As part of my crash course in Brazilian modernism, I have been trying to teach myself what I can about Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the author of the revived Pinacoteca de São Paulo, a project which involved stripping away all of its classical components, leaving only the unadorned brickwork, with the courtyards glassed over and the spaces connected by metal walkways.
The answer seems to involve the stripping away of the social concerns of architecture, the tradition in which he was trained at the São Paulo School of Architecture, towards a much more minimalist and reductive focus on form, treating architecture as sculpture, interested in the pure materiality of building, not its delivery of purpose.
Yesterday, I visited the building he did for the Museu Brazileiro de Escultura, a building as purely sculptural as it’s possible to be. I can’t say I liked it. Too abstract. Too arbitrary. Too concrete:-