Paulo Mendes da Rocha (a+u 615)
Architecture & Urbanism, 2022
This December issue of a+u is dedicated to Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, who passed away in May. Born in Vitória, Brazil, in 1928, Mendes da Rocha played a central role in the making of a Brazilian modernism, the Paulista School in particular, through a distinct and powerful use of concrete. Brazilian Museum of Sculpture has the openness of the “artificial landscape” that “ripples out toward the rest of the city” and “aspires to welcome ways of experiencing urban spaces that do not and cannot take place in the city,” as described in an essay by Daniele Pisani. Brazil Pavilion at Osaka Expo ’70 in Japan is remarkable for how seamlessly this creation by an architect from the opposite point of the globe blended with the architectural culture of its host country, sharing a deep appreciation for engineering, in concert with abiding respect for nature. In his public buildings we discover something more than materiality, a profound ethic toward users and inhabitants. A new landscape and horizon emerge underneath its monumental superstructure. Together with new explanatory texts by José Paulo Gouvêa, 6 significant projects outlining Mendes da Rocha’s contributions to public space are featured here alongside snapshots of his home and office, as well as whimsical sketches and drawings. The issue is richly illustrated with newly conserved and digitalized drawings of the Mendes da Rocha Archive now housed at the Casa da Arquitectura in Porto, Portugal.