There are a few other structures built on similar principles. There is a country house for Hildebrando Accioly near Petropolis by Francisco Bolonha from 1950, and a resort complex by the Roberto brothers from 1944, both large-scale exercises in Costa-style Modernism. For Bruand, the latter was a real triumph: ‘a perfect example of the application of the theories of Lucio Costa . . . here the synthesis between local tradition and the modern spirit reaches the high point of perfection’. But the real legacy is perhaps simply in the legitimacy Costa’s theories gave to the use of historic elements in otherwise Modernist buildings

The best-known examples include the use of azulejos at the MES, and at the buildings in Pampulha, and the traditional Portuguese tiling of pavements in otherwise Modernist urban schemes, such as the Avenida Atlantica in Copacabana. Perhaps the most extensive application of Costa’s ideas can be found in high-class domestic architecture. Many of Niemeyer’s early buildings reference colonial methods and styles: see the monopitch tiled roof and whitewashed walls of his Cavalcanti House in Gavea, Rio (1940), or his own house in the same location (1942). Costa’s houses do much the same: see his Casa Hungria Machado in Leblon (1942) or a very late exercise in the same style, Residencia Helena Costa in Rio (1980–84), which is almost indistinguishable from the colonial vernacular. For the critic Maria Alice Junqueira Bastos, this is a vital building representative of Frampton’s global concept of critical regionalism. In the 1950s and ’60s the Italian-born architect Lina Bo Bardi built numerous houses for wealthy clients that referenced the local vernacular, especially the forms of the rural north-east. Like Costa’s work, her houses could approach the condition of the vernacular to the point at which they are inseparable from it. Her Casa de Valeria P. Cirrel (1958) in Morumbi, Sao Paulo, is a particularly striking example. And at the same time, the Paulista architect Vilanova Artigas built much that referenced the historical past, often in a polemical way. His rather ironic Casa Elza Berquo (1968) in Sao Paulo has a concrete roof held up with an unadorned tree-trunk, a reference to Brazil’s condition of underdevelopment as much as its traditional forms of building.

Much more recently, Paulo Mendes da Rocha has built a chapel that is legibly a reprise of Costa’s Museum of the Missions of 1937. Built for the artist Francisco Brennand on his sprawling estate in Recife, the chapel is a new structure in the ruins of an old building. It is modern while making abundant reference to the past. It uses the forms of colonial buildings to moderate the tropical climate, while, like Costa, Mendes da Rocha is unfazed that this structure reiterates the forms and rituals of colonial Brazil. Brennand’s estate, on the outskirts of one of Brazil’s most unequal cities, is the direct continuation of the colonial fazenda, continuously inhabited by his family since the eighteenth century. Brennand’s income derives from the international art market, in which he has made a substantial career. But everything else about the estate speaks of the persistence of colonial values, with the artist as benign patriarch ruling over what is in effect a mini-state. Mendes da Rocha’s work is simply the latest manifestation of a complex and ambiguous tradition of Modernism in Brazil, in which the past and the future are kept simultaneously in play.

The same attitude towards the past is manifest in the continued activity of IPHAN, an organization that has operated with notable consistency since its foundation as SPHAN. Andrade remained director from 1937 to 1967, to be succeeded by Costa, who had already spent most of his working life with the organization. Continuing the tradition, on his retirement Costa handed over the directorship of the organization to his granddaughter, Maria Elisa Costa. According to IPHAN itself, 20,000 buildings are now protected (tombados, to use the organization’s terminology), along with 83 towns and cities, and more than 12,000 archaeological sites. The emphasis on Portuguese colonial architecture, a peculiarity of Costa, continues. Among the most remarkable of the protected sites is the capital, Brasilia, whose realization had been in large part the responsibility of Costa himself. The act of tombamento preserves the city’s now historic buildings, while the integrity of the plan is looked after by UNESCO: World Heritage Status was awarded in 1987. The Brasilia episode makes clear the curiously close relationship between Modernist and historic architecture. The ferocity of development in Brazil’s large cities suggests a widespread indifference to the past. But this coexists with an anxiety to bring those officially validated kinds of Modernism within the historical frame as soon as possible. Brasilia was barely 30 years old when it was inscribed in the livro de tombo. Its historicization, you might say, has been pursued with the vigour of the true Modernist.
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