We have been looking at Lina Bo Bardi’s work and wanted to dedicate a post to her community and cultural centre in Sao Paolo.
Lina Bo Bardi (1914-92) was an influential Brazilian architect of Italian descent, and the architect behind the SESC Pompeia (1977-86) a dynamic adaptive reuse of a steel barrel factory in a traditionally working class area.
The original factory, saved from demolition by the not-for-profit organisation SESC, was used informally for the 4 years before the redevelopment for community sports and children’s activities, and it was this occupation of the space that grounded Bardi’s direction throughout the project.
Built over a period of 9 years, beginning with the refurbishment of the existing factory building - the ‘General Activities Pavilion’, which housed a wonderfully rich mixture of facilities from ceramic painting, cabinet making, typography, engraving and tapestry ateliers to exhibition rooms, a library with ‘reading slabs for reading, studying or playing board games’, an auditorium and restaurant. This was followed by the three new-build tower structures; the first consists of several stacked sports courts and a swimming pool, connected by aerial walkways to circulation tower, which also houses dance studios and a cafe. The third, a slender water tower, references the site’s industrial past and has become a landmark for the project.
Pompeia engenders a joy in both the human and urban scale, modernism and tradition, and pursues Bardi’s assertion that ‘culture is a fact of everyday reality’. It is an unparalleled example of an active, vibrant public interior that speaks of ‘freedom, democracy and social integration’1.
1. Z. R. M. de A. Lima, Lina Bo Bardi, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 2013, p.174