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QUANDO O BRASIL ERA MODERNO: GUIA DE ARQUITETURA 1928-1960.

By Lauro Cavalcanti. Rio de Janeiro: Aeroplano Editora. 2001. R$40 (US$16.32)

This hefty little tome provides an excellent summary of Modernism in Brazil up to the completion of the principal government buildings in Brasilia not long before the dark years of military rule.

Arranged, rather charmingly, in alphabetical order of first names, it provides, for each of 33 architects, a brief biography and a description of selected projects and buildings. This is followed by a section on special projects, in all of which Oscar Niemeyer was involved: the Ministry of Education in Rio, the Brazilian Pavilion at the 1939 World Fair in New York, Pampulha, Cataguases and Brasilia.

The guide concludes with a chronology and bibliography. There are no location maps, but addresses are given, together with information on whether it is possible to visit.

The 33 architects formed part of what Cavalcanti describes in the introduction as a 'brilliant generation'. The many illustrations and plans show the buildings as they were first published (often in the AR). Masterpieces such as Lucio Costa's small log-framed Park Hotel, Affonso Reidy's curved and contour-clinging Pedregulho housing and the Roberto brothers' elegant Santos Dumont airport terminal are seen in their pristine state. Today, urban growth, tropical vegetation and, sometimes, lack of care have transformed both the settings and the buildings -- and too many have been demolished. But it is not difficult to imagine (and remember) the admiration, hope and optimism they once engendered. Sadly, Roberto Burle Marx, the landscape architect for many of these buildings, is not included.

This guide has no English translation and English speakers will need patience -- it took 43 years before Henrique Mindlin's 1956 classic, Modern Architecture in Brazil, was brought out (by the author and publisher of this guide) in Portuguese!
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:CAROLIN, PETER
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:296
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