João Batista Vilanova Artigas was a Brazilian modernist architect. Born in Curitiba, Artigas is considered one of the most important names in the architectural history of São Paulo, and the founding figure of the Paulista School.
FAU Urbanism and Architecture University technical information
- Architects : Villanova Artigas
- Typology : Educational Architecture / University
- Location : São Paulo, Brasil
- Project Year : 1948
- Material : Concrete
- Photographs : Flickr Fernando Stankuns , FADB y thefuturistics
FAU Urbanism and Architecture University Photographs
THE FAU USP was founded in 1948 in São Paulo, Brazil, based on the architect-engineer course at the Polytechnic School in the University of São Paulo. While the link to engineering was an advantage in the context of the rapid industrialization of the country, to many architects it fostered the perception that architecture was a secondary discipline. This idea was reinforced by a lingering decree from 1933 that defined architecture as a specialization of engineering. To Brazilian architect Vilanova Artigas, this secondary status gave unfair advantage and authority to foreign architects (already favored by the dominance of their standards and measurements) over local professionals.
In 1962, a curriculum reform led by Artigas, Carlos Milan, and Lourival Gomes Machado restructured the school into the departments of Projects, History of Architecture, and Technology of Architecture. The main change was in the Projects department, where the former polytechnic approach of composition was transformed into an expanded understanding of design, including industrial design, planning, and visual communication—an approach Artigas studied in his visit to the United States in 1947, made with the express purpose of observing the implementation of Bauhaus pedagogy in American architecture schools. But for Artigas, the reform went beyond interdisciplinary changes: In his inaugural lesson at the new FAU USP building—which he also designed—he played with the multiple meanings of the word “design” as both form-making and intention, linking it to political change. He maintained the strengthening of the design curriculum was meant to empower the discipline against both its lingering dependency to engineering and the influx of foreign architecture firms—firms whose staff was often trained in the same schools he had visited in the United States.
However, at FAU USP, the curricular reform was presented as another continuation of the original Bauhaus, with no mention of the United States. Such absorption of the strategy of the “intruder” echoes artist Oswald de Andrade’s 1928 Manifesto Antropófago, which claimed that Brazil “cannibalized” stronger cultures in order to resist their cultural domination. By adopting modern architecture pedagogy, the FAU USP sought to resist the totalizing effects of modernity, while simultaneously participating in it. With the rise of the military dictatorship in Brazil, the newly reformed architecture discipline would become the perfect ally for the modern image the regime desired.