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Public spaces and the role of the architect: a comparative study of influential modernist and contemporary examples in London and São Paulo

Grant number: 13/50098-7
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: March 01, 2014 - February 28, 2017
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning - Fundamentals of Architecture and Urbanism
Convênio/Acordo: AHRC, UKRI
Principal Investigator:José Eduardo de Assis Lefèvre
Grantee:José Eduardo de Assis Lefèvre
Principal researcher abroad: Susannah Hagan
Institution abroad: Royal College of Art (RCA), England
Host Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FAU). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project will: 1) examine the role of the architect in the production of contemporary public space in Sao Paulo and London from the perspective of the architects very different role during the period of High Modernism (1960s-70s) in both cities; 2) investigate the relationship between traditional top-down design in both countries, and the growing interest in the UK and Brazil in bottom-up initiatives, within the context of the production of public spaces in both cities; 3) assess whether there are positive aspects to architectural Modernism in Sao Paulo and London that can be recovered to address the social segregation of public space that currently challenges both cities; 4) develop and disseminate a widerand deeper understanding of the relation between the authorship and ownership of public space, post-war and now in both cities. Context of The Research: The cultural and architectural innovations of Brazilian Modernism followed a post-war progresist State seeking to embody itself in a modern architecture. The critical power of this 'golden period' derives from the social agenda of architectural Modernism and the social pact between the architect and society. This period, and this pact, are long over in Brazil, and it could be argued that England, apart from a brief interlude in the early 1950s centered around the Festival of Britain, never enjoyed a Modernist 'golden period', and that the British resisted, not the emancipatory agenda of architectural Modernism, but its often alien expression in built form. The differences both in the production and reception of Modernist architecture in Sao Paulo and London bear detailed examination, to understand the role of the architect. (AU)

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