Lucio Costa’s family entrusted to Casa da Arquitectura – Portuguese Centre for Architecture (CA), the estate of the Brazilian architect and urban planner, a reference figure in world architecture.
“It is an honour and a distinction for CA to welcome the heritage of this unique modernism figure”, considers the institution’s President, José Manuel Dias da Fonseca, seconded by Executive Director, Nuno Sampaio: “This donation carries a huge responsibility and the commitment of Casa da Arquitectura to treat, archive and promote the study of such a remarkable collection”.
The assets includes around 11 000 simple documents, a set of documents produced and accumulated between 1910 and 1998, related to the activities carried out by Lucio Costa in the field of architecture, either as a liberal professional or as director of the Division of Studies and Listing of Historic Landmarks, of the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Service (SPHAN), today the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (IPHAN).
In addition to the professional trajectory, the collection reflects personal and family experiences, comprising different kinds of documents, such as correspondence, newspaper articles, clippings, magazines, posters, photographs, family albums, postcards, maps, plans, sketches, drawings and notes in the most diverse supports such as envelopes, back of calendars, draft sheets or business cards, for example.
Lucio Costa’s passage through Portugal
The collection is composed and organized by different themes, from Personal References (family and life story), Projects (Architecture, Urbanism, Landscaping, Interiors, Scripts (exhibitions and cinema), other activities (teaching, national historical and artistic heritage, congresses and conferences, drawing and painting), Written Works (essays, articles, statements), Correspondence, Photographic Records, Publications and academic works on Lucio Costa and other diverse publications. There is also a wide range of photographic and videographic records of a personal and family nature, epistolary correspondence between Lucio Costa and Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, including original drawings signed and offered by Le Corbusier.
Five sketch and note books, totalling 305 pages, stand out from the document set, documenting Lucio’s trips to Portugal, in 1948 and 1952.
Regarding Architecture and Urbanism, Lucio Costa developed several public and private, civil and religious, projects, including houses, churches, museums, embassies, hotels, pavilions, parks and furniture.
Projects such as the Brasilia’s Plano Piloto stand out in the collection, with pre-competition texts and drawings and the elements later delivered by Lucio Costa, but also Casa do Brasil, in Paris, the Jockey Club in Rio de Janeiro, the Mission Museum, the Brazil Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, among many others.
Casa da Arquitectura commitment
CA is committed to maintaining the uniqueness of the estate, ensuring conservation and diffusion through its Digital Platform, which will be launched shortly. All documentation is now being processed and scanned. For the purposes of investigation and study, Casa also makes available high-resolution images, promoting research and the development of knowledge about the work of the Brazilian architect.
Casa is responsible for preserving the collection in the best conditions in its five archive areas and will manage the lending policy of several elements for multiple uses – exhibitions, publications, and other forms of dissemination of the work. Casa also undertakes to keep accessible the physical supports that can be consulted at Casa da Arquitectura by previous appointment.
In 2019, Casa da Arquitectura created a Studies and Documentation Centre to promote and encourage the investigation of collections, namely, research grants in partnership with the Portuguese State and also with public and private institutions, national and foreign.
Lucio Costa biography
Lucio Marçal Ferreira Ribeiro de Lima e Costa, known as Lucio Costa, was born in 1902, in Toulon, France, and died in 1998, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Son of Admiral Joaquim Ribeiro da Costa. Due to his father’s work, he spent much of his childhood traveling. He studied at the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle, England and at the Collège National in Montreux, Switzerland.
Between 1922 and 1929, he kept an architecture office, in partnership with Fernando Valentim. After the Revolution of 1930, he was appointed director of ENBA, by Rodrigo Melo Franco de Andrade.
Between 1931 and 1933, he partnered Warchavchik to carry out important projects such as the Gamboa Residential Complex and the Alfredo Schwartz Residence, 1932. In 1935-1936, he was invited by Minister Gustavo Capanema to design the project for the new headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health – MES, a task in which he prefers to work in association with a group of young architects: Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Carlos Leão, Jorge Moreira, Ernani Vasconcelos and Oscar Niemeyer, coordinated by Le Corbusier. This building, as well as the Brazil Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair (designed in partnership with Niemeyer), and the Pampulha buildings, is considered the inaugural landmark of modern Brazilian architecture, being the first skyscraper in the world to fully realize the “five points of modern architecture” conceived by Le Corbusier.
In 1937, he began working as director of the Division of Studies and Listing of Historic Landmarks – DET, of the National Historical and Artistic Heritage Service – SPHAN, created that year. He was responsible for the definition of criteria and norms for classification, analysis, and classification of the Brazilian architectural heritage, as well as the definition of criteria for intervention in historic centres. Additionally, there is the project for the Mission Museum, inside the archaeological site of São Miguel, in Rio Grande do Sul. This historiographical interpretation is consolidated with the texts written in the following decades, such as “Considerações sobre a Arte Contemporânea”, 1940s and “Muita Construção, alguma Arquitetura e um Milagre”, 1951. In 1957, he won the National Contest for the Brasília Plano-Piloto, the new capital of Brazil, inaugurated on 21April, 1960*.
*Source: LUCIO Costa. In: ENCICLOPÉDIA Itaú Cultural de Arte e Cultura Brasileiras. São Paulo: Itaú Cultural, 2018.