The dramatic transformation of Latin American capitals in the mid-twentieth century by housing projects for the middle and working classes is one of the most familiar and important parts of the region’s architectural history. Whether in Caracas, according to the designs of Carlos Raúl Villanueva; in Mexico City, under the direction of Mario Pani; or in Rio de Janeiro, with the guidance of Affonso Reidy, modern housing projects reshaped the daily lives of countless people and functioned as symbols and instruments of urban growth and government-led modernization schemes. Ana María León’s Modernity for the Masses is about how the immigrant Catalan architect Antonio Bonet might have contributed to such change in the Argentinian capital yet didn’t.

León’s study focuses on three unbuilt housing schemes that Bonet designed between 1943 and 1957, and argues that the projects demonstrate the ways the architect’s admiration for the ideals of Spanish surrealism and Francophone...

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