot be easily labeled as a steady movement, possibly sharing an exclusively and homogeneous ethical point of view. Although it surely can be perceived as a most homogenous quasi-style: perhaps, the only bond between all the Bruatlist stuff is just what one easily sees when looking from a predominately esthetic and plastic perspective. For all these reasons, and perhaps others, Brutalism cannot be kept still under a narrow understanding that exclusively connects the word with a precise origin (except perhaps, post-war Corbusier); and by no means the title exclusively 8 belongs to the British new brutalism proposals . A more concerted research on the subject can easily track the appearance of brutalist architectures all over the world at precisely the same time, with no single central source (again, except Le Corbusiers), a spreading attribute also recognized by Banham, who cleverly coins another useful tag: that of a brutalist connection: or else, Brutalism as the convenient label to set a complex net of similarities with no neat center. It is perhaps a generational achievement, helped by that moments already easy interchange of images through magazines, which helped to fix it by the reunion of different but similar works, with the aid of some editors and critics who, by their turn, strived to name an internationally spread phenomenon which they could not then fully understand, perhaps, for the lack of a proper historical distance. Although Banham only mentions one Latin American work in his comprehensive, belated (for it was written a posteriori as an account, not as an announcement) and highly controversial book on Brutalism (BANHAM, 1966) he makes an effort to

A complete understanding of the brutalist label and its variants can be seen at Zein (2005) and can be consulted on-line (in Portuguese) at: 8 In his thorough research of Torontos Concrete architecture of the same period here under discussion, Mcclelland and Stewart (2007:12-3) acknowledges the cultural amnesia about that periods architecture (happens everywhere, and it seems, for the same reasons) but prefer not to use the problematic label brutalism, for them, a confuse and to loosely applied tag and makes some considerations about the property of the name and the possible influences of the Smithsons or Le Corbusiers over Canadian architects. I do agree with them that it would be much neat to use any other label than to have to disentangle and the comings and goings of the excessively overloaded name of Brutalism. On the order hand, that is a job one has to do, sooner or later: like many other names used in the History of art and architecture, despite its completely inappropriateness, it is already consecrated and easy to communicate (you just do know when a building can be called brutalist, even if youre not sure of what does that mean); and the last but perhaps more important reason is that by using the name, it is possible to perceive it as another late International Style, connecting its varied manifestations around the world and comparing their similarities and peculiarities.

include as much different examples from different places as possible. If he only mentioned one outstanding Chilean example and do not included some Mexican or Brazilian Brutalist works, that is probably due to his possible unawareness of their existence, for they would perfectly fit in his broad sweeping. The lack of an international acknowledgment of the status and importance of the Brazilian Paulista Brutalist Architecture of the 1957-1975s, pairs with a similar lacking in the internal discourses for different reasons, but with similar consequences. This absence could keep on being disregarded as just another meaningless episode, if not for the fact that the existence and importance of the Paulista Brutalism must be granted, not for the sake of the historical register, but 9 for the sheer quality of its buildings . And also retaking the initial line of reasoning - because they configure the missing link between Moderna Brazilian Carioca School and Brasilia and contemporary Brazilian architecture, that cannot be properly understand without better examining the Paulista Brutalist architecture, whose paradigms were spread and adopted among all the regions of the country after the second half of the 1960s up to the 1970s, almost (but not quite) conforming another school and quickly displacing the Carioca School influence (which was, in any case, already declining after its previous apogee 10 ). For better or worse, contemporary Brazilian architecture derives as much from the Carioca than from the Paulista trends, and perhaps, even more from the second than from the first. Paradoxically enough, although the Pauista Brutalist architecture clearly proposed a remarkable change, and a perhaps necessary renovation of Brazilian architectural panorama, its main protagonists chose, during the first decades of its consolidation and expansion, to omit their own evident dissatisfaction with its predecessors and to state their full political alliance with them a dangerous mixture of architectural and political discourses that were fully complicated by the negative impacts of the military dictatorship affecting Brazil after 1964. Even if their works were in fact, although covertly, questioning the previous Brazilian Modernity achievements, they do not feel at easy to state that, perhaps fearing one of the consequences of their independence, meaning, the breaking apart of a Brazilian Modern architecture identity (as a fixed trope defined and congealed with the help of inside and abroad narratives); specially in a moment (1960-70s) when it seemed necessary to be professionally united to confront the adverse political situation. The fact that such an internal disciplinary crisis coincided in time with such a bad political moment was a burden from which we have not yet completely recovered. After half a century, and in the absence of the hostile political situation of that moment, the maintenance of a discourse holding an univocal national identity of Brazilian Modern architecture strongly marked Brazilian architecture and architects, but is neither satisfactory nor acceptable anymore, although it keeps on being a very prevalent position in the internal debates never as a clear statement, mostly
The majority of them still in use and proposing several debates on its maintenance and sometimes, its transformation a situation in which their status as a high quality Modern Heritage must be assured in order to enhance their usefulness and preservation. 10 In due time - after the 1980s the Paulista School would also furnish a common basis against which several other confronting tendencies set aside in order to grow up.

as a pervasive assumption, and so far, very hard to counterpoint. And it keeps impeding the understanding about what happened after Brasilia: there is no problem in answering this inquiry, except that the problem is the question, or better, the ground it stands upon. As it shows on the commentaries above, the issue of the Brutalism, its status in the international panorama and inside Modern Brazilian architecture is a complex subject with several sub issues that needs a whole book, or more, to be carefully and more thoroughly analyzed 11 . The intention of this paper is not to give a full account about that, but just to call attention to several interesting points around it. As a conclusion, it is worth mentioning some of the Paulista Brutalist best works and authors, just as a short notice 12 . From around 1957 on, the Paulista Brutalism contributed to Brazilian architecture with several important works. In the early 1950s the architects Joo Batista Vilanova Artigas (1915-1984) and Carlos Cascaldi gradually begin to use exposed concrete structures, such as the Morumbi Stadium (1952), in So Paulo, or the Olga Baeta residence (1956), also in So Paulo. Just as Artigas, other mature architects of that moment started to adopt the brutalist language in their works, from the late 1950s onward: as did the architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), when designing MASP- Museu de Arte de So Paulo (1958/1961); Fabio Penteado (n.1928) in the headquarters of the Harmonia Club (1964); Carlos Barjas Millan (1927-1964) in the Roberto Millan residence (1960); Telsforo Cristfani (19292003), in the Fasano Vertical Restaurant (1964) and Hans Broos (n.1921), in the Saint Bonifaces Parish Center (1965). A new generation of newly graduated architects starts a career contributing to the consolidation of the Paulista face of the brutalist trend in the end of the 1950s.. Names as Paulo Mendes da Rocha (n.1928), in the Paulistano Club (1958); Joaquim Guedes (1932-2008), in the Cunha Lima residence (1959); Francisco Petracco (n.1935) and Pedro Paulo de Mello Saraiva (n.1933) in the Clube XV in Santos (1963); Paulo Bastos (n.1936), in the So Paulo Military Headquarters (1965); PPMS with Sami Bussab (n.1939) and Miguel Juliano e Silva, with the Ballroom of the Syria-Lebanon Club (1966); Ruy Othake (n.1938) in Tomie Ohtakes house (1966) and in the Central Telefnica Campos do Jordo (1973); Joo Walter Toscano (n.1933), in the Health Resort in guas de Prata-SP (1969); among many others. The quality and importance of these works in them and as the representatives of an other Brazilian Modern architectural trend has not yet been properly acknowledge. Among other causes, the subsequent discredit against the so-called tardo-modernism architecture raised an interdiction that only from now on can be rendered more ineffective.

11 12

See Zein & Bastos (2009, in print). Illustrations and/or more Information about these and other examples of the Paulista Brutalist works of 1953-1973 period can be found at the authors research site:

REFERENCES BANHAM, Reyner. New Brutalism, ethic or aesthetic? Sttutgart: Karl Kramer Verlag. COMAS, Carlos Eduardo Dais. Uma certa arquitetura moderna brasiliera; experincia a re-conhecer [in] Arquitetura Revista FAU-UFRJ, n5, 1987, p.2235.Bruand (1981) COMAS, Carlos Eduardo Dias. 2002. Precises Brasileiras. Sobre um estado passado da arquitetura e urbanismo modernos. Doctoral Thesis, Universit de Paris VII, Vincennes Saint-Denis. CURTIS, William. 1996. Modern Architecture since 1900. London: Phaidon. GOLDHAGEN, Sarah Williams; LEGAULT, Rjean (ed). 2002. Anxious modernisms. Experimentation in postwar architectural culture. Quebec: Canadian Centre for Architecture / Massaschusetts Institute of Technology. MACCELLEAND, Michael; STEWART, Graeme (ed). 2007. Concrete Toronto. A guidebook to concrete architecture from the fifties to the seventies. Toronto: Coach House Books and E.R.A. Architects. SEGAWA, Hugo. 1997. Arquiteturas no Brasil 1900-1990. So Paulo: Edusp. ZEIN, Ruth Verde; BASTOS, Maria Alice Junqueira. 2009 (in press). Brasil:Architectures in the second half of the 20th century. Son Paulo: Editora Perspectiva. ZEIN, Ruth Verde; LIMA, Ana Gabriela Godinho. What do we know about Brasilia? Misleading and prejudices in canonical books. Paper presented to the V International Docomomo Seminar, Brasilia, 2000 ZEIN, Ruth Verde. 2000 Arquitetura Brasileira, Escola Paulista e as casas de Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Dissertao de Mestrado, Porto Alegre: PROPAR-UFRGS. ZEIN, Ruth Verde. 2005. A arquitetura da Escola Paulista Brutalista 1953-1973. Doctoral Thesis. Porto Alegre: PROPAR-UFRGS.