The work of Costa, Freyre and MOMA amounts to a coherent intellectual attempt to project the past into the present, with the Grande Hotel at Ouro Preto perhaps its most highly developed manifestation. In terms of architecture, the Grande Hotel produced several significant derivatives, two of which are worth describing in detail. First is Costa’s own Park Hotel, in the Parque Sao Clemente at Novo Friburgo, a mountain resort town in the state of Rio de Janeiro (1940–44). In Cavalcanti’s view, this is no less than ‘Costa’s masterpiece’. In appearance, the Park Hotel is at first sight strikingly similar to Niemeyer’s Grande Hotel. 

Like the Grande Hotel, it is a horizontal block set into a hillside on a narrow, steeply sloping site. It is relatively small, just ten rooms; it is four storeys in height; it has clearly demarcated public and private sides: the private side is defined by a balcony running the entire length of the structure, and providing access to the private rooms; the more public functions of the hotel are located on the ground floor of the building. From the private side, it is (like the Grande Hotel) a building that fits seamlessly into its context. For the inexpert, it is hard to distinguish from historic buildings. It makes much use of historic materials and techniques. The architect Henrique Mindlin draws attention to its ‘open work panels of hollow tiles or pre-cast concrete . . . trellises or jalousies – sometimes revivals of old designs, like the muxarabis . . . balustrades are used almost in their original form, or occasionally on a more magnified scale for more obvious and emphatic architectural accent’. He praises the ‘fusion with the environment, embodying an emotional relationship with the past yet free of any slavish urge to copy or imitate and hence leaving the way clear for the adoption of characteristic contemporary solutions’. The construction is ‘extremely rustic’; the materials and construction use local techniques. It is an example of the past being evoked in an ‘abstract’ rather than ‘figurative’ way; it is not a copy of an old building, but rather one that evokes comparison with one.

It is worth noting, however, that the construction itself is not primitive, having many similarities with more explicitly modern buildings. It was constructed on pilotis and has a trapezoidal section; the wooden structure, using rough tree-trunks, had certain advantages: cost (the construction materials were practically free), an appearance of rustic simplicity greatly appealing to the hotel’s clientele, and respect for an environmentally sensitive site. Furthermore, formally this is a knowing, learned building, Bruand wrote: there is a ‘sound sense of proportion based on the application of a classical model . . . apparent simplicity an expression of sober refinement’. The historic and modern elements are simultaneously revealed and concealed – the pilotis, for example, are not all exposed; there are walls of unadorned stone. Some elements can only be modern, such as the horizontal windows on the rear facade, but at the same time some elements can only be colonial. It is a superficially simple exercise, but in reality much more knowing and sophisticated than it originally appears.
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