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The Past of The Future

Book recovers the pioneering spirit of the New Architecture Generation

Flávio Império, Rodrigo Lefèvre and Sérgio Ferro, architects from the decade of the 1960’s notable for their thoughts and practices, are presented in a book that reflects on their production. Architect Ana Paula Koury, the author of the book, does a painstaking and well-balanced job in getting close to the polemical work of the trio, named by her New Architecture.

Paula Koury is part of a generation of scholars of architecture that did not experience, in the heat of the moment, the debates engaged in by Ferro, Lefèvre and Império. This position makes possible a look that is divested and open to new discoveries, offering a careful reading of the professional career of these architects. She highlights what in them is presented as a collective contribution, thus configuring a group posture, and she also indicates what, in each one of them, is peculiar or proper. Accordingly, she avoids the detail and the richness of the specific getting lost in the quest for unity, and she looks at the incursion of the architects and also artists in other areas, such as painting and stage setting, besides highlighting their work in the teaching of architecture.

The four decades that separate the labor of these architects from the presentation of their work in a book witnessed several transformations and saw the very conception of architecture change, and its insertion in society in mobilizing culture and politics. The reading carried out today recovers an important moment of our architectural history and brings it up to date, clarifying the present and its queries.

In the book, the polemics of Ferro, Lefèvre and Império with master Artigas is reviewed using various texts from which emerge the doubts and vicissitudes of a period that dared to reflect on its contradictions. Industry and manufacturing, wealth and scarcity feed an architecture with a strong social commitment, which keeps a distance from purely architectural questions and places itself as a differential element in the construction of the country.

In the texts by Ferro and Lefèvre, there is an outline of the proposal for the “poetics of the economy”, which, interconnected with the reflection about the conditions on the building sites, proposes an alternative for developing the techniques for architectural production. Based on the economy of means, these poetics contemplate the country’s wants, and from then on proposes a new language that indicates other paths of work.

A particularly dense chapter is dedicated to analyzing the architectural projects carried out by the three architects, sometimes in pairs, others with other partners, but which maintain the unity of principles present in the architectures that aim at a target with clarity and which trace a route with precision. Architecture that makes simplicity its guideline, believing in solutions that transform the conditions of social housing and of work on the site, and betting on the constitution of new values in the social and political sphere.

The detailed study of their buildings recovers the character of experimentation proposed by the architects. The variations of the theme of the dome, as an economical shape and shelter the spaces of the dwelling, are explored in their constructive and spatial aspects. The author particularizes each one of the solutions and makes legible the process of investigation and the perfecting of the architectural proposal formulated by Ferro, Lefèvre and Império.

The reflections and the questionings posed by the three architects, and in particular by Sérgio Ferro, were long-lasting and had a repercussion on the formation of the following generations. With this study, Paula Koury puts political reflection and professional action side by side, allowing a new look at the work of the group and its contribution to an architecture strictly bound up with a vision of the world.

Fernanda Fernandes is an architect, a doctor in History from FFLCH/USP, and a professor of the project’s History of Architecture and Esthetics Department at FAU-USP.

Flávio Império, Rodrigo Lefèvre and Sérgio Ferro New Architecture Group
Ana Paula Koury
Romano Guerra
Editora / Edusp / FAPESP
136 pages / R$ 39.00