Delving into Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s extensive career, the curators of Constructed Geographies: Paulo Mendes da Rocha present a broad curatorial narrative. Eleven paradigmatic works act as focal points, around which affiliated projects and unbuilt works are seamlessly woven through extensive records.
The heart of the show is a linear and horizontal vitrine, crafted by repurposing glass and table supports from previous exhibitions. This central element orchestrates the exhibition’s layout in a chronological sequence, guiding visitors through the extensive, dimly lit gallery. From preliminary sketches to intricate structural drawings, delicate architectural volume study models, construction photographs, personal snapshots, descriptive narratives, and handwritten notes, this continuous collection offers several pathways for engaging with Mendes da Rocha’s work. The soft lines of his hand-drawings—evident in the profusion of sketches, even in illustrations where the drawing conveys meaning more effectively than a written paragraph—act as a catalyst for his impulse towards motion.
It is this living motion that is unveiled by the eleven projections that define the room’s periphery. Although appearing to be still images, they reveal themselves as static cinematic shots. These projections, not only complement the original materials showcased in the vitrine, but immerse the observer in the architectural atmosphere. Unveiling the presence of the wind, the subtle unfolding of intricate frames within Casa Butantã, and the vibrant life thriving within the SESC 24 de Maio, the large-scale videos by Ciro Miguel and Filipe De Ferrari invite visitors to step into the spaces envisioned by Mendes da Rocha, bridging the experience of the exhibition with the architecture on display. This kinetic force is manifested in the intricate trials of material support and the crystallization of form, giving rise to yet another indication of movement—that of life.
Constructed Geographies: Paulo Mendes da Rocha
Casa da Arquitectura, Matosinhos
curated by Jean-Louis Cohen and Vanessa Grossman
exhibition design by Eduardo Souto de Moura and Nuno Graça Moura, with Carlos Castro