João Batista Vilanova Artigas (1915–85) played a fundamental role in the development of the architectural profession in mid-twentieth-century São Paulo, a flourishing economic and industrial center that during this same period surpassed Rio de Janeiro to become Brazil's largest metropolis. A graduate of the University of São Paulo's Escola Politécnica, or Polytechnic School, Artigas served as a professor at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo (Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo, or FAU-USP) from the time of its founding. Beginning in the 1950s, Artigas experimented with exposed concrete construction to explore new structural solutions, and his innovative architectural work opened up many new directions, especially for a group of Brazilian architects known as the Escola Paulista, or the Paulista School.

Artigas's work combined great spatial flexibility with structural precision. His project for the FAU-USP Building (1961–69), created in collaboration with Carlos Cascaldi, drew on Artigas's knowledge and experience as an engineer-architect and represented the physical embodiment of major educational reforms under discussion in Brazil in the 1960s. Today the building's capacity to foster social exchange reminds us how architecture can promote democratic values through its material form.

An Evolving Educational Program

The University of São Paulo was founded in 1934 with the incorporation of several independent institutions, including the Faculty of Law (1827), the Polytechnic School (1893), the Faculty of Pharmacy and Dentistry (1898), the School of Agriculture (1901), and the Faculty of Medicine (1912). Claude Lévi-Strauss numbered among the first professors of the newly created Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences, and Languages.

Although the official founding of the architecture school dated to 1948, the Polytechnic School offered courses for engineer-architects as early as 1894.1 The school's founder, Francisco de Paula Souza (1843–1917), a civil engineer and graduate of the Karlsruhe Polytechnic, adopted a curriculum with a three-year foundational course followed by three-year specialization programs based on the German model.2 Students pursued specialized courses of study in such fields as agronomy, civil engineering, and architecture.

Francisco de Paula Ramos de Azevedo (1851–1928), an engineer-architect and graduate of Ghent University in Belgium, not only directed the teaching of architecture at the Escola Politécnica but also designed and built most of the major public buildings in São Paulo during this period.3 Following the appointment of Ramos de Azevedo as dean in 1917, the school began to hire former students to teach architecture courses; among them was Luiz Ignácio de Anhaia Mello (1891–1974), one of the future founders of FAU-USP.4

Artigas studied under Anhaia Mello at the Polytechnic School, graduating in 1937, and in 1940 he in turn was invited to teach there. During this time, plans to grant the architecture course at the school more autonomy coincided with new discussions about the creation of an architecture school independent of both engineering and Beaux-Arts models.5 In Rio de Janeiro, the establishment of the National Faculty of Architecture in 1945 marked the founding of the first of several architecture schools in Brazil during these years.6 In 1946 the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awarded Artigas a Latin American Fellowship to study modern American architecture.7 From September 1946 to November 1947, he traveled extensively throughout the United States in the company of his wife, Virginia Camargo.8 He visited a number of academic institutions associated with the architectural vanguard, spending two months as “guest of the institute” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also touring Columbia University, Black Mountain College, and Florida Southern College.9

At the same time, plans for a new school of architecture at the University of São Paulo moved ahead following the donation of Vila Penteado, a lavish 1902 art nouveau villa designed by Swedish architect Carlos Ekman (1866–1940) for industrialist Antônio Álvares Penteado. FAU-USP was officially established at Vila Penteado in 1948. With Anhaia Mello as dean and the former Polytechnic School professors and assistants (including Artigas) as faculty, FAU-USP began to develop an expanded curriculum that drew on both architecture and the visual arts.10 During the next decade the architecture school also recruited graduates from the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences, and Languages.11 FAU-USP, as Paulo Mendes da Rocha observed in a 2008 interview, was “a model product of the university,” bridging the “knowledge produced on a theoretical level by the Faculty of Philosophy and, on a technical level, by the Polytechnic School.”12

Despite Vila Penteado's convenient location in the central neighborhood of Higienópolis, construction of a new university campus at Butantã, on the western fringe of São Paulo, beginning in 1950 made another move inevitable.13 Meanwhile, changes to the curriculum continued to be discussed. In 1957 a new sequence was proposed for the existing courses, and in 1962, courses grouped around departments (design, history of architecture, technology) replaced the traditional chair positions.14 The 1962 reform also integrated the fields of industrial design and visual communication into the architecture and planning curriculum. For Artigas, who participated in both initiatives, the addition of these fields resulted in “a broader vision of architecture.”15

By 1962, Artigas was already developing a design for the new FAU-USP Building at the Butantã campus. The first set of drawings at the FAU-USP library dates from 1961, although Artigas perhaps began work as early as 1960.16 The new architecture school building was part of an ambitious plan proposed by the government of the state of São Paulo, which envisioned the construction of almost a thousand projects across two hundred cities from 1959 through 1963.17 At the University of São Paulo, Artigas's design formed part of a linear arrangement of schools known as the Corredor das Humanas (Corridor of the Humanities), designed by a group of architects who came to be associated with the Paulista School.18 (Later in this essay, I discuss the importance of this group for the historiography of modern Brazilian architecture.)

The Paulista School: A Tale of Two Cities

In Storia dell'architettura moderna (1975), Leonardo Benevolo argued that modern Brazilian architecture gained critical momentum with the completion of the Ministry of Education and Health Building (1936–43) in Rio de Janeiro (Figure 1).19 He observed that the first “modern” house in Brazil was built in São Paulo by Gregori Warchavchik in 1928.20 Yet Benevolo also argued that firms based in Rio de Janeiro dominated the period between the design for the Ministry of Education and Health and the design for the new capital of Brasília, both led by Lucio Costa (1902–98).21 Other key practices, according to Benevolo, were those of Oscar Niemeyer (1907–2012), Affonso Eduardo Reidy (1909–64), Marcelo Roberto (1908–64), Attilio Corrêa Lima (1901–43), and Roberto Burle Marx (1909–94)—all graduates of the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Rio.22 Benevolo mentioned just two São Paulo architects, and then only briefly: Rino Levi (1901–65) and Giancarlo Palanti (1906–77).23 Benevolo affirmed that Brasília could be considered not only the culminating point of modern Brazilian architecture but also the “closing of a chapter,” given the subsequent military coup of 1964 and the collapse of the democratic state.24 Other studies of the history of modern architecture reduced the scope of Brazilian works even further: Manfredo Tafuri and Francesco Dal Co's Modern Architecture (1979) mentioned only the work of Costa, Niemeyer, and Reidy, and Sigfried Giedion's Space, Time and Architecture (1967) included nothing in Brazil except Costa's Three Powers Plaza in Brasília.25

Figure 1

Lucio Costa, Carlos Leão, Jorge Machado Moreira, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, and Ernani Vasconcelos, with Le Corbusier as consultant, Ministry of Education and Health Building (now Gustavo Capanema Palace), Rio de Janeiro, 1936–43, north façade and pilotis (photo by Leonardo Finotti).

Figure 1

Lucio Costa, Carlos Leão, Jorge Machado Moreira, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, and Ernani Vasconcelos, with Le Corbusier as consultant, Ministry of Education and Health Building (now Gustavo Capanema Palace), Rio de Janeiro, 1936–43, north façade and pilotis (photo by Leonardo Finotti).

In contrast to these studies, Henry-Russell Hitchcock's 1955 exhibition catalogue Latin American Architecture since 1945 provided a deeper analysis of Brazil's architectural production.26 Created to accompany a major show of the same title at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Hitchcock's book came just over a decade after the first MoMA survey of Latin American architecture, Brazil Builds, organized by Philip L. Goodwin.27 Beyond well-known designs like Niemeyer's Canoas House (1951–54), Costa's Parque Guinle Apartments (1948–54), and Reidy's Pedregulho Housing (1947–50), Hitchcock included works by other important Rio de Janeiro architects, such as Jorge Machado Moreira (1904–92) and Sergio Bernardes (1919–2002). He also incorporated the works of major São Paulo designers, including designs by Rino Levi, a residence by Oswaldo Arthur Bratke (1907–97), and a public swimming pool by Icaro de Castro Mello (1913–86).

It was Hitchcock's introductory text, however, that made the most critical contribution to the study of Brazilian architecture. Instead of conceiving of modern Brazilian architecture in unitary terms, Hitchcock identified the “Carioca School” (Costa, Reidy, Moreira, Niemeyer) associated with Rio on the one hand and, on the other, the “Paulista architecture” of São Paulo, which he described as “less specifically Brazilian in flavor than that of Rio, more sober in design and in color.”28 Hitchcock also pointed to the influence of architects such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, rather than Le Corbusier, on São Paulo architects like Bratke.29

Henrique E. Mindlin (1911–71), a São Paulo–trained architect based in Rio de Janeiro and one of the architects included in Hitchcock's book, produced the most comprehensive survey of modern Brazilian architecture (before Brasília) in his 1956 book Modern Architecture in Brazil. This study featured the work of two designers who later became leading architectural figures in São Paulo: Lina Bo Bardi (1914–92) and João Vilanova Artigas (1915–85). Both of these architects built their own residences during the same period: Bo Bardi's Glass House (1949–51) and the Vilanova Artigas House (1949–50) (Figure 2).30 While these two houses shared some elements of the Carioca School, including pilotis and glazed façades, unlike buildings in Rio they offered no brise-soleil or sun protection in the form of wooden lattices or screen blocks. The absence of these typically colorful elements rendered the exteriors of both houses somewhat neutral—in line with Hitchcock's remarks about São Paulo architecture—although color still played a significant role. Artigas's residence featured a dark-red wall and blue columns, while the Glass House boasted green wooden shutters on the windows facing into the courtyard and red roof scuppers.

Figure 2

João Vilanova Artigas, Vilanova Artigas House, São Paulo, 1949–50, front façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 2

João Vilanova Artigas, Vilanova Artigas House, São Paulo, 1949–50, front façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Foregrounding Public Spaces in the Private Home

Both the Glass House and the Artigas House privileged living areas in their designs, anticipating the residential layouts designed in the 1960s by other architects associated with the Paulista School. In the Glass House, Lina Bo Bardi reserved more than 200 square meters (about 2,150 square feet) for her living and dining rooms, while the living spaces of the more compact Artigas House occupied half of the building's footprint.31 The São Paulo residence that Ruy Ohtake (b. 1938) built for his mother, the abstract painter Tomie Ohtake, from 1966 to 1968 represented perhaps the most extreme example, with two diminutive bedrooms of 4.4 square meters (47 square feet) each—“drawer-like bedrooms” in the architect's words—opening into a much larger living room and atelier of 196 square meters (2,110 square feet).32 Perhaps the design of the living room as a “public” space for social interactions compensated for the lack of civic areas where people could congregate and—in unfavorable political conditions—speak freely during these years in Brazil.

New structural conceptions emerging in the 1950s facilitated the creation of large open spaces. Artigas sought to consolidate all domestic functions under the same roof while reducing the total number of columns. For example, the Olga Baeta House (1956–57) had only six supports.33 Soon after, Joaquim Guedes (1932–2008) reduced the supports to four in the Antônio Cunha Lima House, built in São Paulo in 1958–63.34 Situated on a steep lot, the four-level dwelling featured an expressive treelike structure, with four concrete columns at the core of the rectangular plan and diagonal braces supporting the spans. Guedes, Artigas's former student at FAU-USP, left the house's concrete structure entirely exposed. Artigas also left his concrete façade wall at the Baeta House exposed to reveal the formwork imprints (Figure 3).

Figure 3

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, Olga Baeta House, São Paulo, 1956–57, front façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 3

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, Olga Baeta House, São Paulo, 1956–57, front façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

The volume raised on four columns with an exposed concrete frame became the house typology of the Paulista School.35 Carlos Barjas Millan (1927–64)—with whom Guedes shared an office from 1955 to 1959—developed the parti of the Cunha Lima House at the Antônio D'Elboux House (1962–64), also sited on a steep slope.36 Here a smaller program and reduced floor area allowed Millan to simplify the structure further and eliminate bracing.37 While the four pilotis were integrated with the perimeter masonry on the upper stories, Millan emphasized the frame by interrupting the outside stucco to reveal the concrete slabs.38 Paulo Mendes da Rocha (b. 1928), Millan's contemporary at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University School of Architecture in São Paulo, reduced the design for his own residence to a single floor raised on pilotis, with parking and service area below.39 For this structure, later known as the Butantã House (1964–66), concrete functioned as both structural frame and partition walls, with a folded roof slab enclosing two sides of the plan.40 If Mendes da Rocha's design blurred the distinction between structural and nonstructural elements, it also blurred the distinction between private and public: the bedrooms, all in a row set in the middle of the house, opened directly into the living room as well as onto a veranda (both along glazed façades). Artigas's design for the FAU-USP Building shared key characteristics with the Butantã House, including its interpenetrating spaces and rigorous structural modularity.

Although Artigas did not adopt the pilotis house typology, he also used the four-column concept for a series of designs. First, at the José Bittencourt House (1959–62) he built two parallel concrete walls to support the floors, tapering to touch the ground at four points.41 Then at the Ivo Viterito House (1962–64) he rested the concrete ceiling on four pillars with neoprene joints detailed by a bridge engineer, an innovative solution to the problem of movement caused by temperature variation.42 Finally, at the Elza Berquó House (1965–68), four tree trunks provided natural supports for an interior concrete ceiling.43

In his designs for single-family homes, Mendes da Rocha also sought to explore collective urban housing solutions.44 The Butantã House, for example, could be reimagined as a unit in an apartment building.45 He successfully repeated the scheme twenty-five years later, prefabricating the entire concrete frame of the Antônio Gerassi House (1989–91) and assembling it in just three days.46 In designing a house, Mendes da Rocha was thus ultimately also thinking about the city, and Artigas had similar concerns: he shared Leon Battista Alberti's belief that cities are like houses, and houses are like cities.47 Maybe for this reason Artigas set the living areas of his houses directly on the ground, avoiding solutions on pilotis—in this way, these dwellings more directly represented extensions of the city.

In the Ivo Viterito House, for example, Artigas broke with tradition in São Paulo by dispensing with the typical front fence. He justified this choice by arguing that the small lot in a densely built neighborhood appeared larger without the fence, and at the same time the lack of a fence suggested a closer connection between the house and the surrounding city. Artigas then turned the living area and the bedrooms toward the rear, using the two roof girders to block out the “messy” views of the neighbors on either side from the interior.48

The FAU-USP Building's openness to the city thus recalled the houses Artigas designed in the 1960s, as a building without a front door that nevertheless, given its inward focus onto a central space, afforded its occupants a sense of isolation. The Bittencourt House featured a central patio as well, while an internal garden illuminated by a retractable skylight served as a focal point at the Berquó House.

Rino Levi's work also offered important models for Artigas, including his designs for houses with interior gardens, such as those built for Milton Guper (1951–53) and Castor Delgado Perez (1958–59).49 Born in São Paulo, Levi studied architecture in Milan and Rome, and returned to Brazil after graduating in 1926.50 The 1943 Brazil Builds exhibition featured his celebrated design for a girls’ school in São Paulo, the Sedes Sapientiae Institute (1940–42).51 Artigas was very familiar with Levi and his work: he lived in an apartment building designed by Levi in downtown São Paulo, and in 1944 he designed a house for Levi's brother, Benedito.52 In 1957, Artigas served as Levi's assistant at FAU-USP, and in 1959, when Levi took leave to teach at the Central University of Venezuela, Artigas stepped in for him at FAU-USP. After Levi quit his academic post because of his professional obligations, Artigas was promoted to professor at FAU-USP, where he taught the fifth-year design studio.53

Bossa Nova: Linking the Carioca and Paulista Schools

As noted earlier, Artigas trained as both an engineer and an architect. After graduating from the Polytechnic School in 1937, he worked from January to November 1938 in the São Paulo Department of Public Works.54 During this time, he met Gregori Warchavchik, the pioneer of modern Brazilian architecture, and assisted him in preparing an entry for a design competition for the São Paulo City Hall in 1939. Their submission took second place, and, according to Artigas, this propelled him to the teaching position he attained at the Polytechnic School in 1940.55

Artigas then formed a partnership with engineer Duílio Marone that continued until 1944. According to historian Rosa Artigas, the architect's daughter, of the fifty-two houses that Artigas and Marone built in São Paulo, “most … had no formal connection with the vanguard in architecture.”56 In 1942, however, Artigas designed a weekend house for his family inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie House designs. Known as Casinha (Little House), it featured a hearth at its core with other spaces organized continuously around the perimeter. Two years later, the house for Benedito Levi exhibited a more “Corbusian” language, with a pronounced upper volume supported by walls and two isolated columns.

Artigas soon adopted a different approach in the Louveira Building in São Paulo (1946–49) (Figure 4).57 Here each of two parallel apartment towers featured a central strip of glass corresponding to the living rooms, flanked by bedroom wings that featured bright-red panels. Artigas added more color by mounting bright-yellow shutters above the red panels and using pale-blue mosaic tiles to finish the concrete slabs. A leafy garden between the towers, separated from the street by only a low fence, revealed Artigas's sensitivity to the future needs of a dense urban setting.58 Pilotis supported the first tower at the street corner. A stair crossed diagonally to access the raised entry hall. From there a graceful curved ramp led across the garden to the second tower, ingeniously separating the garden from a parking area. Of the buildings designed by Artigas, the Louveira revealed the closest links to “Carioca” architecture. But as attested by the design of the façades, the complex also demonstrated the rigorous structural modularity that critically shaped the architecture of the Paulista School. This rigor coincided with Artigas's training at the Polytechnic School; for example, he worked as an intern with Oswaldo Bratke, an architect whose 1950s house designs emphasized the clarity of their structural grids.59

Figure 4

João Vilanova Artigas, Louveira Building, São Paulo, 1946–49, street entrance (author's photo, 2019).

Figure 4

João Vilanova Artigas, Louveira Building, São Paulo, 1946–49, street entrance (author's photo, 2019).

While architectural historians might argue that Artigas went through “Wrightian,” “Corbusian,” or “Brutalist” phases during his career, the coherence of his oeuvre defies such categorization. Thus, the spatial continuity of the Wrightian Casinha, the openness of the Corbusian Louveira Building to the city, and the central patio of the Brutalist Bittencourt House converged in Artigas's design for the FAU-USP Building. Yet the historiography of modern Brazilian architecture emphasizes that Artigas's mature work coincided with the rise of Brutalism: Bruno Alfieri, editor of Zodiac magazine, underscored this connection as early as 1960.60 Of Artigas's works at that time, only the Baeta House and the Morumbi Stadium (1952–60), a soccer arena still under construction, featured exposed concrete surfaces.61 Alfieri also published Artigas's design for the Rubens de Mendonça House (1958–59), with its plan organized around a central void, and his project for the Itanhaém School (1959–61).62 For Alfieri, the sequence of inner spaces was the principal characteristic of the Mendonça House, offering infinite viewpoints and highlighting “the material's nudity.” As he wrote, “The façade, a protruding parallelepiped, truly becomes a manifesto of the brute architecture.”63 Curiously, the Mendonça House featured no unfinished surfaces; it had parquet floors and smooth walls and ceilings painted white. A white-and-blue mural on the front façade echoed the shape of the house's red-and-blue triangular columns.64 Artigas did not use exposed concrete as a surface for interiors until he completed the Viterito House in 1964. For Alfieri, therefore, the association of Artigas with Brutalism seemed to be related to mass (the opaque cantilevered volume) and simplicity (the plain white walls and ceilings) rather than to the actual expression of the béton brut.

In his 1971 doctoral dissertation, “L'architecture contemporaine au Brésil,” Yves Bruand analyzed the developments of São Paulo architecture in the 1960s.65 Bruand reinforced Hitchcock's dichotomy between the Carioca and Paulista Schools, associating the former with Corbusian rationalism and the latter with Brutalism. The Brutalist trend might also be linked to Le Corbusier's oeuvre, beginning with his Marseille Unité d'Habitation (1945–52). Bruand, however, observed a distinction between the “rationalist ideal, aiming to balance functional and formal issues,” and Brutalism's “desire to display contrasts.”66 Noting Reidy's Museum of Modern Art (1953–67) as an influence on Artigas's Itanhaém School, Bruand argued that the museum displayed typical Carioca characteristics because it was “detached” from the ground (the museum floor is raised on a portico structure), while Artigas's Paulista building displayed Brutalist features because it was “flattened” against the ground (as a single-story school with low ceilings).67 Like Alfieri, Bruand associated the rationalist line of the Carioca School with “lightness” and Brutalism with “mass” or “weight.” Raw concrete surfaces, although in themselves an integral condition of a Brutalist work, per se were insufficient: for Bruand, the fact that Reidy's Museum of Modern Art was entirely of exposed concrete was irrelevant.

Scholars regard Reidy as the “missing link” between the Carioca and Paulista Schools, noting that his designs pointed toward a “rigorous but expressive structure.”68 As Ruth Verde Zein observes, at Reidy's Museum of Modern Art, “the structural section practically sums up the building's overall concept,” and the same could be said of the FAU-USP Building.69 Unlike the designs of the Paulista School, however, the design for the Museum of Modern Art was not a single block: an educational wing was inaugurated in 1958, and Reidy planned another volume to house a theater (completed in altered form in 2005). But Oscar Niemeyer also embraced the single-block parti. In 1951, he designed four exhibition halls, connected by a free-form canopy, for São Paulo's fourth centenary celebration in 1954. Located inside Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo's largest and most famous city park, Niemeyer's complex suggested a transition between his early “fluid plan forms” and the more Platonic volumes he adopted later in his designs for Brasília.70 While the Ibirapuera canopy, with its undulating profile, offered an urban version of the “organic” roof used by Niemeyer in his Canoas House, the exhibition halls, like the Palace of Industry (today the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion), anticipated the geometric volumes Niemeyer designed for the new capital of Brasília, especially those of the Three Powers Plaza and the monumental buildings along the Ministries Esplanade. Housing the São Paulo Biennial since 1957, the vast parallelepiped of the Palace of Industry, 250 meters (820 feet) long and 50 meters (164 feet) wide, enclosed a spectacular interior where a regular grid of columns supported free-form floors connected by ramps. In the same way, Artigas's design for the FAU-USP Building featured a rectilinear exterior that gave no hint of its complex and sophisticated interiors.

The notions of structure as architecture and architecture as urbanism reached their apex in the late 1960s with the completion of both Bo Bardi's São Paulo Museum of Art (Museu de Arte de São Paulo, 1957–68) and Artigas's FAU-USP Building (Figure 5). No longer was the “official” modern Brazilian architecture Carioca—it was now Paulista, as attested by Paulo Mendes da Rocha's winning entry in the competition for the Brazilian Pavilion proposed for Expo '70 in Osaka (1969–70).71 As we will see, Mendes da Rocha's pavilion roof, gridded and filled with glazing, directly recalled Artigas's design for the FAU-USP Building. Of the four points that Rocha used to support the roof, three stood inside mounded-earth berms, so the roof seemed to hover above the ground, with only one visible supporting column composed of two intersecting arches. If the sinuous path between the “hill supports” and the sculptural “arch-column” echoed the curving forms of Carioca architecture, the rectilinear exposed concrete slab invoked the Brutalist forms of the Paulista School.

Figure 5

Lina Bo Bardi, São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, 1957–68, view toward entry belvedere on Paulista Avenue (author's photo, 2019).

Figure 5

Lina Bo Bardi, São Paulo Museum of Art, São Paulo, 1957–68, view toward entry belvedere on Paulista Avenue (author's photo, 2019).

In 1966, the music critic and historian José Ramos Tinhorão wrote a polemical piece about bossa nova, the Brazilian music style generating international success with hit songs like “The Girl from Ipanema.”72 Tinhorão observed, “Born of secret apartment adventures with American music—which is, undeniably, its mother—bossa nova, regarding paternity, still lives the same drama as so many children in Copacabana, the neighborhood where it was born: it doesn't know who is its father.”73 One might say the Paulista School shared its DNA with the Carioca School in the same way bossa nova drew upon the legacy of American jazz. But if the Carioca School was the mother of the Paulista School, can we say that Brutalism was its father?

“Paulista Brutalism” and the Rediscovery of the Patio

For Yves Bruand, “Paulista Brutalism” represented a key part of the modern Brazilian movement, no matter how different its language was from that of other local trends.74 Therefore, unlike Benevolo, Bruand recognized a continuation of modern Brazilian architecture after Brasília—and after the fall of democracy in 1964—through the production of the Paulista School. He acknowledged the existence of a “school” in São Paulo because Artigas and his disciples were there.75

However, I would argue that rather than a master-and-disciples ensemble, the Paulista School is more reasonably viewed as a collaborative group. For instance, the architects of the Paulista School worked simultaneously and in concert to generate new research on house typologies and structural systems. And although Artigas designed the “manifesto” of the Paulista School, the FAU-USP Building, Bo Bardi's São Paulo Museum of Art is recognized as a work of the same stature.

In the 1950s, Bo Bardi, together with her husband, Pietro Maria Bardi, director of the São Paulo Museum of Art, made significant contributions to Brazilian culture not only by curating museum exhibitions but also by establishing a design school and founding an arts and architecture magazine, Habitat.76 In 1951 Bo Bardi and her husband organized a show on the work of Swiss artist and architect Max Bill (1908–94), then dean of the Ulm School of Design (Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm). Bill, whose work was an important reference for the Brazilian concrete art movement, initially praised modern Brazilian architecture, writing about the “space, light and air” and the “free passage underneath the building” that distinguished the Ministry of Education and Health in Rio.77 In 1953, however, he changed his view: in a lecture at FAU-USP, Bill criticized the “antisocial academicism” in modern Brazilian architecture signaled by the repetitive use of free-form elements, all-glass walls, brise-soleils, and pilotis.78 His condemnation of the use of pilotis seemed to extend to modern architecture in general—or at least to its Corbusian variant. For Bill, pilotis threatened to replace the key function of the old internal courts, which concentrated pedestrian traffic and promoted a quieter environment. He suggested that modern architecture could retain “the advantages of courts whilst getting rid of their defects,” adding that this would be “a far more organic achievement” than replacing courts with “buildings in the form of ‘boxes on stilts.’”79 Bill's criticism had an enduring impact: first published by Lina Bo Bardi in Habitat, it ended up on the pages of Architectural Review under the direction of Nikolaus Pevsner. Even Kenneth Frampton's classic Modern Architecture, first published in 1980, cited Bill's critique.80

A decade after Bill's lecture, another European argued in favor of the patio, this time at a domestic scale.81 In “The Rebirth of the Patio,” Josep Lluís Sert (1901–83) praised patio houses arranged in clusters as an alternative to small single-family detached homes that offered less privacy. As Sert observed, “Gardens have become narrow strips between houses, and ‘detachment’ is a meaningless term.”82 Sert also pointed to the replacement of the heavy bearing walls of the past with light structures and large glazed areas that tended to bring outside spaces into the house, concluding that this could pose problems in urban areas, given their “unpredictable changes.” As he noted, “We should try to make the most of existing conditions by bringing inside our houses all the land we own, so that the interior space will appear as large as possible.”83

Artigas often organized his designs for schools and residences around patios. In designing urban houses—as, for example, in the narrow site of the Ivo Viterito House—he encountered conditions similar to those that Sert described. But the interior atrium of the FAU-USP Building, covered with a translucent grid, represents his most successful “patio” solution.84

The FAU-USP Building: Open to the Outside but Facing Inward

Artigas, a professor, created an exposed concrete design for the FAU-USP Building that was clear and easy to comprehend. Inside, the arrangement of spaces around a central atrium, the use of glass and low partitions, and the free circulation between the floors, which were connected at half levels by ramps, conveyed a sense of spatial continuity.

The building had no front doors; to enter the structure, visitors ascended a low platform, 85 centimeters (2 feet, 10 inches) in height, which provided the only physical boundary between outside and inside. Across from the flight of steps providing access to the elevated ground floor, ramps led to the ateliers above and to the auditorium below. On the way up to the studios Artigas located doors only where they were strictly necessary: at the entrance of the library, one level above the entry, and at the entrances of faculty offices and classrooms on the fourth and sixth floors.

According to Artigas's project statement, the design parti was driven by educational concerns:

As an architectural proposal the FAU building defends the thesis of spatial continuity. Its six floors are connected by wide, gentle ramps at levels that tend to give the feeling of one single plane. There is a continuous physical interconnection throughout the building. The space is open and the divisions practically do not separate the floors but simply give them a wider function. It is a school with a simple finish, modest as is appropriate for a school of architecture which is also a test laboratory. The sensation of spatial generosity which its structure allows increases the degree of conviviality, of meetings, of communications. Should one give a shout within the building, one feels the responsibility of having interfered with the entire environment. There the individual learns, becomes urbanized, and gains a spirit of team work.85

The central atrium was the focal point of the design, with all of the building's functions grouped around it. From the library on the third floor, one could see, through the glass wall, people walking up and down the ramps or crossing the first floor; from the ramps across the central void, one could catch glimpses of the library, the museum, and the administration offices (Figures 6 and 7). The atrium allowed for the visual integration of the different floors and created the sense of collective conscience noted by Artigas.

Figure 6

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, atrium (Salão Caramelo) as viewed from ramps (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 6

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, atrium (Salão Caramelo) as viewed from ramps (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 7

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library interior (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 7

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library interior (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

The library also had windows to the outside, as did the museum floor and the offices on the first, third, and fourth floors. But neither the design studios nor the classrooms on the upper levels had windows—an omission that reinforced the introspective character created by the atrium. Artigas employed the principle of top-lighting, illuminating the studios and seminar rooms from above with the roof's gridded skylights. The roof, 110 meters long and 66 meters wide (about 360 by 216 feet), featured a grid of triangular section beams framing modular openings, 2.75 meters (9 feet) square, that were sealed with translucent covers made of glass fiber (Figure 8).86 Suspended over the school's central space, this gridded skylight roof expanded the inner boundaries of the atrium, which was officially named the Salão Caramelo, or the Caramel Hall, for the hue of its epoxy flooring. Salão in Portuguese refers to a large reception room, and, although this monumental space would be empty most of the time, it could accommodate the entire school body for assemblies, rallies, or lectures.87 During the university-wide strike of 1979, a student sit-in in the Salão Caramelo suggested the democratic spirit of this shared communal space, as recorded in a widely reproduced photograph (Figure 9).88

Figure 8

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, transverse section (author's drawing).

Figure 8

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, transverse section (author's drawing).

Figure 9

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, student sit-in in the Salão Caramelo during the 1979 university-wide strike (photo by Raul Garcez; Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 9

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, student sit-in in the Salão Caramelo during the 1979 university-wide strike (photo by Raul Garcez; Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

For Kenneth Frampton, the “spaces of public appearance in the form of atria” represented a fundamental feature of Artigas's work.89 However, although the two schools Artigas completed prior to his work on the FAU-USP Building, in Itanhaém (1959–61) and Guarulhos (1960–62), featured entrances with no doors, neither school was organized around a single atrium. As a single-story building, the Itanhaém School had two covered spaces separated by a service area; the architects themselves called these spaces a “hall” and a “patio” rather than an “atrium.”90 The Guarulhos School featured two landscaped courts in addition to a top-lit area with three half levels.

The aforementioned José Bittencourt House that Artigas designed in São Paulo revealed more similarities with the FAU-USP design, not only in plan but also in section. A patio stood at its center, with ramps connecting the rooms at intermediate levels. The structural side walls toward the neighbors had no windows, while the patio enclosure was completely glazed. Like Sert, Artigas recognized that most lots in urban areas were small, and he proposed a house designed as a single volume in response to the “chaotic aspect” of the suburbs, with their “habit of distributing residential programmes in pieces, with separate annexes and blocks.”91 His design suggested that a house could be “a function of its own internal space, regardless of the size of the plot of land,” creating a kind of spatial continuity that emerged, paradoxically, from its closed orientation.92

The Union of Patio and Pilotis

The library wing of the FAU-USP Building had a distinctive association with the atrium. The library looked like a building independent of the larger structure: the wide band of windows facing the atrium was identical to the band on the opposite site opening to the exterior, while below pilotis lifted the library volume above the open entry hall (Figure 10). The library turned to the atrium as if it were an outdoor area. In fact, given the abundant natural light afforded by the skylit roof, the lighting condition of the atrium resembled that of an open-air space.

Figure 10

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library wing (author's photo, 2018).

Figure 10

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library wing (author's photo, 2018).

At the other side of the atrium, the concrete parapet of the museum floor, a half level up from the Salão Caramelo, strengthened the feeling of a patio enclosure (Figure 11).93 However, below the library, the atrium offered unobstructed access to the exterior (Figure 12). At the end of the longitudinal axis, a sequence of transparent glass doors mediated the transition between the atrium and the outside.94 The central atrium was therefore permeable, like the space created by the pilotis: when Oscar Niemeyer gave a lecture at FAU-USP in 1995, he referred to the atrium as pilotis.95

Figure 11

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, Salão Caramelo (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 11

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, Salão Caramelo (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 12

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, entrance, looking toward Salão Caramelo (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 12

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, entrance, looking toward Salão Caramelo (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Thus Artigas's FAU-USP atrium managed to unite the apparently irreconcilable entities of patio and pilotis. Although we do not know whether Artigas responded to Bill's 1953 critique of modern Brazilian architecture, his building seems immune to the questions posed by the Swiss architect.96 It has no brise-soleil; its modularity relegates free form to secondary elements; its all-glass wall disappears when it is no longer needed in the studios and seminar rooms; and its atrium offers permeability at the ground floor provided by the pilotis without sacrificing the intimacy of a court.

Ethics versus Aesthetics

The FAU-USP Building does not need a brise-soleil because the outward projection of the floors of studios and classrooms on the upper level creates a continuous overhang that protects the floor-to-ceiling windows from the sun (Figure 13). According to Fernando Serapião, Artigas admired the Alvorada Palace (1957–58), the presidential residence designed by Oscar Niemeyer, which was the first major work completed in Brasília.97 Artigas may have referred to Niemeyer's veranda as a source for the FAU-USP Building, but contrary to the palace's tapered marble-clad concrete columns, Artigas's columns emphasize the transfer of structural loads. These concrete pyramidal columns, rotated 45 degrees in plan, extend outward to align with the walls of the massive concrete volume above them (Figure 14). We can draw an analogy between Artigas's columns and the design of classical columns, where the pyramid functions as the shaft and the top inverted triangle represents the capital. The official logo of FAU-USP, designed in 1958 by a student and future architect, Ludovico Martino (1933–2011), also invokes these classical parallels, suggesting a section of a Doric column shaft. Artigas placed the logo above the building's entry.98

Figure 13

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, partial view of southwest veranda from entrance (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 13

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, partial view of southwest veranda from entrance (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 14

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, partial view of southwest façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 14

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, partial view of southwest façade (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Eduard Sekler draws specific distinctions among the terms structure, construction, and tectonics:

Structure as the more general and abstract concept refers to a system or principle of arrangement destined to cope with forces at work in a building, such as post-and-lintel, arch, vault, dome, and folded plate. Construction on the other hand refers to the concrete realization of a principle or system—a realization which may be carried out in a number of materials and ways.…When a structural concept has found its implementation through construction, the visual result will affect us through certain expressive qualities which clearly have something to do with the play of forces and corresponding arrangement of parts in the building, yet cannot be described in terms of construction and structure alone. For these qualities, which are expressive of a relation of form to force, the term tectonic should be reserved.99

According to Sekler's definition, the FAU-USP column can be defined as a tectonic form, since it does not derive its shape solely from either a structural model or its construction process, but it nevertheless expresses the distribution of structural weight in a way that a building like the Alvorada Palace, for example, does not.100 Ruth Verde Zein notes that Artigas “himself designed and dimensioned the structural solution.”101 Drawing on his architectural training as well as on his knowledge of engineering, Artigas coordinated the plastic form of the column's design with its technical requirements. As he reflected in 1967, design, like human experience itself, integrates the artistic with the scientific: “Human consciousness, with its sensitive/rational dichotomy, has yet to be conveniently interpreted as a whole, rather than the sum of two halves.”102

According to Reyner Banham, “For all its brave talk of ‘an ethic, not an aesthetic,’ Brutalism never quite broke out of the aesthetic frame of reference.”103 For Artigas, however, both aesthetics and ethics had validity. From a technical point of view, exposed concrete served contemporary needs in Brazil, and so its use represented an ethical solution. As Artigas put it, reinforced concrete construction could be realized on a large scale through the use of machines and employment of a largely unskilled workforce.104 But the use of concrete did not mean dispensing with aesthetics—as Artigas observed years later: “Concrete is not just an inexpensive solution, it also reflects the need to find the means for artistic expression, using the structure of the building, its most worthy part.”105

In 1959, Peter Collins praised the elegant structural solutions of Auguste Perret, in which the frame “constituted the architecture itself,” and the same could be said of Artigas's design for the FAU-USP Building.106 While Artigas used concrete for nonstructural elements—the low partitions dividing the studios, for example—the concrete structural frame represented his primary interest. This contrasts with the use of concrete by other architects who generated Brutalist designs, such as Michael McKinnell, one of the architects of Boston City Hall (1962–69), who noted:

Gerhard [Kallmann] and I were not particularly attracted to concrete for its inherent structural capacities.…The characteristic of concrete that we enjoyed most was that one material could do so much, and could be seen to do so much. It could be the structure. It could be the cladding. It could be the floors, it could be the walls.…I think if we could have done it, we would have used concrete to make the light switches.107

While Paulo Mendes da Rocha designed concrete sofas, tables, bookshelves, counters, cabinets, and closets for his own house in São Paulo (1964–66), exploring concrete's full potential in a way that McKinnell would have appreciated, Artigas took a more circumspect approach to the use of this material.108 For the FAU-USP Building, he designed only a series of concrete benches; those placed at the entrance and in the library were finished with white epoxy, and those located in the classroom corridor were finished with caramel-colored epoxy. He also painted non-load-bearing masonry in primary colors (blue, red, and yellow) to differentiate those walls from the exposed concrete structure and thus reinforce the building's structural clarity. Construction photographs showing the atrium without its floor finishes and its gridded ceiling open to the elements reveal the space as it stands today, practically unchanged: the completion of the structure signaled the creation of the architecture (Figure 15).

Figure 15

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, ramps and auditorium foyer during construction (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 15

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, ramps and auditorium foyer during construction (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Artigas and the Promenade Architecturale

Although the epoxy flooring used throughout the FAU-USP Building created a sense of spatial continuity, two interior areas featured different kinds of flooring: the entrance and the foyer to the auditorium. For these areas, where the school would meet the external community, Artigas specified a traditional Portuguese pavement design made of white and black limestone.

As noted earlier, when FAU-USP was founded in 1948, classes met at Vila Penteado. The reception hall of the villa was a double-height salão decorated with murals and mosaic floors. As Lucrécia D'Aléssio Ferrara has observed, the design of Artigas's atrium recalls the salão of Vila Penteado, suggesting a continuity between these collective spaces. Ferrara suggests also that Artigas's design for the small pond or laguinho in front of the FAU-USP Building references the fountain in front of Vila Penteado (see Figure 14).109 The “organic” design of the Portuguese pavement that Artigas used at the entrance and foyer of the FAU-USP Building recalls the mosaic floor of the hall at Vila Penteado. This pavement design and a curving wall at the museum level represent the only free-form elements of Artigas's project.

Its regularity notwithstanding, the 11-meter (36-foot) structural grid of the FAU-USP Building supports floors of variable dimensions (Figure 16; see Figure 8). Artigas eliminated the central columns to create a span of 22 meters (72 feet) that could accommodate both the atrium and the circulation ramps. The columns flanking this central span have a larger diameter to support the additional load as well as plumbing chases.

Figure 16

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, ground-floor plan (author's drawing).

Figure 16

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, ground-floor plan (author's drawing).

For the broad ramps, 6 meters (20 feet) wide, Artigas specified rubber flooring that stopped short of either side, with borders of epoxy strips that visually connected the ramps to the landings. Visitors gradually ascend the ramps from the open entrance at the ground floor to the closed studios and classrooms higher up. As they rise, the atrium floor becomes more distant while the daylight coming in through the ceiling comes closer. Visitors thus leave the earth and ascend toward the sky, to the space of the studios, where learning and creation occur. While the main façade, including the library veranda, faces a patch of tropical forest preserved inside the university campus, Artigas's windowless studios occupy a world of their own, with no distractions or interruptions from the outside (Figures 17 and 18).110

Figure 17

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library veranda (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 17

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, library veranda (photo by Nelson Kon, 2010).

Figure 18

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, first-year studio, view from ramp leading to classrooms (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

Figure 18

João Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, FAU-USP Building, São Paulo, 1961–69, first-year studio, view from ramp leading to classrooms (Acervo da Biblioteca da FAUUSP).

In his speech to the 1964 graduating class of FAU-USP, Artigas affirmed that “Brazilian technological development” depended on “the constitution of a workforce, in growing numbers and better trained.”111 At the same time, he stated, the architect needed to “contribute to the complex of national culture” rather than serve merely as “a professional in the building industry, an appendix of an embarrassing and terrible machine.”112 Here Artigas was likely referring to the problematic conditions of the underdeveloped Brazilian construction sector. Writing soon after the fall of Brazil's democratically elected government and the advent of martial law, Artigas urged future architects to be uncompromising in their efforts to create a better world.113 His address mounted a stirring political challenge to the graduates: that they should use their architectural practice to contribute to the struggle for a “free and independent country.”114

Artigas attended the opening ceremony of the FAU-USP Building with Dean Ariosto Mila and University of São Paulo president Hélio Lourenço de Oliveira on 3 February 1969, when visitors experienced for the first time the ramps’ promenade architecturale.115 However, Artigas had only a brief period to experience the finished structure. Already in 1968 a decree issued by the military government had closed the Congresso Nacional (the bicameral legislature) and suspended the civil rights and liberties of Brazilian citizens.116 On 28 April 1969, the military government expelled Artigas from the University of São Paulo for his membership in the Brazilian Communist Party.117 Artigas did not return to the university until ten years later, when a general amnesty law was passed.

Artigas and the Enduring “Liberative Paulista Spirit”

In 1981, the São Paulo state council tasked with protecting and preserving historical heritage designated the FAU-USP Building a historic landmark.118 In 1984 Artigas was promoted to full professor, a title he had already received before his dismissal from the university.119 In the same year, the International Union of Architects awarded Artigas the Auguste Perret Prize for Applied Technology in Architecture.

From the mid-1950s, Artigas's work offered an alternative to the Carioca School, and his design for the FAU-USP Building may well be considered a manifesto for the Paulista School. Its open, interconnected spaces materialized the interdisciplinary character of the school's educational proposal, serving as reference for the generations of architects who have studied there in the past fifty years. As Kenneth Frampton has observed, today “the spatially liberative Paulista spirit” that Artigas exemplified continues in the work of contemporary Brazilian architects like Angelo Bucci.120

Despite the fragility of its exposed concrete surfaces, the FAU-USP Building continues to withstand the test of time.121 The building's design reflects Artigas's fundamental belief in an equitable and just society, even dispensing with doors in a world obsessed with both privacy and security. The unbroken continuity of the building with the world outside is consistent with Paulo Mendes da Rocha's observation that “every space is public. Private space only exists in people's thoughts.”122



Sylvia Ficher, Os arquitetos da Poli: Ensino e profissão em São Paulo (São Paulo: Edusp, 2005), 25.


Ficher, 26. Ficher observes that São Paulo's Escola Politécnica did follow the core course of the École Polytechnique, but unlike the French system, in which specialization courses were taken at other schools, such as the École des Ponts et Chaussées or the École des Mines, the German educational model concentrated both foundational and specialization courses at the same school.


Ficher, 51–60.


Ficher, 27.


Felipe de Araujo Contier, “O edifício da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo na Cidade Universitária: Projeto e construção da escola de Vilanova Artigas” (PhD diss., Universidade de São Paulo, 2015), 90–92, (accessed 19 July 2020).


Contier, 91. Known today as the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, this institution occupies a building designed by Jorge Machado Moreira (1957–61).


João Clark de Abreu Sodré, “Roteiros americanos: As viagens de Mindlin e Artigas pelos Estados Unidos, 1943–1947” (PhD diss., Universidade de São Paulo, 2016), 169–70, (accessed 19 July 2020). In his study plan, Artigas specified his interest in both the industrialization of buildings and the architecture of the southern United States, because of the similarity of the region's climate to that of Brazil. He mentioned the positive influence that Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius, and Richard Neutra could have on Brazilian architecture and concluded that the knowledge he would acquire through his study trip could contribute to the reorganization of Brazilian architecture schools.


Sodré, 184, 225.


On Artigas's stay at MIT, see Sodré, 189. On his visits to Columbia and Black Mountain College, see Sodré, 196–97 and 209–10. On his stay at Florida Southern College, see Sodré, 214–15. Artigas was received at MIT's School of Architecture by Dean William Wurster; at Columbia, he visited the School of Architecture and Avery Library accompanied by Dean Leopold Arnaud. At Florida Southern College he visited Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings; he also drove to Taliesin West, but he did not meet Wright. He visited Richard Neutra in Los Angeles. See Sodré, 236, 223, 225.


Contier, “O edifício da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo,” 108.


These included sociologist Lourival Gomes Machado (1917–67), who served as FAU-USP's dean from 1961 to 1964, and philosopher Flavio Motta (1923–2016), who was a professor of art history.


Paulo Mendes da Rocha, interview by Guilherme Wisnik, 2G, no. 45 (2008), 135. For Mendes da Rocha, these dual strengths were represented at FAU-USP by Vilanova Artigas and Flavio Motta.


On the Butantã campus, see Fernanda Fernandes, “Arquitetura e sociabilidade na cidade universitária de São Paulo,” in Cidades universitárias: Patrimônio urbanístico e arquitetônico da USP, ed. Ana Lúcia Duarte Lanna (São Paulo: Edusp, 2005), 61.


Contier, “O edifício da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo,” 128, 141. In 1962, the Department of Technology was still divided into the Department of Construction and the Department of Applied Sciences.


João Vilanova Artigas, “As ideias do velho mestre (entrevista a Paulo Markun),” in Caminhos da arquitetura, ed. Rosa Artigas and José Tavares Correia de Lira (São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2004), 167–68, my translation. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.


Contier, “O edifício da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo,” 134. Contier quotes a statement from architect Miguel Pereira (1922–2014) in a text of 1960 that indicates that Artigas's faculty design was shown at a congress in Porto Alegre. Contier suggests that Anhaia Mello, dean for a second term at the time, secured the project for Artigas. Contier, 137.


Mônica Junqueira de Camargo, “O edifício da FAU-USP e o PAGE,” in O edifício da FAU-USP de Vilanova Artigas, ed. Antonio Carlos Barossi (São Paulo: Editora da Cidade, 2016), 165. The state government's plan was interrupted when Governor Carvalho Pinto left office.


The project for the Corridor of the Humanities was suspended after the 1964 military coup, and only FAU-USP and the Department of History and Geography (1962), by Eduardo Corona (1921–2001), were constructed. Today Vila Penteado houses the school's graduate programs, while the FAU-USP Building houses the programs for bachelor of architecture and bachelor of design degrees.


Leonardo Benevolo, Storia dell'architettura moderna, 6th ed. (Rome: Laterza, 1975), 832–33.


Benevolo, 831. Benevolo was likely referring to the architect's house at Rua Santa Cruz, designed in 1927 and completed in 1928.


The Ministry of Education and Health was designed in 1936 by Lucio Costa, Carlos Leão, Jorge Machado Moreira, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, and Ernani Vasconcelos, with Le Corbusier as consultant. Today it is known as Gustavo Capanema Palace, and it houses the offices of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.


Benevolo, Storia dell'architettura moderna, 832–43. Benevolo also mentioned Jorge Machado Moreira (1904–92) as a coauthor of the Ministry of Education and Health in the caption of a photograph of the building. He incorrectly attributed the designs of the ABI (Brazilian Press Association) and the Santos Dumont Airport to Marcelo and Maurício Roberto (1921–1996); both were designed by Marcelo with his brother Milton (1914–53) in the period 1935–37—Maurício did not join the office until 1941. Moreira and the Roberto brothers graduated from the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes as well.


Benevolo, 834.


Benevolo, 843.


Manfredo Tafuri and Franceso Dal Co, Modern Architecture (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1979), 378–79; Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition, 5th ed. (1967; repr., Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2008), xlviii–xlix. Giedion also mentioned Niemeyer's participation in the United Nations project in New York (564).


Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Latin American Architecture since 1945 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1955).


Philip L. Goodwin, Brazil Builds: Architecture New and Old, 1652–1942 (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1943).


Hitchcock, Latin American Architecture, 31, 36. The word carioca can refer to anything related to Rio de Janeiro, but it is also specifically used as a term for the city's inhabitants. The term paulista refers to São Paulo and its inhabitants.


Hitchcock, 37.


Henrique E. Mindlin, Modern Architecture in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro: Colibris, 1956), 42–43, 36. Another house that Artigas built in 1942 on the same site as his later residence suggests the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Houses.


Marlene Milan Acayaba, Residências em São Paulo: 1947–1975 (São Paulo: Romano Guerra, 2011), 45. The length of the living room and terrace of the Artigas House was 14.10 meters, and the building's total length was 26.22 meters. For the ground-floor plan, see Rosa Artigas, Vilanova Artigas (São Paulo: Terceiro Nome, 2015), 50.


Acayaba, Residências em São Paulo, 261. The living and dining rooms of this house measured 135 square meters and the atelier roughly 61 square meters. Besides the two small bedrooms, there was a suite connected to the atelier. Ohtake's remark about the “drawer-like” size of the bedrooms is quoted in Alberto Xavier, Carlos Lemos, and Eduardo Corona, Arquitetura moderna paulistana (São Paulo: Romano Guerra, 2017), 108.


Artigas designed the Baeta House with Carlos Cascaldi, his associate from 1948 to 1964. The house went through a renovation by Angelo Bucci in 1998. See “Reforma da casa Olga Baeta,” Monolito, no. 1 (2011), 56–63. See also Lauro Cavalcanti, “Two Wonderful Houses by João Vilanova Artigas,” Domus, no. 943 (Jan. 2011), 88–96.


For drawings and photographs of the Cunha Lima House, see Acayaba, Residências em São Paulo, 141–52.


The four-column structural solution can be traced, however, to Mies's Fifty-by-Fifty House, designed in 1950.


Sergio Matera, “Carlos Millan: Um estudo sobre a produção em arquitetura” (master's thesis, FAU-USP, 2005), 67, (accessed 26 July 2020).


For drawings and photographs of the Antônio D'Elboux House, see “Residência em Perdizes,” Acrópole 27, no. 317 (May 1965), 23–27, (accessed 26 July 2020).


Guedes made the same distinction between concrete and masonry in the Cunha Lima House.


Daniele Pisani argues that the houses designed by Millan informed the design for Mendes da Rocha's residence: the Nadyr de Oliveira House (1960), for example, is “a prism on pilotis,” all on one floor (except for a glazed hallway and service area in the pilotis). See Daniele Pisani, Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Obra completa (São Paulo: Gustavo Gili, 2013), 96.


For drawings and photographs of the Butantã House, see Annette Spiro, Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Works and Projects (Zurich: Niggli, 2002), 54–65. Butantã is the name of the surrounding neighborhood.


Designed with Cascaldi, this house is also known as the Taques Bittencourt House or the Mario Taques Bittencourt House. Artigas had already designed a residence for the same client in 1949. For drawings and photographs, see J. Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, “Residência no Sumaré,” Acrópole 25, no. 299 (Sep. 1963), 328–31, (accessed 26 July 2020).


Acayaba, Residências em São Paulo, 190–91. The bridge engineer was Roberto Zuccolo (1924–67). For drawings and photographs of the Ivo Viterito House, which Artigas designed with Cascaldi, see J. Vilanova Artigas, “Residência na aclimação,” Acrópole 27, no. 322 (Oct. 1965), 32–35, (accessed 26 July 2020).


For drawings and photographs of the Berquó House, see João Vilanova Artigas, “Duas residências,” Acrópole 31, no. 368 (Dec. 1969), 17–21, (accessed 26 July 2020).


As Mendes da Rocha stated: “I'm against the idea of making single-family homes in a city of twenty million inhabitants. The house of today is the vertical apartment building.” Paulo Mendes da Rocha, “Una charla sobre la Casa Gerassi,” 1:100 Selección de obras, no. 15 (May 2008), 21. In 1972, Mendes da Rocha and Artigas (with Fábio Penteado) would build the latter in the CECAP Housing Complex in Guarulhos, São Paulo. See “CECAP Zezinho Magalhães Prado Housing Complex, Guarulhos,” 2G, no. 54 (2010), 104–9.


Mendes da Rocha built a “twin” home next door for his sister, Lina Cruz Secco. See Ruth Verde Zein, “Arquitetura Brasileira, Escola Paulista e as casas de Paulo Mendes da Rocha” (master's thesis, UFRGS, 2000), 233–39, (accessed 26 July 2020).


Mendes da Rocha, “Una charla sobre la Casa Gerassi,” 26.


Artigas, “Duas residências,” 18.


Artigas, “Residência na aclimação,” 34.


On the house for Guper, see “Il patio-pergola,” Domus, no. 292 (Mar. 1954), 16–19. Levi collaborated with Roberto Cerqueira Cesar and Luiz Roberto Carvalho Franco on the design for the Perez residence. For drawings and photographs of that house, see “Residência no Jardim Europa,” Acrópole 22, no. 258 (Mar. 1960), 121–26, (accessed 26 July 2020).


Renato Anelli and Abilio Guerra, Rino Levi: Arquitetura e cidade (São Paulo: Romano Guerra, 2019), 25–26.


Goodwin, Brazil Builds, 146–47.


Artigas lived in Levi's Guarani Building (1936–42). See Rosa Artigas in Paulo Markun and Sergio Roizenblit, Habitar Habitat: Casa de Arquiteto - Rosa e Júlio Camargo Artigas (São Paulo: SescTV, 2013), video, 5:51, (accessed 26 July 2020). On Artigas's design for Benedito Levi, see João Masao Kamita, Vilanova Artigas (São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2000), 50–51.


Roberto Portugal Albuquerque, “Uma escola de arquitetura—FAUUSP: Edifícios e ensino” (master's thesis, FAU-USP, 2004), 152–62. Artigas had a temporary contract at FAU-USP until 1956, when he was appointed assistant professor. See Albuquerque, 128–39.


Albuquerque, 192.


João Vilanova Artigas, “Testimonios de Vilanova Artigas en el Museo de Imágen y Sonido de Fortaleza,” 1:100 Selección de obras, no. 56 (Mar. 2016), 142.


Artigas, Vilanova Artigas, 11.


See “Louveira Building, São Paulo,” 2G, no. 54 (2010), 26–31.


The Louveira Building was one of the first apartment towers to be built in the Higienópolis neighborhood.


On Artigas and Bratke, see João Vilanova Artigas, testimonials, in Vilanova Artigas, ed. Álvaro Puntoni et al. (São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e P. M. Bardi, 1997), 19. On Bratke's designs, see “Maison d'un architecte aux environs de Sao Paulo,” L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui, no. 49 (Oct. 1953), 50–51. See also Mindlin, Modern Architecture in Brazil, 58–61.


Bruno Alfieri, “João Vilanova Artigas: Ricerca brutalista,” Zodiac, no. 6 (1960), 96–107.


Although the stadium was inaugurated in 1960, it was not completed until 1970. Today it has a seating capacity of 67,000. See Alfieri, 102–5.


On the Rubens de Mendonça House, see Alfieri, 100–101, and drawings on 106. For plans corresponding to the Baeta House, see Alfieri, 100. See also Cavalcanti, “Two Wonderful Houses by João Vilanova Artigas.” On the Itanhaém School, see Alfieri, “João Vilanova Artigas,” 98–99. See also J. Vilanova Artigas and Carlos Cascaldi, “Ginásio de Itanhaém,” Acrópole 23, no. 271 (June 1961), 241–43, (accessed 1 Feb. 2019).


Alfieri, “João Vilanova Artigas,” 97.


The mural was painted by Mário Gruber and Francisco Rebolo Gonsales.


Yves Bruand, “L'architecture contemporaine au Brésil,” 3 vols. (PhD diss., Université de Paris IV, 1971). This work was later published in Brazil: Yves Bruand, Arquitetura contemporânea no Brasil (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1981).


Bruand, “L'architecture contemporaine au Brésil,” 2:705, 2:843. In discussing the rationalist ideal, Bruand referred to Reidy's works; in regard to displaying contrasts, he referred to the “brutal manner” of Artigas's Guarulhos School (1960–62).


Bruand, 2:843.


Luis E. Carranza and Fernando Luiz Lara, Modern Architecture in Latin America: Art, Technology, and Utopia (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014), 172, 175.


Ruth Verde Zein, “A arquitetura da Escola Paulista Brutalista: 1953–1973” (PhD diss., UFRGS, 2005), 97.


Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, 4th ed. (London: Thames and Hudson, 2007), 256.


For drawings and photographs of the pavilion, see Spiro, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 96–105. See also Pisani, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 175–90.


“The Girl from Ipanema,” music by Antonio Carlos Jobim, lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, 1962. Norman Gimbel wrote the lyrics for the English-language version of the song in 1963.


José Ramos Tinhorão, “Os pais da bossa nova,” in Música popular: Um tema em debate (São Paulo: Editora 34, 2012), 25.


Bruand, “L'architecture contemporaine au Brésil,” 2:887.


Bruand, 2:855.


The Contemporary Art Institute (Instituto de Arte Contemporânea) was a pioneering but short-lived design school in Brazil, in operation from 1951 to 1953. Bo Bardi published an article on Artigas's residential designs in the first issue of Habitat. See L. Bo Bardi, “Casas de Vilanova Artigas,” Habitat, no. 1 (Oct.–Dec. 1950), 2–16.


Max Bill, Form: A Balance Sheet of Mid-Twentieth-Century Trends in Design (Basel: Karl Werner, 1952), 145. On Bill, see Aracy Amaral, Arte construtiva no Brasil (São Paulo: Melhoramentos, 1998), 59, 228. Bill won the Sculpture Prize at the first São Paulo Biennial in 1951.


Max Bill, “O arquiteto, a arquitetura, a sociedade,” Habitat, no. 14 (Jan.–Feb. 1954), A–B.


Max Bill, “Report on Brazil,” Architectural Review 116, no. 694 (Oct. 1954), 238n. This article in English is an abridged version of the text published in Habitat.


Frampton, Modern Architecture, 257.


The words court and patio, used by Bill and Josep Lluís Sert, respectively, are not exactly synonyms. A court may be defined as “a clear area enclosed by walls or surrounded by buildings.” Although this general description might also apply to the patio, the latter is also associated with the scale of a dwelling, for example, as a “paved area adjoining a house.” See James Stevens Curl and Susan Wilson, Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), s.vv. “court,” “patio.”


José Luis Sert, “The Rebirth of the Patio,” in José Luis Sert: Architecture, City Planning, Urban Design, ed. Knud Bastlund (New York: Praeger, 1967), 134–35.


Sert, 135. Sert employed his ideas about the patio in the design for his own residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts, built in 1958.


Originally used in reference to a “small court or principal room in a Roman house,” the term atrium is now widely applied to a “top-lit internal space surrounded by several storeys.” Curl and Wilson, Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, s.v. “atrium.”


João Vilanova Artigas, “Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo—FAUUSP,” in Puntoni et al., Vilanova Artigas, 101.


The roof was supported by a grid of inverted concrete girders and also rested on the perimeter concrete walls.


Antônio Houaiss, Mauro de Salles Villar, and Francisco Manoel de Mello Franco, Dicionário Houaiss da língua portuguesa (Rio de Janeiro: Objetiva, 2009), s.v. “salão.”


The 1979 university strike was part of a larger strike that was initiated by the steelworkers’ union under Brazil's last military government (1979–85).


Kenneth Frampton, “Vilanova Artigas and the School of São Paulo,” 2G, no. 54 (2010), 4.


Artigas and Cascaldi, “Ginásio de Itanhaém,” 241.


Artigas and Cascaldi, “Residência no Sumaré,” 328, English translation from “Taques Bittencourt 2nd House, São Paulo,” 2G, no. 54 (2010), 58–59.


Artigas and Cascaldi, “Residência no Sumaré,” 328.


This space was originally intended for the exhibition of student work.


This area was occupied by administrative offices at the end of the 1980s. See Silvio Oksman, “Preservação do patrimônio arquitetônico moderno: A FAU de Vilanova Artigas” (master's thesis, FAU-USP, 2011), 100, (accessed 12 Feb. 2019).


Oscar Niemeyer, “Com os estudantes,” Folha de São Paulo, 12 Nov. 1995, (accessed 12 Feb. 2019).


In response to the criticism of modern Brazilian architecture in the previous years, Niemeyer wrote a self-critique in 1958 pointing to a change of direction in his work. See Oscar Niemeyer, “Testimony,” Módulo, no. 9 (Feb. 1958), 3–6. Artigas wrote about Niemeyer's text a few months later, noting that Niemeyer understood “the right way” to avoid the “decorative aspects” of modern Brazilian architecture. See J. Vilanova Artigas, “Revisão crítica de Niemeyer,” Acrópole 20, no. 237 (July 1958), 420.


Fernando Serapião, “The Activist,” Monolito, no. 27 (2015), 41. Niemeyer built two small structures in Brasília prior to the Alvorada Palace: in 1956, he built a wooden residence, known as Catetinho, for President Juscelino Kubitschek, and in 1957 he built the pyramidal Dom Bosco Chapel. See Lina Kim and Michael Wesely, Arquivo Brasília (São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2010), 68–77.


See Antonio Carlos Barossi, “Geometrias e significados,” in Barossi, O edifício da FAU-USP de Vilanova Artigas, 126. The logo combines a section of a Doric column, representing architecture, with triangles forming a sun figure, symbolizing urbanism.


Eduard Sekler, “Structure, Construction, Tectonics,” in Structure in Art and in Science, ed. Gyorgy Kepes (New York: George Braziller, 1965), 89.


In Flavio Motta's view, in the FAU-USP Building the wall “tries to be a column. And the column also wants to be a wall.” See Flavio Motta, “Quarta arguição,” in A função social do arquiteto, by João Vilanova Artigas (São Paulo: Nobel, 1989), 71.


Ruth Verde Zein, “João Baptista Vilanova Artigas/Carlos Cascaldi: Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of São Paulo (FAU-USP), São Paulo, Brazil,” in SOS Brutalism: A Global Survey, ed. Oliver Elser, Philip Kurz, and Peter Cachola Schmal (Zurich: Park Books, 2017), 165. The structural detailing was carried out by the office of José Carlos de Figueiredo Ferraz.


João Vilanova Artigas, “Design,” in “Vilanova Artigas e a FAU/USP,” ed. Fernando Serapião, special issue, Monolito, no. 27 (2015), 83.


Reyner Banham, The New Brutalism: Ethic or Aesthetic? (London: Architectural Press, 1966), 134.


Artigas and Cascaldi, “Ginásio de Itanhaém,” 241.


João Vilanova Artigas, “Faculty of Architecture and Planning, University of São Paulo (FAU-USP), São Paulo,” 2G, no. 54 (2010), 72.


Peter Collins, Concrete: The Vision of a New Architecture; A Study of Auguste Perret and His Precursors (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), 234.


N. Michael McKinnell, “Concrete Is Patient,” in Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, ed. Mark Pasnik, Michael Kubo, and Chris Grimley (New York: Monacelli Press, 2015), 309.


Mendes da Rocha employed a wooden flooring system, however, so that electrical wiring could run in the space between the concrete slab and the wood planks. See Catherine Otondo, ed., Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Casa Butantã (São Paulo: Ubu Editora, 2016), 68.


Lucrécia D'Aléssio Ferrara, Leitura sem palavras (São Paulo: Ática, 1993), 56–60.


The open and flexible design of the ateliers suited the school of architecture's expanded post-1962 curriculum. In 1972, after the FAU-USP reforms, Artigas received the Jean Tschumi Prize for Excellence in Architectural Education and Criticism, awarded by the International Union of Architects. See J. B. Vilanova Artigas, “Contribuição para o relatório sobre o ensino de arquitetura: UIA–UNESCO–1974,” Caramelo, no. 6 (1993), 31–38.


João Vilanova Artigas, “Aos formandos da FAU-USP,” in Artigas and Lira, Caminhos da arquitetura, 83.


Artigas, 84–85.


He advised the graduates to “avoid the desire for safety that evades all risks, that isolates the artist from any polemical situation.” Artigas, 84–85. In September 1964, following the coup d’état that took place in March of that year, Artigas was arrested because of his affiliation with the Brazilian Communist Party. He later went into exile in Montevideo, where he wrote this speech, which was read at the graduation ceremony by Mendes da Rocha. Artigas returned to Brazil in April 1965. See Serapião, “The Activist,” 43–44.


Artigas, “Aos formandos da FAU-USP,” 85.


Serapião, “The Activist,” 14. The inauguration of the building included a student admission test.


Ato Institucional Número 5 (1968), Articles 2 and 10,úmero_Cinco.pdf (accessed 13 Oct. 2020).


A decree published in Diário Oficial da União, signed by President Artur da Costa e Silva, Luís Antônio da Gama e Silva (justice minister and former USP president), and Tarso Dutra (education minister) three days earlier, ordered the retirement of forty-two federal servants. Since Florestan Fernandes, Jayme Tiomno, and João Batista Vilanova Artigas were professors at the University of São Paulo (a state institution), and therefore not federal servants, the university president, Hélio Lourenço de Oliveira, questioned the decision in a letter to Tarso Dutra on 28 April. The government's answer the next day was another decree, by the same signatories, mandating the retirement of twenty-four USP professors. These included future president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso and 2006 Pritzker Prize laureate Paulo Mendes da Rocha, as well as the university president himself. See Associação dos Docentes da USP, O controle ideológico na USP: 1964–1978 (São Paulo: ADUSP, 2004), 45–50. See also Ricardo Brandt de Oliveira and Regina Prado, Hélio Lourenço: Vida e legado (São Paulo: Edusp, 2017), 138–44.


Resolução 26 (23 July 1981), Conselho de Defesa do Patrimônio Histórico, Arqueológico, Artístico e Turístico do Estado de São Paulo.


Serapião, “The Activist,” 47.


Kenneth Frampton, “Bucci in Lugano,” Domus, no. 999 (Feb. 2016), 73.


From 2013 through 2015, areas of the building's roof and façades received extensive emergency repairs to address damage caused by water infiltration. In 2015, the school was awarded a Getty Foundation “Keep It Modern” Grant to develop a conservation management plan, to be coordinated by FAU-USP professor Maria Lucia Bressan Pinheiro.


Quoted in Annette Spiro, “Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Paulo Mendes da Rocha House, São Paulo, Brazil,” in Elser et al., SOS Brutalism, 169.