Brazilian Architecture Unveiled

Architectural Styles from around the World Dated:  Sept. 10, 2014
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Design Courtesy- Studio MK27

Speaking about the city of Sao Paulo, the characteristics vary a lot from one neighborhood to the next, primarily for economical reasons. In the middle class society and the more affluent districts, most of the new constructions are multi-storey buildings, either for home or office. The great majority of those buildings are built taking no care for architecture, with the exception of a few more wealthy districts, where the price can be sometimes higher than US$12,000.00 per sq. meter (yes, this is not a typo. 12 thousand / sqm). Architecture usually takes a second role. Some districts, mainly those comprising lower middle class feature small houses made with little to no architectural guidance. There is also the question of the informal neighborhoods, or “favelas”, which are made with no assistance from architects, engineers or city planners.

Talking about the residential unit size, in Sao Paulo, alone, the majority of the new higher middle class apartments are about 100 m² to 250m², but there is a substantial share for the rich that can be much bigger, from 250m² to 400m² and in some cases, 800 to 1500m², although those are scarce. As for the lower income group, the size ranges from 50m² to 90m².
In Rio de Janeiro, the sizes are even smaller, as the prices can be a lot higher than in Sao Paulo. Outside Rio and Sao Paulo, houses are bigger, but I don't have the numbers.

The vast majority of the buildings in Brazil are made up of an independent steel reinforced concrete structure with brick walls. The more modern buildings are made with steel structure, glass facades and drywalls. The “favelas” are made up of wooden structure with plywood walls and fiber-concrete roofs, or, when the people have more resources available, the houses are made using the same technique of independent reinforced concrete structure and brick walls, although they seldom have budget to make the finishing plaster, leaving the structure and bricks visible. The roofs are also fiber-concrete; which is not suitable for the Brazilian weather at all.

The architects here used to design buildings keeping in mind the correct orientation to make the best use of sunlight, shadows and winds, and also ensured that the height of walls in the interiors is tall. In the past 20 years or so, the building codes became very restrictive, especially in what refers to the height. For this reason, most of the buildings require air conditioners. We also use materials to isolate the weather, but, as Brazil has not a life threatening cold like some countries, weatherproofing is very expensive, so the thermal efficiency is almost always bad.

Brazilian real estate developers do not care for architecture, and for this reason, Brazilian architecture is one step behind European architecture.

1950s and 1960s were the golden periods in Brazilian architecture. I think we can call it the traditional style of Brazilian architecture and this can be seen very often as a source of inspiration. As for the older, "roots" architecture, this has become very scarce.

The main architects in Brazil today are, among others, Marcio Kogan, Isay Weinfeld, Ruy Ohtake, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, Triptyque, Jacobsen, Bernardes.

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