December 20, 2019 - Frac Centre-Val de Loire - Biennale d'Architecture d'Orléans #2: years of solitude
e-flux Architecture
December 20, 2019
December 20, 2019

Frac Centre-Val de Loire

Exhibition view Dreams seen up close at the Collégiale Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier. Photo: Martin Argyroglo.

Biennale d'Architecture d'Orléans #2
years of solitude
October 11, 2019–January 19, 2020

Collégiale Saint-Pierre-le-Puellier
13 Cloître St Pierre le Puellier
45000 Orléans
Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / #fraccentre / #BAO2

Curators: Abdelkader Damani & Luca Galofaro  

For the second edition of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, we have invited six guest curators to tell tales of solitude from around the world, in places where architecture is still a form of engagement with reality and a “promise” for freedom. 

Des rêves vus de près [Dreams Seen Up Close] looks back on the resistance of the Brazilian group Arquitetura Nova confronting the Brazilian dictatorship (1964–1985).

Dreams seen up close
Monograph dedicated to Arquitetura Nova
Associated curator: Davide Sacconi

Between 1961 and 1971 the intense collaboration between Sérgio Ferro, Flávio Imperio and Rodrigo Lefèvre—later labelled Arquitetura Nova—produced an exceptional body of work: experiments in painting, theatre, pedagogy, building techniques and construction site organisation that aimed at reinventing the role of the architect within a Brazil under construction.

Having experienced firsthand the brutal labour conditions behind the soft curves of Brasilia, Sérgio Ferro, Flávio Imperio and Rodrigo Lefèvre rejected both the false hope of industrialization and the deception of a free, open and democratic aesthetic promised by Modernism. Instead, Arquitetura Nova challenged the very idea of development by embracing the existing condition of production and subverting the hierarchies of the construction site. Blurring the boundaries between designing and constructing, drawing and acting, learning and teaching, Arquitetura Nova reclaimed the rationalization and sharing of popular construction techniques as an instrument against the exploitation and alienation of the construction worker. Building became the construction of a possible life together. Dreams seen up close but definitely turned impossible after the military coup of 1964, which made of large-scale development, urban growth and violent repression the cornerstones of the Brazilian State of the following two decades.

The work of Arquitetura Nova will be showcased for the first time ever in a selection of drawings, images and texts from the archives of FAU USP (Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo), IEB (Institute of Brazilian Studies) and the personal archive of Sérgio Ferro. However the exhibition transcends the historical dimension of the work to interrogate the value of the Arquitetura Nova’s approach vís-a-vís the current Brazilian and global politico-economic condition. From this perspective, the abrupt end of Arquitetura Nova with the imprisonment of Sérgio and Rodrigo in 1971 finds a counterpoint in the collection of artworks produced in the atelier organised by Sérgio Ferro during the imprisonment. The atelier’s desire to radically reform construction practices is echoed in the work of Usina_Ctah, an NGO of architects that have supported the housing movements in the construction of cooperative housing since 1990. Together, they reaffirm the urgency of rethinking the hierarchies under which we work and live.

Contact communication: Marine Bichon,

Frac Centre-Val de Loire
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years of solitude
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