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11th BIAU Awards

Aesthetics of the Commitment


It is a sure sign of the times we are living that the most recent editions of the world’s most important biennials of architecture and art have been characterized by an indisguisable political agenda, or at the least by a marked sensitivity to social and ecological problems and issues, even if only nominally. A case in point is the recent 11th Ibero-American Architecture and Urbanism Biennial (BIAU), which bestowed awards on two high-quality interventions governed by a strong commitment to societal and environment themes: the SESC 24 de Maio project in São Paulo, by the nonegenarian master Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and the Museum of Climate in Lleida by the Catalan architect Toni Gironés (see Arquitectura Viva 199).

Located in a particularly dense neighborhood of the Brazilian city, SESC 24 de Maio is the consequence of transforming an old shopping center into a very diverse and complex ensemble of public facilities, the most iconic being without a doubt the open-air swimming pool on the roof, thanks to which users can enjoy unprecedented urban panoramas. For its part, the Museum of Environment and Climate arose from an at once rigorous and creative approach to hygrothermal control of atmospheres, one which takes public space as starting point and ends up translated into the povera aesthetic that the architect is known for, rendered with a very limited palette of materials and finishes.

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