The Glass House

Since getting back from São Paulo, I have been reading more about the gestation of the Glass House, Lina Bo Bardi’s great house which she designed on what was then an open hillside in Morumbi where she and her husband, Pietro Maria Bardi, bought two vacant lots in 1949, thinking that they might establish artists’ studios equivalent to the Meisterhäuser of the Bauhaus.   It was not only Lina Bo Bardi who was deeply knowledgeable about all aspects of international modernism (she had published an article on ‘Case sui trampoli’ – houses on stilts – in Domus which she co-edited in 1944), but also her husband, who had tried to persuade Mussolini to adopt modernism as the appropriate style for a Fascist State and organised exhibitions on the work of Richard Neutra and Le Corbusier in the early years of the São Paulo Museum of Art.   Early photographs of it, standing on stilts and bereft of vegetation, make it look vastly much more programmatic than it does now.   As she herself wrote on its completion:-

In the thick of rambling foliage, she lightly dropped a house of crystal.   In its Swiss-precision finishes, its steely textures, its respectful perch, nothing obscures the fact that it is an artificial outpost.

This is the picture she used to illustrate her article:-

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And this is roughly the same view as it is now:-

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