Lina Bo Bardi, the Italian architect, designer, scenographer, artist and critic, naturalized as a Brazilian citizen, is the recipient of the Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in memoriam of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, that will open to the public on Saturday May 22nd 2021 (preview May 20th and 21st).
The acknowledgment was recommended by Hashim Sarkis, curator of the Biennale Architettura 2021, and approved by the Board of Directors of La Biennale di Venezia.
In recommending this award, Hashim Sarkis expressed the following motivation:
«If there is one architect who embodies most fittingly the theme of the Biennale Architettura 2021, it is Lina Bo Bardi. Her career as a designer, editor, curator, and activist reminds us of the role of the architect as convener and importantly, as the builder of collective visions. Lina Bo Bardi also exemplifies the perseverance of the architect in difficult times whether wars, political strife, or immigration, and her ability to remain creative, generous, and optimistic throughout.
Above all, it is her powerful buildings that stand out in their design and in the way that they bring architecture, nature, living, and community together. In her hands, architecture becomes truly a convening social art.
Just as one example, the design of the São Paulo Museum is exemplary in its ability to create a public space for the whole city, to create spaces inside that are flexible and to be open to experimental and more inclusive exhibitions such as Bo Bardi’s own exhibitions. The titles of these exhibitions alone, “The House as Soul,” “The Dignity of Architecture,” and “The Hand of the Brazilian People,” illustrate very strongly the power of architecture to bring people together.
The Special Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement is a long overdue recognition for an illustrious career straddling between Italy and Brazil, for re-enlivening the role of the architect as an enabler of society, and for a woman who simply represents the architect at her best.»
Achillina Bo, known as Lina, was born in Rome in 1914. Graduated in architecture in 1939, she moved to Milan where she met Gio Ponti. In 1944 she co-directed Domus with Carlo Pagani and with the support of Bruno Zevi she created the weekly magazine A-Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte. In 1947 Lina moved to Brazil with her husband Pietro Maria Bardi.
Between 1957 and 1969 she built the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP): a large concrete and glass parallelepiped that would become one of the most iconic buildings of Brazilian Paulista architecture.
Lina at São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) under construction, 1968. Photo © Lew Parrela
One of her most famous projects is her home in São Paulo, the Casa de Vidro, a Modernist glass box built on a hill immersed in the tropical forest.
Casa de Vidro (Glass House), São Paulo, with Lina Bo Bardi, 1949-1951. Photo Francisco Albuquerque, 1951, © Arquivo ILBPMB
Casa de Vidro (Glass House) by Lina Bo Bardi, Brazil, São Paulo
Casa de Vidro (Glass House). Photo by ©Henrique Luz. Courtesy of Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi archive
Between 1977 and 1986 she designed the SESC–Fábrica da Pompéia, a giant community, recreational, cultural and sports centre.
Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia. Image Courtesy of The Graham Foundation
Window hole in SESC Pompeia. Photo ©Nelson Kon
Between 1980 and 1994, she worked on the Teatro Oficina, which upended the spatial hierarchies of bourgeois theatre. Lina Bo Bardi’s was the architecture of civil commitment, architecture understood as a collective service, free of the constraints of any school of thought; an architecture that was modern and ancient at the same time, popular, vernacular and cultured, artisanal and not industrial, respectful of tradition but innovative as well. Since her death in 1992, the memory and recognition of her work has been advanced by the Instituto Bardi.
The acknowledgment to Lina Bo Bardi will be celebrated on Saturday May 22nd 2021 during the inauguration ceremony for the Biennale Architettura 2021.
Cover: Lina Bo Bardi, 1960. Photo © Arquivo ILBPMB