An Architect Committed to Life

Zeuler R. Lima 

Lina Bo Bardi was an unusual architect and she produced inimitable work. She was born in Rome in 1914 and passed away in São Paulo in 1992. In Brazil, her adopted country, recognition to her work did not happen until the last years of her life. International interest in her career has grown substantially in the last few years, driven in part by the celebrations around her birth centennial in 2014. Perhaps not by coincidence, the awakening to the importance of her work has paralleled the ideological crisis that hushed the imperious voices of the architectural star-system after the recent economic downturn. However, despite the long-due recognition of her work, such acknowledgment still yields some confusion and misinterpretations. The reproduction of imprecise and historically unchecked information continues to be found in publications about her, be they scholarly or for the general public.

Whether motivated by some of her own hyperbolic accounts, by writers’ unfamiliarity with the intricacies of the subject, or by the temptation to create a legend around her, deeper knowledge about Lina Bo Bardi’s life and work actually reveals a career that is far more complex and relevant to today’s design challenges than simplistic projections may reveal. Attention is required on this path: those looking for a coherent production will find out that her work is difficult to categorize. Neither is it playful or accidental. It is serious and precise. Despite the compelling appearance of her work, her contribution to architecture was not through a formal or visual vocabulary. Her legacy is rather an attitude: the pursuit to reconcile aesthetic and humanistic principles in straightforward and meaningful ways...[+]

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