Amateur Architects in Twentieth-Century Brazil – Third Text – article

Amateur Architects in Twentieth-Century Brazil

Fernando Luiz Lara | Third Text

2019-10-22

Walking around any Brazilian neighbourhood built around the mid-twentieth century one cannot avoid noticing the prevalence of modernist aesthetics in the facades of the majority of the houses. Even more unique is the fact that those houses were not designed by architects but instead were conceived by the owners themselves with the help of untrained construction workers. In this article I call them ‘amateur architects’ and I analyse this singular phenomenon. This article also goes beyond the Brazilian case to problematise the issue of architectural dissemination. How does it take place? What are the vectors of information? How are stylistic and spatial trends disseminated? How do non-professional architects such as house owners, inhabitants, and construction workers participate in fabricating architectural aesthetics. In sum, how could a modernist proposal become vernacular? Such a vernacular modernism becomes an interesting appendix to the broader revaluation of amateurism in the arts.

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