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São Paulo Practices Evince Talent, Ambition

Event: New Practices São Paulo: Brazil in New York
Location: Center for Architecture, 07.15.11
Introduction: Rick Bell, FAIA
Speakers: Martin Corullon — Metro Arquitetos Associados; Carlos M. Teixeira — Vazio S/A Arquitetura e Urbanismo; Carolina Bueno — Triptyque Arquitetura; Luís Pompeo — 23 Sul; Yuri Vital — Yuri Vital Architect; Paula Sertório — PAX.ARQ; Rafael Brych — Arkiz
Moderators: Toshiko Mori, FAIA — Toshiko Mori Architect, New Practices New York Lead Juror; José Armenio de Brito Cruz — São Paolo Juror
Organizers: Center for Architecture; AIA New York Chapter; Instituto de Arquitetos do Brasil Departamento de São Paulo
Sponsors: Benefactor: FLATCUT_; Lead Sponsors: Dornbracht; MG & Company Construction Managers/General Contractors; Valiant Technology; Sponsors: Espasso; Häfele; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; Friend: Benjamin Moore; Media Sponsor: The Architect’s Newspaper; Communication Sponsor: Consulate General of Brazil in New York

23 Graus Sul Aquitetura designed one of the winning entries.

23 Graus Sul Aquitetura

As Brazil grows into a burgeoning international power, with all of the intense scrutiny accompanying that position, the nation’s young architects are negotiating their time in the spotlight. While São Paulo captures less of the public’s attention than its sister city, Rio de Janeiro, it is no less important a player in the architectural development of Brazil. Indeed, many of the design firms participating in the New Practices São Paulo exhibition are hard at work on highly public projects for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

A central theme of the panel discussion was the impact of Brazilian architectural history and construction tradition on the work of contemporary practitioners. Martin Corullon, of Metro Arquitetos Associados, reminded the audience that, as a result of autocratic rule, Brazil remained closed to new architectural ideas and technologies for decades. Generations of designers accepted cast-in-place concrete as a material norm, and worshiped at the altar of Oscar Niemeyer, Joaquim Guedes, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and other strict Modernists. Carolina Bueno admitted that she and her partners at Triptyque Arquiteture feel fortunate to draw from that strong tradition, but are also wary of history creating an obstacle to forward progress.

The tension between digital and analog technologies, and their varying roles in the creation of buildings, were primary concerns of the panelists. Corullon embraces a tradition grounded in structure. Conversely, Paula Sertório and PAZ.ARQ view digital technology as a partner in the design process.

The vast majority of the panelists presented work set in an urban context. Whether for rich or poor clientele, the projects contributed to the civic development of São Paulo, which Rafael Brych of Arkiz described as a rich, diverse, and multicultural city. For instance, Yuri Vital’s GRU Chapel is intended to service the spiritual needs of Guarulhos, an impoverished neighborhood of São Paulo. In response to a competition brief for low-income housing, Luis Pompeo and his fellows at 23 Sul submitted an entry in which new civic structures, not residences, were the focus of the design. 23 Sul intended for denizens to use the city itself as their home, thereby actively promoting neighborhood engagement and unity. Finally, Carlos Teixeira, of Vazio S/A Arquitetura e Urbanismo, crafted a community center that employed a wall with integrated training equipment so that local residents could exercise outdoors.

José Armenio de Brito Cruz stated that only now, as Brazil’s democracy matures, have designers started to look to the future. If the New Practices São Paulo firms accurately encapsulate the ambitions of young Brazilian architects, then the future looks very bright, indeed.