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José Miguel Rojas

(b San José, June 1, 1907; d 1998).

Costa Rican engraver, painter, illustrator, draughtsman, writer and critic. He studied for a year from 1931 at the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes but was otherwise initially self-taught, using Louis Gonse’s L’Art japonais (Paris, 1883) as a source. He produced a series of caricature drawings, influenced by Cubism, in the Album de dibujos de 1926. During 1929 he met the sculptors Juan Manuel Sánchez and Francisco Zúñiga (the latter was also a printmaker), and through his interest in German and Mexican Expressionist printmakers, he developed a passion for wood-engraving. His first wood-engravings were published in the periodical Repertorio Americano (1929). He went on to contribute wood-engravings and drawings to collections of short stories and poetry, educational books, periodicals and newspapers. In 1931 he taught drawing and wood-engraving at the Escuela Normal in Heredia. He exhibited at the Salones Anuales de Artes Plásticas in San José (1931–6...


Kathryn O'Rourke and Ramón Vargas

(b Mexico City, Mar 29, 1915; d Mexico City, May 25, 1959).

Mexican architect, theorist, and writer, of Japanese descent. The son of a Japanese ambassador in Mexico, he studied philosophy, espousing neo-Kantianism and becoming politically a socialist. He became a supporter of Functionalism, with its emphasis on the social applications of architecture, and was a founder, with Enrique Yañez, of the Unión de Arquitectos Socialistas (1938), helping to draw up a socialist theory of architecture. He was one of the most active participants in the Unión and attempted to put his socialist theory into practice on two unexecuted projects in the same year: the building for the Confederación de Trabajadores de México and the Ciudad Obrera de México, both with Enrique Guerrero and Raúl Cacho. Later, when Mexico opted for a developmental policy, Arai became a standard-bearer for nationalism in architecture. He re-evaluated traditional building materials, such as tree trunks, bamboo, palm leaves, and lianas, using them in a plan for a country house that was adapted to the warm, damp climate of the Papaloapan region. The building of the Ciudad Universitaria, Mexico City, gave him his greatest architectural opportunity when he designed the Frontones (...


(b Curitiba, June 23, 1915; d São Paulo, Jan 6, 1985).

Brazilian architect, teacher and writer. He graduated as an engineer–architect from the Escola Politécnica of the University of São Paulo (1937) and became a partner in the design and construction firm Marone & Artigas. In his earliest projects he sought to move away from the academic electicism that dominated São Paulo at the time, and his first projects were influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright; for example, the Rio Branco Paranhos house (1943) was clearly inspired by Wright’s prairie houses. In 1944 he opened his own design office in São Paulo; he was increasingly influenced by the rationalist modernism of Le Corbusier that began to spread from Rio de Janeiro and often used pilotis, brises-soleil and roof gardens at this time, as in the Louveira block of flats (1948) and the Mario Bittencourt house (1949), São Paulo, and the bus station (...


Brian Austen


(b ?Sheffield, 1785; d Port of Spain, Trinidad, Nov 1846).

English sculptor, designer and architect. In 1810 he exhibited at the first Liverpool Academy Exhibition and showed models and drawings there in 1811, 1812 and 1814. These included designs for the restoration of the screen in Sefton church, Merseyside, and for a chimney-piece for Speke Hall, Liverpool, and two drawings of Joseph Ridgway’s house at Ridgmont, Horwich, Lancs. Bridgens designed furniture and furnishings in Gothic and Elizabethan styles for George Bullock. In 1814 he moved to London with Bullock, using his address at 4 Tenterden Street, Hanover Square, and prepared designs for Sir Godfrey Vassal Webster (1789–1836) for improvements to Battle Abbey, E. Sussex, and similarly for Sir Walter Scott’s home, Abbotsford House, at Melrose on the Borders. Two chair designs for Battle Abbey were published in Rudolph Ackermann’s Repository of Arts in September 1817, and Bridgens was also involved in the design of chairs supplied to Abbotsford House in ...


Xavier Moyssén


(b Koblenz, Feb 20, 1903; d Mexico City, Apr 5, 1980).

Mexican architect, architectural historian, and teacher, of German birth. He studied at the technical universities of Darmstadt, Munich, and Berlin. At the latter he studied with Hans Poelzig, graduating as an engineer–architect in 1926. In 1927 he took part in the plan for the headquarters of the League of Nations in Geneva, and he was a founder-member of CIAM. He moved to San Francisco, CA, in 1938, where he worked in the studio of Richard Neutra. He settled in Mexico in 1939 and became a naturalized Mexican in 1947. As well as having a natural affinity with Mexico, he was able to incorporate his European experiences into what he built there. The respect for nature he had learned from Neutra is evident in his handling of the volcanic terrain of the Jardines del Pedregal, Mexico City, where he collaborated with Luis Barragán, constructing various houses amid the impressive scenery of the place without disturbing the volcanic lava or the vegetation. He also showed skill and great sensitivity in using the materials and techniques of the region. Notable examples of his work there are his own house (...


Sylvia Ficher

(b Toulon, Feb 27, 1902; d Rio de Janeiro, July 13, 1998).

Brazilian architect, urban planner, architectural historian, teacher and writer of French birth. Son of Brazilian parents, he moved to Brazil in 1917 and entered the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, graduating as an architect in 1923. From 1922 he worked with Fernando Valentim, adopting the style favoured by the Traditionalist movement, which took its inspiration from 18th-century Brazilian colonial architecture in an attempt to develop a national style. He designed several houses and won two important competitions, both with neo-colonial designs: the Brazilian Pavilion at the International Exhibition (1925) in Philadelphia, and the headquarters of the Argentine Embassy (1928), Rio de Janeiro (neither of which was built).

In December 1930, following the installation of the new revolutionary government in November, Costa was appointed to direct the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio and to reform its teaching system. At first his nomination was seen as a victory for the supporters of the neo-colonial style over the academics, but Costa broke with both and created a course, given by specially invited Modernist teachers including ...


Mónica Martí Cotarelo


(b Sauceda, Zacatecas, Sept 2, 1862; d Aguascalientes, 1945).

Mexican architect and sculptor. He was self-taught and studied engravings, photographs, and the treatises of Vitruvius and Jacopo Vignola. His artistic production was consequently highly original and fitted into the pattern of contemporary eclecticism and Mexican neo-Baroque. In 1876–81 he worked on the railways of Zacatecas, where he learnt to calculate the resistance of materials and came to appreciate the architectural potential of iron. His interest in traditional Mexican architecture, its conservation and interpretation, is evident in his design (1919), which was only partly constructed, for the completion of the 18th-century façade and the towers of the sanctuary of Guadalupe in Aguascalientes. This harmonizes successfully with the building as a whole and the imaginative qualities of Mexican Baroque. The church of San Antonio (1908) in Aguascalientes exemplifies Reyes’s spontaneously eclectic architecture. The dome of the crossing is the most complex feature, where Reyes achieved a disconcerting feeling of weightlessness. It has a double circular drum, with the lower part, of smaller diameter, composed solely of a triple row of supporting Doric columns. He had a considerable practice in Aguascalientes, where he built the Banco Nacional de México (...


Maria Concepción García Sáiz

(b Medina Sidonia, 1577; d Mexico, 1652).

Spanish architect and writer, active in Mexico. After a first visit to America in 1593, when he was shipwrecked, he returned there permanently in 1596, entering the Order of Discalced Carmelites in Mexico City (1600). From 1606 he was occupied with the construction and repair of many buildings belonging to the Order. Between 1606 and 1611 he supervised the building, to his own design, of S Desierto de Cuajimalpa, Puebla, a timber-roofed oratory surrounded by six hermit cells (destr.). In 1608 he continued work on the Carmelite convent in Mexico City, begun in 1602 to the plans of Alonso Pérez de Casatañeda (fl c. 1573). In 1615 he began the convent of S Angel, Mexico City, which was mostly completed in the following year, although the barrel-vaulted church was not built until 1622–4. Between 1618 and 1629 he worked in the Carmelite convents of Querétaro, Celaya (destr.) and Valladolid (destr.), and others have been attributed to him in Puebla and Atlixco (Puebla). He inspected the drainage of Mexico City (...


Argentinian, 20th century, male.

Born 1936, in Buenos Aires.


Hector Saunier studied architecture, composition and colour theory with H. Cartier; then he studied engraving with S.W. Hayter in Studio 17 in Paris. From 1963 to 1965 he went to England and now lives and works in Paris. He shows work in collective exhibitions, including the ...


Ramón Vargas

(b Mexico City, Sept 22, 1901; d Mexico City, June 10, 1982).

Mexican architect, teacher and theorist. He graduated in 1923 from the Academia de S Carlos, Mexico City. There his teachers, many of whose professional careers had coincided with the dictatorial regime (1876–1910) of General Porfirio Díaz, emphasized the virtues of nationalism and modernity in architecture. At the time of Villagrán’s graduation, however, the Mexican Revolution had just ended, and the great transformation of the country’s social life was just beginning, in which architecture was to play an important part through the provision of an infrastructure of schools and hospitals as well as low-cost housing. It was in the medical field that Villagrán began his career, designing the Instituto de Higiene y Granja Sanitaria (1925–7) in Mexico City, which in the shape of its isolated pavilions represented a break with the architecture of the past. The hospital was also carefully planned to meet the specific clinical demands of the medical advisers who acted as architectural consultants. The result was a synthesis of the aesthetic and the functional that was emblematic of the ‘integralism’ of ...


Teresa Gisbert

(b La Paz, Nov 28, 1884; d La Paz, May 14, 1970).

Bolivian engineer, architect, urban planner and writer. He qualified as an engineer in Chile in 1907, pursued an academic career to become Dean of the Faculty of Science and Rector of the Universidad Boliviana Mayor de ‘San Andrés’, La Paz, and served as Minister for Education after World War I. In 1943 he founded the School of Architecture in the Universidad de La Paz, the first in Bolivia other than the short-lived school begun by Philippe Bertrés and José Núñez del Prado in the 1830s. Brought up in the aura of French academicism, Villanueva produced buildings in the 1920s and 1930s in that style; the Banco Central de Bolivia (1926), La Paz, is an example. Buildings such as his Alcadía Municipal (1925), La Paz, with its 17th-century French influence, and the Hospital General (1916–25), in the Miraflores district of La Paz, however, show greater eclecticism. Thereafter Villanueva worked towards a national architecture based on the ancient Pre-Columbian culture of Tiahuanaco, of which the monolithic architecture and characteristic sculpture inspired his Stadium in La Paz (...


Regina Maria Prosperi Meyer

revised by Helena Bender

(b Odessa, Apr 2, 1896; d São Paulo, Jul 27, 1972).

Brazilian architect of Russian birth. He studied at the Odessa School of Art (1912), in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), resuming his education at the Reggio Istituto Superiore di Belle Arti (1918–1920) in Rome, Italy. After graduating, Warchavchik worked for Italian architect Marcello Piacentini, assisting in the design of economic housings and the Teatro Savoia’s construction in Florence (1922–1923). In 1923 he moved to São Paulo to work for the Companhia Construtora de Santos (1923–1926), establishing a private office in 1927. Maintaining his work in São Paulo, Warchavchik associated himself with Lucio Costa between 1932 and 1933. He also helped Costa to renovate the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, working as a professor of architectural composition (1930–1932). Additionally, Warchavchik was the first Latin American delegate of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) from 1930 to 1933. Warchavchik was an avant-garde architect in Brazil. He designed and built the first modern houses and published the first manifesto on modern architecture in the country....


(b Mexico City, Jun 17, 1908; d Mexico City, Nov 24, 1990).

Mexican architect, writer, and theorist. He was a member of the Escuela Mexicana de Arquitectura, a group that from 1925 onwards sought to create an architecture that simultaneously expressed nationalism and modernity. Within this group, which was led by José Villagrán García, Yañez, with Juan O’Gorman and Juan Legorreta, represented the socialist tendency. In 1938, with Alberto T. Arai, Enrique Guerrero, Raúl Cacho, Carlos Leduc, and Ricardo Rivas, Yañez formed the Unión de Arquitectos Socialistas, which had a significant influence on Mexican architecture. Their approach was characterized by an emphasis on the utilitarian and social aspects of architecture, for example the reduction of spaces to a bare minimum, and by a rejection of “bourgeois” aesthetics. Nevertheless, Yañez’s own house (1935) and the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas Building (1938) have a certain rhythmic plasticity, albeit rationalist and sparse. Later, still in the context of developing a “nationalist functionalism,” Yañez became one of the foremost designers of hospitals in Mexico. He won the competition for the construction of the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social’s first hospital and designed the most important hospital complex in Mexico, the Centro Médico Nacional (...