Architecture as Civil Commitment: Lucio Costa's Modernist Project for Brazil  book cover
1st Edition

Architecture as Civil Commitment: Lucio Costa's Modernist Project for Brazil

ISBN 9781409454625
Published November 19, 2019 by Routledge
226 Pages

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Book Description

Architecture as Civil Commitment analyses the many ways in which Lucio Costa shaped the discourse of Brazilian modern architecture, tracing the roots, developments, and counter-marches of a singular form of engagement that programmatically chose to act by cultural means rather than by political ones.

Split into five chapters, the book addresses specific case-studies of Costa’s professional activity, pointing towards his multiple roles in the Brazilian federal government and focusing on passages of his work that are much less known outside of Brazil, such as his role inside Estado Novo bureaucracy, his leadership at SPHAN, and his participation in UNESCO’s headquarters project, all the way to the design of Brasilia. 

Digging deep into the original documents, the book crafts a powerful historical reconstruction that gives the international readership a detailed picture of one of the most fascinating architects of the 20th century, in all his contradictory geniality. It is an ideal read for those interested in Brazilian modernism, students and scholars of architectural and urban planning history, socio-cultural and political history, and visual arts.

Table of Contents

Foreword Fernando Lara


  1. The start of a militant career: the direction of the School of Fine Arts
  2. The young director of the School of Fine Arts

    A discreet revolution

    The Salão dos Tenentes

    Report of a failure

  3. Reasons of the new architecture: Gustavo Capanema’s grands travauxs
  4. A history to reconsider

    The great public assignments and Capanema’s "dossier"

    New architecture, between theory and practice

    Le Corbusier and the appel à l’Autorité

    Negotiations and lost opportunities

  5. A programme for national architecture: the years of the Estado Novo
  6. Struggles and compromises

    Toward a State architecture

    A genealogy of modern Brazilian architecture

    A rising intellectualisation

    Modernism and national heritage

  7. A strategy of mediation: between the CIAM and the SPHAN
  8. Shaping national heritage

    Dealing with historical pre-existence

    The colonial roots of Brazilian architecture

    Baroque and national personality

    Brazilian houses

  9. Shaping the true Machine Age: art, city, landscape

Parisian experiences

Art and the emancipation of the masses

In search of a new monumentality

A maquisard in urban planning

Landscape and urbanism

A new humanism

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Gaia Piccarolo is Adjunct Professor of History of Contemporary Architecture and Landscape at the Politecnico di Milano and member of the editorial staff of the architectural magazine Lotus International. She received her PhD in History of Architecture and Urban Planning from Politecnico di Torino in 2010, with a thesis on Lucio Costa’s public charges during the Vargas Era. She curated several exhibitions and published extensively on contemporary architecture and urban planning, with special reference to Brazilian modernism and the circulation of ideas and models between Europe and the Americas. Her research has been presented in Europe, the United States, Canada, and Brazil in the framework of international seminars and conferences.