The brutalist architectural tendency is one of the most remarkable trends of the modern architectural international and Brazilian panorama during the second post-war era until the end of the 1970 s. Those w orks more tuned with brutalism characteristically use bare and rough exposed concrete surfaces, underscoring the marks printed by the natural timber formwork, a technique which began to be used more frequently in the civil architecture of that time, both as a technological attribute and a search for a greater plastic expressivity; its use combined with exposed bricks and/or concrete blocks is also very common. Its foundational paradigm is the work of the French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) since the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille (1945-1949) and onward; his buildings helped to conform a particular architectural language which made a definite impression on architects and their works all around the world.

Examples of brutalist architecture can be found in different countries and regions at the same moment. Although visually and technically connected they may assume specific features in each case due to other influences, or by their choice to underline different constructive and technological aspects. E ven, distinct ethical and conceptual discourses can be found attached to brutalist trends in each place, in accordance to their own cultural references. Although the British brutalist works (or New Brutalism) are better known thanks to Reyner Banham’s books and its replication in several other publications, the careful research on brutalism works comparing dates and other information has to consider it as one among other manifestations within a broad international panorama, since in fact, British brutalism does not have a temporal or conceptual precedence over several other brutalist architectures from other countries and places, all of them being definitely contemporary.

This and other studies do not suggest a hierarchical but a complex and diversified panorama, with multiple side connections; in fact, a situation that Banham himself, despite his personal preferences, correctly defined as an “international brutalist connection”.

In Brazil, the brutalist trend starts from the early 1950s onward in buildings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, achieving some relevance in the work of a new generation of gifted Paulista architects, who were just then entering the scenario. The beginning of the brutalist trend in Brazil is simultaneous, and not subsequent, to the design competition and construction of Brasilia, although it gets more notoriety and consolidates in the 1960s when it gains a broad repercussion all over Brazil. Neither in that moment nor lat er has Paulista brutalist architecture become hegemonic, locally or nationally, having always simultaneously coexisted with other trends and different orientations. The research has also verified a certain degree of formal and material heterogeneity within the Paulista Brutalist architecture, a condition that can be verified in the selection of works presented here.

Worldwide brutalist trend underwent a great expansion in the 1960-70s. In Brazil, besides the Paulista case other parallel experiences, in other regions of the country, can also be observed, not necessarily with a specific influence or connection with the Paulista architecture, sometimes displaying some creative dialogues. In the 1980s, along with some technological developments of the constructive sector, there happens a fatigue and repetition of the brutalist formal and conceptual repertoire; the trend begins to fade, in a situation amplified by the debates happening at that time pronouncing the opportunity for a revision of modern architecture.

From the end of the 20th century onward, Paulista brutalist architecture is again under the spotlights, a rediscovery that prizes its avant-garde quality and artistic values. Its place inside Brazilian and international modern architecture field is being reconsidered, and several of its buildings are already considered a significant part of our modern heritage; in this condition, some Brutalist works have recently become the subject of several studies and research by scholars. Paulista brutalist architecture can now be better understood under its own universal and timeless architectural values. New studies as this research aim to guarantee Paulista Brutalist architecture status as an important aspect of modern Brazilian architecture, a parallel trend only superposed and only partially tributary to the Brazilian modernity of the Carioca School, with which it keeps a reasonable degree of formal, constructive and language autonomy.


The architecture of the “Carioca school” [~1935-1965] was internationally acclaimed on the immediate post- WWII, thanks to the outstanding quality of its works and its timely diffusion, magnified by the void of that reconstruction moment. In the early 1950s some of its architects already start to propose other works signalizing new routes, and it is quite appropriate to consider that decade as a turning point: be in the simpler and direct volumetric examples developed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer (n.1907) after the Parque do Ibirapuera ensemble in São Paulo (1951-53), be mainly in the example of Affonso Eduardo Reidy (1909-1964) with his precocious use of large rough concrete structures, as in the Brasil-Paraguai Elementary School (Asunción, Paraguay, 1952) and in MAM-RJ (Rio de Janeiro, 1953), both works using a brutalist language and magnified external transversal porticoes in exposed concrete.

In the early 1950s the architects João Batista Vilanova Artigas (1915-1984) and Carlos Cascaldi gradually begin to use exposed concrete structures, such as the Morumbi Stadium (1952), in São Paulo, or the Olga Baeta residence (1956), also in São Paulo. Just as Artigas other mature architects of that moment started to adopt the brutalist language in their works, from the late 1950s onward: as did the architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), when designing MASP- Museu de Arte de São Paulo (1958/1961); Fabio Penteado (n.1928) in the headquarters of the Harmonia Club (1964); Carlos Barjas Millan (1927-1964) in the Roberto Millan residence (1960); Telésforo Cristófani (1929-2003), in the Fasano Vertical Restaurant (1964) and Hans Broos (n.1921), in the Saint Boniface’s Parish Center (1965).

A new generation of newly graduated architects starts a career contributing to the consolidation of the Paulista face of the brutalist trend in the end of the 1950’s.. Names as Paulo Mendes da Rocha (n.1928), in the Paulistano Club (1958); Joaquim Guedes (1932-2008), in the Cunha Lima residence (1959); Francisco Petracco (n.1935) and Pedro Paulo de Mello Saraiva (n.1933) in the Clube XV in Santos (1963); Paulo Bastos (n.1936), in the São Paulo Military Headquarters (1965); PPMS with Sami Bussab (n.1939) and Miguel Juliano e Silva, with the Ballr oom of the Syria-Lebanon Club (1966); Ruy Othake (n.1938) in Tomie Ohtake’s house (1966) and in the Central Telefônica Campos do Jordão (1973); João Walter Toscano (n.1933), in the Health Resort in Águas de Prata-SP (1969); among many others.


Half a century after its appearance in the 1950-70s, the architecture of the Paulista brutalist school should be revised with an architectural look and acknowledged by its universal values, to be effectively accepted as one of the most relevant and high-quality expressions of Brazilian modern architecture of the 20th century.  MORE… (still only in Portuguese!)

The term “brutalism” is both used and disregarded by the architectural literature of the second half of the 20th century; it does not have univocal sense, being simultaneously used in different and partially superposed meanings, sometimes in an obscure manner. Its use to qualify a certain kind of Paulista architecture of the 1950-70s needs a more wide-ranging elucidation. MORE… (still only in Portuguese!)

Brazilian modern architecture from the 1930-60s is internationally renowned, though little is known on the post-Brasilia phase. It is a forgotten and underestimated period, both by international and Brazilian historiography, which inexcusably ignore numerous modern and radical architectural examples of high quality designed and built in the 1960-70s. MORE… (still only in Portuguese!)

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