aml

random thoughts on architecture history theory and criticism

Lina in Bahia, Bahia in Ibirapuera

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It’s SAH time! Looking forward so much to the annual archinerd reunion, particularly since this time it’s in California. I’ll be presenting some new material about Lina Bo Bardi and Martim Gonçalves’ exhibition “Bahia no Ibirapuera” in the session That Which Does Not Last: Ephemeral Architecture After Modernism. There are a few papers on Bo Bardi in this SAH iteration, but only mine will break your heart.

Filed under: bo bardi, brazil, cv, italy, participation, politics

las mujeres y el campo expandido de la arquitectura

gracias a la invitación de Pedro “La Periferia” Hernández, he publicado un pequeño artículo en Arquine titulado “Las Mujeres y el Campo Expandido de la Arquitectura.” el artículo argumenta que a fin de sortear las dificultades de la práctica, muchas mujeres encontraron maneras alternativas de practicar la disciplina, y al hacerlo expandieron el campo de la arquitectura. El artículo es parte de un diálogo que Arquine busca realizar en torno al tema–pueden ver los otros artículos aquí.

Filed under: bo bardi, cv, feminism, rant, scott-brown, waisman

i heart concrete

this recent post by bustler on the housing tower at kripalu center for yoga by peter rose + partners elicited an old familiar reaction—ohhh pretty concrete! recently, discussions on the relocation of the whitney museum from its original building by marcel breuer and negative reactions to the ohio historical center by ireland and associates have kept the topic of concrete animosity in the news [i’m particularly fond of breuer, having helped in the efforts toward conservation of his grosse point library, one of his non-concrete buildings]. but as an architect raised by concrete-loving, unapologetic modernists, i can’t help myself [and why should i?]: i love concrete [coincidentally, recent post here on lovability or lack thereof of brutalist buildings and their preservation chances].

perhaps it’s the fact that i went to several all-concrete architecture schools—starting with my alma mater in gye [sorry the pic is so blurry!]: picture a fallingwater-type composition layered on the side of a tropical hillside but made by a poor man’s tadao ando [i love the building but economic conditions did not allow for a good clean finish]. the architects if i remember correctly were bravo & robalino, both still teachers at ucsg. in any case, animosity against concrete always confuses me. why the hate, when there’s so much to love?

so without further comments, some concrete porn for all kindred souls who also salivate a little at the sight of some good concrete…

poetic: tadao ando at vitra factory in weil am rheim

unexpected: frank lloyd wright’s guggenheim during renovation in 2007

rough: paul rudolph’s government service center in boston

… and soft: rudolph’s government service center stairs

sculptural: column at st. mary’s cathedral, sfo, by pier luigi nervi and others.

infrastructural: underspass in sfo periphery

whimsical: casa del puente, by amancio williams, in mar del plata

floating: carlo scarpa, tomba brion at san vito d’altivole

mythical: carlo scarpa, iuav gate at venice

… and underneath that roof: faites l’archi, pas la guerre!

ps. plug for my pals from heroic: boston concrete

pps. i cannot resist giving you one more:

surreal: sesc fabrica da pompeia by lina bo

Filed under: ., bo bardi, brutalism, scarpa, wright,

women architects: f’ing cool

denise and other monuments

the new york review of books recently published this article titled “the world’s foremost female architect,” giving it up for denise scott-brown. my first reaction was that selecting “the world’s foremost” seems like a particularly [excuse my political incorrectness] male thing to do. i mean, do we really need a foremost female architect? because being the leader necessarily means being lonely there at the top, and as a woman architect myself, the experience of ‘lone woman in the office,’ while dealable, is not something that i would call pleasurable. let me be clear. while i’ve often enough been the sole women at the office, or at the studio, or at the class, or at the faculty meeting, i’ve been lucky to have had fantastic male colleagues [well, most of them] that have minimized any friction that might come from a ‘gender unbalanced’ environment. in fact, i long ago decided that this would not be a problem, and it largely hasn’t [ok, there was that creepy guy that liked to stand by my desk and watch me work, but we won’t go there]. and i should add i’m delighted that many younger generations have not had this lonely experience [actually lonelier when working in the us than back in ecuador].

source: http://designmuseum.org/design/alison-peter-smithsoncharles and ray eames

so back to the article above. part of the problem with female architect role models, is that there are really very few of them that ‘fit’ a perfect ‘role model’ mold. denise is part of a husband-and-wife team, as were alison smithson [although, note the dark overtones of the photograph, with her literally in the blurry background] and ray eames [a fun image, i’ve always thought, but part of its humor coming from the observer being amused at the fact that she is driving]. more recent examples of such partnerships include diana agrest of agrest and gandelsonas, billie tsien of willians and tsien, sarah whiting of ww architecture, and monica ponce de leon of office dA. although all these partnerships work in different ways, they have managed to keep their respective offices working successfully.

interesting anomalies in these examples are the recent split of farshid moussavi and alejandro zaera polo, of foa architects, and the changing partners and office of enric miralles, carme pinos (her studio here) and benedetta tagliabue (who decided to keep his name in the office).

these women are all fantastic examples of accomplishment, yet we are left wondering, what would have happened if they had been on their own? would certain clients have been less than willing to hire? (in this sense, pinos and tagliabue make interesting examples) why do we seem to thrive more easily in an academic environment? is it possible for a woman to make it on her own, as an architect?

this is probably the reason so many flock to zaha hadid as feminist role model. but, lest we forget, zaha does have a partner in the office, patrick schumacher. and what about sanaa? kazujo sejima has ryue nishizawa. actually, is there any ‘big’ architecture office out there, with a sole woman partner?

but this is the wrong question to ask, because it uses the same logic of the ‘foremost.’ in fact, most architects work as partners, male or female- design is a process enriched by discussion. and i love discussion: i love talking about architecture, and although i can happily spend a night designing [or more recently, writing and researching] on my own, i love coming out for air and discussing my work, or someone else’s work. so perhaps we should stop looking for the foremost and think more about the great role women architects have in these partnerships. let’s stop looking for the one example and focus on the many.

there are of course, the forerunners. eileen gray (1878-1976), margarete schutte-lihotzky (1897-2000!), charlotte perriand (1903-1999) and lina bo bardi (1914-1992) are early examples of women architects (and by the way, move over oscar niemeyer, 103 years old, props margarete!) that not only managed to work on their own [sometimes], but made no excuses about their interest in designing a kick-ass kitchen or incorporating some very handy domestic gizmos into the home [nudge, nudge, wink wink].

so, what can eileen, margarete, charlotte, and lina teach us? be sure to get credit for your work [i’m talking about you, old editions of k. frampton’s modern architecture with your incomplete, yet recently corrected, credit on the kitchen]. don’t let your old boss take over your beach house at cap martin. don’t let the pritzker forget about you. but also, relax. let’s stop apologizing for having partners, if we want them. let’s chat more: conversation is good between partners, it should also help us as professionals. yes, it’s satisfying to denounce nasty old men’s misogynistic ways, but perhaps we need more information about the cool women that were able to work things out. because we are cool, too. f’ing cool.

ps. don’t let the pritzker forget about DSB!

Filed under: ., bo bardi, feminism, gray, perriand, rant, schutte-lihotzky, scott-brown,

brutalist and tall

sesc pompeia by lina bo bardi

angiolo mazzoni’s work, via owen hatherley’s latest post, just reminded me of lina bo bardi’s sesc-pompéia factory in são paulo.  it should be no coincidence since both grew up in italy. while mazzoni got his commissions through his connections to the fascist party, bo was involved with the italian communist party. twenty years younger than mazzoni [b. 1894], bo [b. 1914] must have grown up with mazzoni’s railways, built mostly between 1920 and 1940 as part of the fascist regime’s public works campaign.  perry anderson [via another hatherley italian-themed post] has discussed the italian tradition of longing for a classical antiquity, and understanding culture as a passport to power.  these ideas would actually approximate the pci to the right.  appropriately, the sesc pompeia project was designed and executed during brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985.  bo is not the first european architect from the left working in latin american under extreme right dictatorships, although sesc is a private institution managed by the confederação nacional do comércio.

Filed under: ., bo bardi, brutalism, italy, mazzoni, politics, ww2,

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