Lina Bo Bardi’s Personal Modernism

Lina Bo Bardi’s Personal Modernism

Courtesy Paul Clemence

The controversy about the Pritzker Prize excluding Denise Scott Brown when her partner and husband, Robert Venturi was honored in 1991 has ignited firestorm about the architectural profession as a bastion of white men, still. (The Iraqui-born Dame Zaha Hadid remains the exception on the Pritzker patriarchal pantheon.)

If the female architect is not fully respected today, can you imagine the challenges for a young woman following that career back in the last century? That was the case for Lina Bo Bardi, first in Italy and then in Brazil. A naturalized Brazilian, she did not consider herself a feminist, but with her fearless attitude towards the mostly male-dominated profession, she inspired women everywhere. Her actions, rather than her rhetoric, spoke for her. Bo Bardi was never intimidated. She pushed through preconceived ideas, creating an original body of work that’s experiencing increased recognition in the world of architecture today.

She was born in 1914 in Italy, where she received a degree from the Rome College of Architecture just as Europe became engulfed in World War II. While struggling to set up a practice in wartime, Bo Bardi got involved in publishing, which ultimately led to a main editorial position at the new Domus magazine. After she married Pietro Maria Bardi in 1946, the couple moved to Brazil, where her ideas and work would find fertile ground. Her interpretations of Italian Rationalism would expand to incorporate a respect for the hand crafted and the value of context. Thus she established her very own Modern language in the country that, led by the omnipresent Oscar Niemeyer, was redefining Modernism.

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