Modernity and Continuity: Alternatives to Instant Tradition in Contemporary Brazilian Architecture

By Karen Paiva Henrique.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

At the end of the 1970s, Critical Regionalism questioned the homogenization of architecture brought by modernism. The movement claimed a necessity for the mediation between ‘universal civilization’ and ‘local culture’, establishing the possibility for a meaningful yet progressive architecture to take form. In the face of a visible standardization of architecture throughout the globe, as portrayed by the reckless replication of design solutions disregarding local environmental and social conditions, the idea of Critical Regionalism seems relevant. However, the critical part of this discourse must be reframed in order to release the ‘local’ from its aesthetic form, establishing new possibilities for architecture to address its context in innovative ways. This paper examines examples of both purely aesthetic regionalism and creative solutions for addressing local issues. The study focuses on both past and contemporary Brazilian architectural solutions. Brazil currently faces a continuous increase in its construction market, but it is in past solutions that the most creative locally inspired architecture can be found. Through the examination of such examples, the paper will explore both the problems and potentials of a critical and regionalist Brazilian architecture.

Keywords: Critical Regionalism, Standardization, Contemporary Brazilian Architecture

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.103-112. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.436MB).

Karen Paiva Henrique

Graduate Student - Masters in Architecture, Department of Architecture, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, USA

Karen Paiva Henrique is an architect and urbanist, currently pursuing her Master of Architecture at Penn State University. Karen received a degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. She continued her studies in the Post-Graduate Program in Urban Design at the Bauhaus Kolleg, Germany, where she explored aspects of local culture and globalization in the architecture of modernist states, developing research in Singapore and Scotland. Karen’s present research focuses on the potential of flexible systems in architecture and urban design for transient environments, looking specifically at the context of flood-prone zones.