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Particular Features of Architecture in Brazil

June 21, 2019
The Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba.

History of Brazilian Architecture

Why not use your time in Brazil to uncover the diverse architectural landscape of the country? Many factors have influenced Brazilian architecture throughout history. In addition to indigenous peoples, European immigrants also contributed their ideas and implemented European architectural styles in Brazil. Trained workers and special materials were lacking and had to be replaced, giving Brazilian architecture its special touch.
In the newly emerging coastal cities, settlers took building trends from their old homes in Europe as a model, which were then carried over to the whole country. Deep in the interior, however, more original architecture remained.
From 1530 onwards, urban architecture developed and important cities like Salvador were founded. This included the construction of palaces, churches, public buildings and residential houses. The metropolis of São Paulo best reflects the rapid development of Brazilian architecture today. The capital, Brasília, which was created from nothing in the 20th century, occupies an exceptional position.

Here is our overview of the beginnings and development of architecture in Brazil.

Indigenous Settlements

Indigenous nations in Brazil created their impressive settlements without the help of modern technology. Building materials such as wood, plants and fibers were provided by nature, which is why they varied from region to region. Usually, indigenous villages were built in a circle and the individual dwellings were grouped around a central square with a fireplace for preparing meals. The huts themselves were made of indigenous woods, which were closed and joined together by fibers, leaves and lianas. Normally the huts stood directly on the ground, in flood-prone areas on stakes. Indigenous architecture is functional. The purpose of the buildings was to protect against rain, storms and wild animals.

Colonial Architecture

During the years of Portuguese colonization until independence from 1530 to 1830, colonial architecture was created in Brazil. It was built according to the European model with local materials by the hands of the enslaved. Initially, buildings were made of wickerwork and pressed earth, before stone and mud-brick became the accepted building materials, which were accompanied by larger buildings. With the arrival of the Jesuits to Brazil, more and more religious buildings were erected as the center of the settlements. According to the Portuguese school, houses were strictly arranged along parallel streets and kept simple and uniform. The ornaments of the palaces and churches, however, were exquisite and detailed. Stucco facades, pseudo-columns and balconies with wrought-iron decoration were the order of the day. Large landowners even decorated their mansions with verandas. A beautiful example of colonial architecture in Brazil is the church of Santa Rita in Paraty.

Baroque Architecture

Many colonial buildings in Brazil are built in baroque style, especially the first sacral buildings from the second half of the 16th century. In the Northeast, numerous facades from the 17th century are based on baroque architecture. The height of the Brazilian Baroque took place in the 18th century in the state of Minas Gerais. Rich families in these mining towns invested parts of their wealth in perfecting the architecture. The artists of the region used wood, soapstone and gold to create their ornaments, statues and paintings. The churches of São Francisco in Ouro Preto and São Joao Del Rei bear witness to this golden age.

Neoclassical Architecture

From 1820 until the end of the 19th century, neo-classicism dominated Brazilian architecture. It was a reaction to the exuberant ornamentation of the Baroque period and captivates the eyes with a simple and elegant design regarding Greek and Roman culture. The buildings were constructed according to simple and symmetrical floor plans. There were high basements, columns, ledges and gables. Windows and doors were glazed. Subtle colors and noble materials like marble and oil paintings belong to this epoch of Brazilian architecture. Important buildings representing the period are the Teatro da Paz in Belem and the Teatro Santa Isabel in Recife.

Eclectic Architecture

Neoclassicism wanted to bring the greatest possible elegance to Brazilian architecture, including imported materials and trained workers from Europe. Between the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, a new style appeared on the horizon, which also followed international models. Eclecticism was a mixture of previous styles, with modern achievements in engineering, including wrought iron. A subspecies is the "fine art," which focuses on decoration and symmetry. Engineering is more functional, which is mainly concerned with structure and economy. The Teatro Amazonas in Manaus and the Estação da Luz railway station in São Paulo are two of many important buildings of eclecticism in Brazil.

Modern Architecture and the Oscar Niemeyer Phenomenon

With the Industrial Revolution and technological achievements of the 20th century, modern architecture was created, based in particular on reinforced concrete. Its peak in Brazil occurred between 1930 and 1950. The social awakening towards an enlightened society was also reflected in Brazilian architecture. The state assumed an important function in this process by commissioning numerous new buildings, that were to embody progress. European architects, such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, initially had a great influence, until Brazil was finally able to muster its own group of modern architects, including the world-famous name of Oscar Niemeyer.
In the 1960s and 1970s, modern architecture was the tool of the ruling politicians to give a face to the country's renewal and strength. This is how the new capital Brasília, with its beautiful modern buildings for which Oscar Niemeyer is responsible, came into being. It was planned on a drawing board and excavated out of the soil of the jungle. Geometric structures without ornaments form the basis of modern Brazilian architecture. The facades show a clear separation between structure and sealing. Columns made of reinforced concrete, glass walls and the artistic design of walls, furniture and gardens characterize this architectural style. For Oscar Niemeyer, beauty is one of the most important functions of architecture and can best be expressed in curves. Well-known examples are the Copan apartment building in São Paulo, the government palace (Palácio da Alvorada) and the home of the Supreme Court, both in Brasília.

Contemporary Architecture

The free design form of contemporary architecture entered Brazil in 1980. Unlike past styles, there are no uniform influences here. Instead, artists pursue their own concept and reinterpret the past according to their own ideas. What contemporary architects in Brazil have in common is their motivation to combine comfort with rational design. The designs focus on visual stimuli, functionality and sustainability. This can be seen in panoramic windows and large open spaces. Natural, organic building materials are used. The best-known representative in Brazil is Ruy Ohtake, who created the Hotel Unique and the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo, among others.

It doesn't matter whether you are an architect yourself or merely a curious traveler. We are sure, that you'll find a lot to see and enjoy during your trip to Brazil.

Sources: www.vivadecora.com.br

Source: Aventura do Brasil