This fall, an exhibition of work based on an advanced architecture studio led by Professor Fernando Lara will be on display in São Paulo, Brazil during the 12th annual São Paulo Architecture Biennale, September - December 2019. The project – which took seven University of Texas architecture students to Minas Gerais, Brazil in October 2018 – addresses the relationship between architecture and the resource extraction economy, and presents design ideas to memorialize an environmental tragedy that struck the area in November 2015.
About the Project:
Brazil is experiencing an environmental emergency. The Amazon and Cerrado are being burned to make room for more soy and more cattle; the smoke from which has darkened the skies of São Paulo, 2,000 miles away. In Minas Gerais, two mining tailings dams collapsed on November 5, 2015, dumping 80 million cubic yards of toxic mud into the Rio Doce basin, and killing 19 people and 300 miles of river life all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Architecture and planning have yet to realize that they are an integral part of this perverse economy that destroys all kinds of life for quick profits. Each building is the result of a process that begins with the extraction of clay, limestone, iron ore, silica and wood.
In Fall 2018, students in Fernando Lara’s “Art and Ore” advanced studio visited the site of the Mariana / Bento Rodrigues tragedy to generate design ideas to memorialize the disaster. As part of the process, they looked into the relationship between architecture and the resource extraction industry that supplies its materials. Students were asked to calculate the mineral content of various paradigmatic buildings and the impact of resource extraction on the territory.
The work presented at the 12th São Paulo Architecture Biennial shows four of these buildings, their axonometric drawings floating as ghosts over an aerial photo of the disaster from the day after the dam collapse, with the volume of material and excavation required for construction highlighted in bold. In front of the large board, 4 models built as concrete formwork were filled with mud from the disaster area.
University of Texas architecture students involved in the project include: Julio Roman, Ethan Ryden, Trenton Hartley, Prarthan Shah, Julien Brown, Brad Sir Louis and Kayla Houston. Special thanks to Julien Brown for helping with the exhibition preparation, and to Leticia Brito in Brazil for helping with the models.
The 12th São Paulo International Architecture Biennale kicked off on September 10, 2019 and will continue until December 2019 in São Paulo, Brazil. Curated by Vanessa Grossman, Charlotte Malterre-Barthes and Ciro Miguel, the São Paulo Architecture Biennale seeks to reveal the architecture of everyday life in its different scales under the theme of "Everyday."