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Autonomy and historiography in Lantin America: architecture, education and the historical narrative in the Escuelita of Buenos Aires, 1976/1983

Grant number: 16/22985-7
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2017
Effective date (End): June 30, 2020
Field of knowledge:Applied Social Sciences - Architecture and Town Planning - Fundamentals of Architecture and Urbanism
Principal researcher:José Tavares Correia de Lira
Grantee:Jonas Delecave de Amorim
Home Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo (FAU). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):18/09282-2 - Buenos Aires and the discipline of architecture: an international network of history and theory, from 1976 to 1983, BE.EP.DR

Abstract

This doctoral research explores the architectural teaching experience known as La Escuelita, developed between 1976 and 1983 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On the one hand, this experience came in response to local political and academic changes and, on the other, to the deep disciplinary crises that architecture was internationally going through, in the 1960s and 1970s. In Argentina, the period in which La Escuelita was develop corresponds to the last dictatorship, preceded by a short democratic period. The local context of major conflicts, and its consequences in the academic environment, contributed to the dissolving of architecture teaching in political activism. Internationally, the Buenos Aires experience was influenced by the recognition of the limits of a strict functionalism, the broader incorporation of history in architectural design and the rise of different historiographical paradigms.In this research, we recognize two key issues developed in La Escuelita. The first was the quest for anchoring architecture in its own discipline, excluding political and functional issues as a way to return to its supposed fundamentals: drawing, architectural typology and urban morphology. This search was developed in La Escuelita by architects and professors Antonio Diaz, Justo Solsona, Rafael Viñoly and Ernesto Katzenstein, all of whom established close ties with the work of Aldo Rossi and New York's Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies. The work of these architects can be condensed in the concept of the architectural autonomy.The second key issue relates to an inflection in the history of architecture, carried out by young historians around Jorge Francisco Liernur. These historians had incorporated different historiographical approaches, developed by scholars such as Michel Foucault, Carlo Ginzburg and Raymond Williams. However, were of particular importance the role of Manfredo Tafuri's work and the intense dialogue they had established with the intellectuals of the Punto de Vista magazine. Uncompromised by design practice, La Escuelita historians could incorporate different cultural, political and economic events in the historical narrative of architecture. As central themes, they developed the notions of modernity in Latin America, particularly in Buenos Aires.In these two issues, La Escuelita establishes a contemporary dialogue with two of the most important poles of architectural culture -New York and Venice -, incorporating and transforming its fundamental concepts. However, by focusing their investigations in Latin America - something overlooked by European and American circles - La Escuelita developed original researches, with thematic and methodological developments. In fact, many of these issues in the Buenos Aires experience, as the disciplinary crisis and the dilemmas of historic narrative in architecture, were shared in other Latin American scenarios, although in different ways. This research aims to explore these issues in an attempt to clarify the role of La Escuelita in Latin American architectural culture, establishing a stronger link between the history of architecture and history of its teaching.

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