Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mendes da Rocha wins Pritzker + Poem: Régis Bonvicino

Mendes da RochaThe Hyatt Foundation, which awards the annual Pritzker Architecture Prize, has named Brazilian architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha (right) its 2006 laureate. Thomas Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation, said that the 77-year-old São Paulo resident "has shown a deep understanding of space and scale through the great variety of buildings he has designed, from private residences, housing complexes, a church, museums and sports stadia to urban plans for public space. While few of his buildings were realized outside of Brazil, the lessons to be learned from his work, both as a practicing architect and a teacher, are universal.”

Lord Palumbo, chair of the prize committed, noted "the joyful lilt of Brazil [he brings] to his work...[Mendes da Rocha is] never afraid of innovation or of taking risks...indeed, a worthy choice," while Rice University architecture and prize juror Carlos Jiménez said that "he builds with exceptional economy to achieve an architecture of profound social engagement, an architecture that transcends the limits of construction to dazzle with poetic rigor and imagination." The jury's citation also mentioned his skillful restoration and renovation projects. Mendes da Rocha will receive his bronze prize medal and a $100,000 grant on May 30, 2006 in Istanbul, Turkey. He's the second Brazilian to win the Pritzker; Oscar Niemeyer, the designer of the futuristic capital of Brasília and other modernist landmarks in Brazil and elsewhere, received it in 1988.

I've never seen any of Mendes da Rocha's buildings in person, but from the photographs, they do appear to combine conventional industrial building materials--concrete, stone, glass--to noteworthy effect, sometimes by means of ingenious features, imaginative, lyric geometries, and well-thought out site design. They also exceed many of the limitations of the "Brutalist" style with which he made his mark, beginning in the 1950s. Below are a few of the images Land + Living features on his work.

Guaimbê Residential Building
The Guaimbê Residential Building, São Paulo, Brazil, 1964 (Photo by José Moscardi)
Paulistano Athletic Club
Paulistano Athletic Club, 1958 (Photo by José Moscardi)
Paulistano Athletic Club
Paulistano Athletic Club, 1958 (Photo by José Moscardi)
Forma Store
Forma Store, São Paulo, 1987 (Photo by José Moscardi)
Mario Mosetti House
Private home for Mario Mosetti, Cabreuva, São Paulo State, 1995 (Photo by José Moscardi)


Here's a poem by a contemporary Brazilian poet, Régis Bonvicino (1955-), a São Paulo native whose poetry captures the variegated spaces and places of that vast and expanding metropolis. The poem below, "Garbpoem," translated by Odile Cisneros, is taken from Chicago Postmodern Poetry. An interview with Bonvicino is available here.


Her teeth could merchandize
though they merchandize Colgate
droplet earrings hang from her earlobes

to sell or vender
her feet don't tread on false ground
and stride barefoot
in a clip or a film

her feet advertise
incorruptible plastic sandals
b(p)rutish Venus
drinks any old drink, backstage,

now at times looks
like a transvestite
now Hollywood is at her feet

she poses, full of herself
she shows off her silicon breasts
she wears coats, in winter, from otter's fur
or from some other species

her head is full of hidden cocaine
she admits to having hobbies among which
her favorite one: performing blow jobs
it's more aseptic, under control,

and saves her clitoris
keeping the smell of cosmetics
on her body and clothes
on her lips, botox

her nose advertises an allegorical scent
from her long and wavy hair,
blind letters fall, they occasionally
flash back, she wears a choker

she cleans her own tongue
mainly the back side
with a new product
to freshen her breath

she sells no clothes
she sells her lips
the lips sell her mouth
a cornucopia of herself

she listens to techno and hip hop
she fingers the white lines
She can't read or write
Anything but her name

Copyright © Régis Bonvicino, copyright © Translation by Odile Cisneros

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