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Lina Bo Bardi

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Name  Lina Bardi
Role  Architect

Lina Bo Bardi Afterall Journal 39This Exhibition Is an Accusation

Died  March 20, 1992, Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Spouse  Pietro Maria Bardi (m. 1946–1992)
Education  Sapienza University of Rome
Books  Lina Bo Bardi, Stones Against Diamonds, Oficina Theater, Bardi Lina Bo

Structures  Sao Paulo Museum of Art

Similar  Joaquim Guedes, Marcio Kogan, Oscar Niemeyer

Renato anelli presents lina bo bardi in the frame of brazilian architecture

Lina Bo Bardi, born Achillina Bo (December 5, 1914 – March 20, 1992) was an Italian-born Brazilian modernist architect. A prolific architect and designer, Lina Bo Bardi devoted her working life, most of it spent in Brazil, to promoting the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. She was also famed for her furniture and jewelry designs.


Lina Bo Bardi graham foundation celebrates the work of lina bo bardi

Architecture lina bo bardi masp

Early life in Italy

Lina Bo Bardi Lina Bo Bardi in Italy The Blogazine Contemporary

Achillina Bo was born on December 5, 1914 in Rome, Italy. Lina was the oldest child of Enrico and Giovana Bo, who later had another daughter named Graziella. In 1939, she graduated from the Rome College of Architecture at the age of 25 with her final piece, "The Maternity and Infancy Care Centre". She then moved to Milan to begin working with architect Carlo Pagani in the Studio Bo e Pagani, No 12, Via Gesù. Bo Bardi collaborated (until 1943) with architect and designer Giò Ponti on the magazine Lo Stile – nella casa e nell’arredamento. In 1942, at the age of 28, she opened her own architectural studio on Via Gesù, but the lack of work during wartime soon led Bardi to take up illustration for newspapers and magazines such as Stile, Grazia, Belleza, Tempo, Vetrina and Illustrazione Italiana. Her office was destroyed by an aerial bombing in 1943. From 1944-5 Bardi was the Deputy Director of Domus magazine.

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The event prompted her deeper involvement in the Italian Communist Party. In 1945, Domus commissioned Bo Bardi to travel around Italy with Carlo Pagani and photographer Federico Patellani to document and evaluate the situation of the destroyed country. Bo Bardi, Pagani and Bruno Zevi established the weekly magazine A – Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte in Milan (A Cultura della Vita). She also collaborated on the daily newspaper Milano Sera, directed by Elio Vittorini. Bo Bardi took part in the First National Meeting for Reconstruction in Milan, alerting people to the indifference of public opinion on the subject, which for her covered both the physical and moral reconstruction of the country.

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In 1946, Bo Bardi moved to Rome and married the art critic and journalist Pietro Maria Bardi.

Career in Brazil

Lina Bo Bardi Lina Bo Bardi 100 years young

In October 1946 Bo Bardi and her husband traveled to South America. In Rio, they were received by the IAB (Institute of Brazilian Architects). Bardi quickly re-established her practice in Brazil, a country which had a profound effect on her creative thinking. She and her husband co-founded the influential art magazine Habitat. The magazine's title referenced Bardi's conceptualization of the ideal interior as a "habitat" designed to maximize human potential.

In 1947, Assis Chateaubriand invited Pietro Maria Bardi to establish and run a Museum of Art. São Paulo was chosen as the location despite Bo Bardi’s preference for Rio de Janeiro. MASP (the São Paulo Museum of Art) was established on October 2, with temporary offices on the second floor of the headquarters of the Diários Associados on Rua Sete de Abril. Bo Bardi designed the conversion of the building into a museum. She also designed the new headquarters for the Diários Associados on Rua Álvaro de Carvalho, São Paulo, and designed jewelry using Brazilian gemstones.

In 1948, The Studio d’Arte Palma was established on the 18th floor of a building by Polish architect Lucjan Korngold (N˚ 66 Praça Bráulio Gomes, São Paulo), bringing Pietro Maria Bardi, Bo Bardi, Giancarlo Palanti (until 1951) and Valeria Piacentini Cirell (responsible for the antiquarian section) together.

Bo Bardi became a naturalized Brazilian citizen in 1951, the same year she completed her first built work, her own "Glass House" in the new neighborhood of Morumbi. Italian rationalism shaped this first work, but because she was immersed in Brazilian culture, her creative thinking began to become more expressive.

In 1955 Bo Bardi became a lecturer for the Architecture and Urbanism Faculty at the University of São Paulo. She wrote and submitted the manuscript, "Contribuição Propedêutica ao Ensino da Teoria da Arquitetura" (Propaedeutic Contribution to the Teaching of the Theory of Architecture) to the school in 1957, hoping to win a permanent position there.

In 1989, at the age of 74, Bo Bardi was honored with the first exhibition of her work at the University of São Paulo.

Bo Bardi died at the Casa de Vidro on 20 March 1992. When she died she left designs for a new São Paulo City Hall and a Cultural Centre for Vera Cruz.

The Glass House

In 1951 Bo Bardi designed the "Casa de Vidro" (“Glass House”) to live with her husband in what was then the remnants of the Mata Atlantica, the original rain forest surrounding São Paulo. Located on a 7,000-square-metre plot of land, it was the first residence in the Morumbi neighbourhood. The area is now the wealthy suburb of Morumbi but a more domesticated version of the rain forest has since re-established itself around the house, concealing it from view.

The main part of the house is horizontal between thin reinforced concrete slabs with slender circular columns. The columns are pilotis, which allows the landscape to flow under the building. Inside, the main living area is almost completely open, except for a courtyard that allows the trees in the garden below to grow up into the heart of the house. In the house, there are zones allocated to different functions- a dining room, a library, and a sitting area around the freestanding fireplace- but all are unified by the forest views through the glass. In theory, the glass panels slide open horizontally, but there is no balcony to encourage people to go outside.

The living area is only half of the house. The other half sits on solid ground at the top of the hill, on the north side of the living room. A row of bedrooms face a narrow courtyard, on the other side of which is the blank wall of the staff wing. Only the kitchen crosses the divide- a territory shared by servants and mistress, and equipped with a variety of well-designed labor-saving devices.

The São Paulo Museum of Art

Bo Bardi's basic design was used for the São Paulo Museum of Art (also known as "MASP") which was built between 1957-1968. Her husband, Pietro Maria Bardi, was curator. The Bardis became involved with the Museum after meeting the Brazilian journalist and diplomat Assis Chateaubriand. Chateaubriand, with P.M. Bardi's curatorial insight, acquired a vast collection of art for MASP, including art works by Bosch, Mantegna, Titian and Goya.

Solar do Unhão

Solar do Unhão is Salvador’s main cultural center. It was founded by Lina Bo Bardi after an invitation by the governor of Bahia to direct a new art museum in the North East of Brazil. Bo Bardi wanted this museum to show primitive art from the North East of Brazil, as well as the practical nature of their designs. The design of the museum reflects the culture in Salvador, but also the practicality and beauty of the region. Solar do Unhão used to be a sugar mill and was named after the 17th century Brazilian high court judge, Pedro Unhão Castelo Branco. Lina Bo Bardi was commissioned to restore the sugar mill into a museum of modern art. The construction lasted from 1959-1963. The staircase contrasts abstract geometry and traditional materiality. Lina Bo Bardi is paying homage to the 17th century building, but at the same time updating it with modern designs. Her goal was to restore extant buildings in ways that neither pandered to nostalgia nor ignored context. To do this, she left the colonial exterior intact and added the modern staircase. Solar do Unhão reflects Bo Bardi’s belief that a museum should also be a place for education. When the museum was first built it held many classes that educated the locals in art and history. Bo Bardi believed that a museum should not be a mausoleum of the past and should instead be an active site of knowledge.

Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia

In 1982, Lina Bo Bardi finished construction on Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia (now called the SESC Pompéia). The building had initially housed a drum factory and Bo Bardi was tasked with turning it into a community center. SESC Pompéia was built after a 20-year military dictatorship in Brazil that created architecture that did not mirror the Brazilian culture. SESC Pompéia is thought to be a new architectural language controlled by Brazilian culture. SESC is a non-governmental linked to national business federation, created in the 1940’s to provide employees with health services and cultural activities. Due to the military dictatorship, Lina Bo Bardi had been ostracized by a conventional architectural outlook. SESC Pompéia sent a shockwave through São Paulo. In 1982 the first stage of the complex was revealed. Bo Bardi had stripped away the plaster and then sandblasted the walls in order to find the essence of the large building. Lina Bo Bardi’s design combined red brick and unconventional concrete towers which were combined by aerial walkways. The building currently houses many activities rooms, including: theatres, gymnasiums, a swimming pool, snack bars, leisure areas, restaurants, galleries, and workshops.

Teatro Oficina

The Teatro Oficina was designed by Lina Bo Bardi in 1984. Bo Bardi was commissioned to turn a burnt office building in São Paulo into a theatre. The building was designed for the theatre group with the same name whom were an important part of the Tropicalia movement of the late 1960’s. Tropicalia strived for change and a way for Brazil to escape its colonial past. They used theater to try and understand their Brazilian heritage. Bo Bardi designed the new space almost completely out of painted scaffolding. The design references the construction of sets in a theatre space. The theatre does not have conventional seats and this leads to bad sight lines. Architectural critiques have stated that this does not take away from the theatre experience but enhances it with intensity. The heavy wooden seats are designed in a circle at center stage and the stage is very narrow. Initially, the theatre was designed for experimental director, Zé Celso, who has said that the idea of the space came to him in an acid trip.The theatre is often used by experimental performers who work around the space. The design of the theatre is meant to make the viewer feel as though they are engaged with the act on the stage.

Furniture design

In 1948, she founded the Studio de Arte e Arquitetura Palma with Giancarlo Palanti (1906–77) to design economical furniture of pressed wood or plastic manufactured by Pau Brasil Ltda., the fabrication studio they opened, and through which they furnished the São Paulo Museum of Art's first headquarters. In the 1950s, Bardi began designing metal-framed furniture with upholstered seats and backs. Later designs, such as her 1967 Cadeira Beira de Estrada (Roadside Chair), embody an unfussy aesthetic with simplicity of design and reduction and rawness of material.

Writing on Sustainable Architecture

In 1958, Lina Bo Bardi published a ninety-page thesis intended as a treatise or manifesto. Titled “Introductory contribution to the teaching of architectural theory” it focused on the relationship between nature, society and architecture. She defined architecture as “an art that must seriously take into account the land in which it takes place” and as “the projection of civilized man in the world.” Lina Bo Bardi believed that “architecture takes inspiration from the nature that governs it and gives it to the materials and the necessary elements to shape it harmoniously.” In the manifesto Lina Bo Bardi talks about her inspirations: Gaudi’s organic structures and Frank Lloyd Wright’s hemicycle houses. Bo Bardi’s theories are illustrated in her building designs that emphasize the importance of reusing architecture and sustainability.

Example of Sustainable Buildings

The Glass House, designed by Lina Bo Bardi for herself and her partner, is built in the Brazilian rainforest. The building works around the environment and even replanted all of the trees that were removed during the construction of her new home. Lina Bo Bardi is best used for recycling old buildings. SESC Pompéia is an example of a building that Lina Bo Bardi designed with recycled materials. Bo Bardi took the old drum factory structure of SESC Pompéia and modernized it without having to completely destroy the factory. Lina Bo Bardi’s sustainable architecture is thought to reflect the culture she was living in. In Brazil Bo Bardi was surrounded by rainforest and her architecture reflects the importance of nature to the Brazilian people. Many famous architects, such as Isaac Julien and Norman Foster, have cited Lina Bo Bardi as inspiration for their sustainable designs.


In 1990, the Instituto Lina Bo Bardi e P.M. Bardi was established to promote the study of Brazilian culture and architecture.

Over the past years, numerous artists and architects including Gilbert & George, Cildo Meireles, Isaac Julien, Cristina Iglesias, Norman Foster, Olafur Eliasson, and Adrián Villar Rojas have created works in homage to Lina Bo Bardi. SANAA architect Kazuyo Sejima put her at the center of her Venice Architecture Biennale in 2009. Her work was the subject of a 2012 exhibition at the British Council in London. In 2013, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist mounted the exhibition “The Insides are on the Outside”, set at the Casa de Vidro and at SESC Pompeia. Gilbert & George spent a day at the Glass House as living sculptures, documenting the results with postcards that will be distributed to visitors.

In 2013 the British Council, in collaboration with the Instituto Lina Bo Bardi e P.M. Bardi, created a fellowship called the Lina Bo Bardi Fellowship for UK architects to travel and work in Brazil.

In 2014, a Google Doodle commemorated her 100th birthday.

In 2015, The Guardian elected Lina Bo Bardi's Teatro Oficina (1991) as the best theatre in the world.

List of selected architectural projects

  • The Glass House, 1951: Bardi's residence
  • Solar do Unhão, 1959: sugar mill converted to a craft museum in Bahia
  • São Paulo Museum of Art, 1968
  • Centro de Lazer Fábrica da Pompéia (Pompéia Factory Leisure Centre), 1986
  • Teatro Oficina, 1991: variable space composed of repurposed materials that dissolved the distinctions between actor and audience, stage and backstage
  • Biography at the Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro M. Bardi
  • Lima, Zeuler R. M. de A. Lina Bo Bardi (biography, Yale University Press, 2013)
  • Meyer, Esther da Costa. (Winter/Spring 2002) "After the Flood". Harvard Design Magazine. No. 16
  • Profile of Bardi for Exhibition at Museum of Design, Zurich
  • Profile of Bardi for Exhibition at Civic Museums of Venice
  • Davies, Colin. Key Houses Of The Twentieth Century, Plans, Sections And Elevations. W W Norton & Co Inc, 2007.
  • Veikos, Cathrine. Lina Bo Bardi: The Theory of Architectural Practice (Routledge, Taylor & Francis, 2013)
  • References

    Lina Bo Bardi Wikipedia