An exhibition at New York’s MoMA aims to shed light on the continent’s vital role in architectural invention in the decades after the Second World War
Starting this weekend (29 March), MoMA’s major exhibition looks at a period in Latin American architecture defined by a self-questioning attitude across all of its countries.
Five hundred key works from the period consider architecture’s political function and explore directions in public space, housing and campus design, including many lesser-known modern buildings and protagonists. Its curator Barry Bergdoll told us more.
ICON: Why is it important to re-evaluate Latin America now?
Barry Bergdoll: Along with Europe and the US, Latin America was the third partner in the great flowering of architectural invention in the decades after the Second World War. So it is important to redress a huge historical oversight.
But the themes are vital today too – we are experiencing a period of intense urbanisation, when the role of public interest has been called into question, and many of the problems Latin American cities faced half a century ago are again of vital urgency.
ICON: What themes does the show consider?
BB: A key focus is the relationship of architecture to the dominant concern of the period: developmentalism, whether in its wholehearted embrace or, in the case of Cuba, radical critique. Architecture explored a whole range of social programmes, new materials and new concepts of the relationship of building to public space, as well as a multitude of experiments in improving housing.
ICON: What are the key buildings on show?
BB: The Bank of London building in Buenos Aires, Rogelio Salmona’s Torres del Parque in Bogotá, the work of Lina Bo Bardi in São Paulo and Salvador, the creation of Brasília, and on and on.
ICON: Whose work did you discover?
BB: There were many amazing architects who are new to me: Fernando Martínez Sanabria in Colombia, Nelson Bayardo in Montevideo, and the PREVI housing experiment in Lima.
Images: Leonardo Finotti; Núcleo de Documentação e Pesquisa – Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro; Arquivo Publico do Distrito Federal; Courtesy PUC Archivo de Originales; Leonardo Finotti; Paolo Gasparini and Fundación Rogelio Salmona; Archivo Vittorio Garatti; Archivo Vittorio Garatti; Guillermo Zamora. Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos, Facultad de Arquitectura, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Guillermo Zamora. Museum of Modern Art, New York, Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos; Archivo Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré; Archivo Miguel Rodrigo Mazuré; Leonardo Finotti; Jorge Gambini Ons © Jorge Gambini Ons; Museum of Modern Art, New York. Latin American and Caribbean Fund