Modernization and Architecture in Latin America

The North and South American continents have been the natural sites of the \”new.\” Because of its particular history during the Twentieth Century, Latin America has offered little resistance to the most radical architectural and urban ideas. According to Perry Anderson, in Latin America, as in Europe, \”three coordinates of modernism\” have determined a trend toward \”natural\” development and an expansion of \”modern architecture.\” They are: (1) the persistence of an old, aristocratic social structure; (2) a scarce diffusion of Taylorism; and (3) the concept of \”social revolution\” as an open possibility. In this course, we will discuss expressions of modernization in Latin American architecture and urban development. We will focus on the autonomy and heteronomy of the regional architectural and urban development processes and propositions, and their relationship to international debates on modernism. We will discuss qualities of representative buildings, projects, and architectural theories, and examine how those qualities reflect specific artistic, political, and social conditions. Special attention will be paid to the differences in modern architectural expressions between the many countries and cultural communities that compose \”Latin America\” – a designation that is much too general. The course will follow a chronological order, starting with the beginning of modernization in the second half of the Nineteenth Century and ending with the current time.Among other topics, we will study the first architectural consequences of modernization in the late Nineteenth Century; the search for new architectural languages; the main expressions of Modern Art; the revolutionary processes in Mexico, Brazil, and Cuba; the role of the most relevant masters (e.g., Le Corbusier, Mies Van der Rohe, Josi Luis Sert); the work of exiles figures (e.g., Hammes Meyer, Lina Bo Bardi, Max Cetto); city plans; contributions to brutalism and regionalism; the housing question; and contemporary trends.