Monograph dedicated to Arquitetura Nova, Biennale's guest of honor, group of Brazilian architects (1961-1971)
Curator: Davide Sacconi

Arquitetura Nova: building as revolution

Between 1961 and 1971 the intense collaboration between Sérgio Ferro, Flávio Imperio and Rodrigo Lefèvre – later labelled Arquitetura Nova –produced an exceptional body of work: experiments in painting, theatre, pedagogy, building techniques and construction site organisation that aimed at reinventing the role of the architect within a Brazil under construction.

Having experienced firsthand the brutal labour conditions behind the soft curves of Brasilia, Sérgio Ferro, Flávio Imperio and Rodrigo Lefèvre rejected both the false hope of industrialization and the deception of a free, open and democratic aesthetic promised by Modernism. Instead, Arquitetura Nova challenged the very idea of development by embracing the existing condition of production and subverting the hierarchies of the construction site. Blurring the boundaries between designing and constructing, drawing and acting, learning and teaching, Arquitetura Nova reclaimed the rationalization and sharing of popular construction techniques as an instrument against the exploitation and alienation of the construction worker. Building became the construction of a possible life together. Dreams seen up close but definitely turned impossible after the military coup of 1964, which made of large-scale development, urban growth and violent repression the cornerstones of the Brazilian State of the following two decades.

The work of Arquitetura Nova is showcased for the first time ever in a selection of drawings, images and texts from the archives of FAU USP (Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo), IEB (Institute of Brazilian Studies) and the personal archive of Sérgio Ferro. However, the exhibition transcends the historical dimension of the work to interrogate the value of the Arquitetura Nova’s approach vís-a-vís the current Brazilian and global politico-economic condition. From this perspective the abrupt end of Arquitetura Nova with the imprisonment of Sérgio Ferro and Rodrigo Lefèvre in 1971 finds a counterpoint in the collection of artworks produced in the atelier organised by Sérgio Ferro during the imprisonment, while the work of USINA_ctah, a ONG of architects that supports the housing movements in the construction of cooperative housing since 1990, reaffirm the urgency of radical practice of building.

Davide Sacconi


Arquitetura Nova, Biennale's guest of honor (Sérgio Ferro, Flávio Imperio and Rodrigo Lefèvre), Brazil


Usina_ctah, Brazil

Rodrigo Lefèvre et Ronaldo Duschenes (collaboration Félix Alves de Araújo), Casa Thomas Farkas, 1971
Collection: FAU-USP © Fotografia Motivo