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MoMA Exhibit Explores Latin American Architecture

A new exhibit at MoMA celebrates the "fitfully idealistic" architecture of Latin America, 1955 through 1980. Broad in scope, the exhibition ranges from Brasília's bold utopianism to the community-focused tactics of Bo Bardi.
April 24, 2015, 2pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Drew Edward Davies

Despite the apparent "prudishness" of figures like Fidel Castro, post-WWII Latin America had its share of visionary and even transgressive architecture. The MoMA exhibition "Latin America in Construction" takes a closer look: "The exhibition covers the years between 1955 and 1980, a fitfully idealistic era, when architecture had the capacity to literally build new societies. Photos, models, study sketches and videos exude the energy of post-war, post-colonial new beginnings."

Historical realities dampened some of this enthusiasm. From the article: "The agenda of rapid development often fell victim to the corruption and incompetence endemic to Latin America, with its tragic cycles of military coups and civil wars. Few of these many grand plans were fully realised; cities tended, instead, to grow convulsively, filling with refugees from the poverty-stricken countryside."

Participatory planning also had some of its beginnings during this era. "The MoMA exhibit includes housing plans that allowed low-income people to self-build all or part of their dwellings. Community-focused tactics would continue to develop as market-based development models took over after 1980, and have gained new currency as 'urban acupuncture'—an influential export."

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Published on Thursday, April 2, 2015 in The Economist
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