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interview ISSN 2175-6708


Os professores Gabriela Celani e Rafael Urano entrevistam os alemães Tobias Walisser e Oliver Tessmann para o portal Vitruvius.

Professors Gabriela Celani and Rafael Urano interview Tobias Walisser and Oliver Tessmann for the Vitruvius portal.

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CELANI, Gabriela; URANO, Rafael . Chat with Tobias Walisser and Oliver Tessmann. Entrevista, São Paulo, year 18, n. 069.01, Vitruvius, feb. 2017 <>.

Oliver Tessmann e Tobias Walisser na Praça das Artes, São Paulo
Foto divulgação

Gabriela Celani: Tobias and Oliver, this is your first time in São Paulo, right? What was your first impression of the city?

Tobias Walisser: It's an amazing experience when you arrive late at night by plane and it takes quite a while to reach the city. We went straight to the 29th floor of the Copan building, what a fantastic view. There's a lot of pollution in the air, which makes the city glow at night, which together with all the noises creates the atmosphere of avery vibrant city. We had the same impression today on our tour which took us to a couple of places that we knew from architectural history and from publications. It's great to see how this is not only a big city butalso a very lively city; there are  people everywhere andfairs going on. It's a city with a lot of different neighborhoods but also with a lot of different activities. For me, the most beautiful thing about cities is that you have this diversity and simultaneity of different things.

Oliver Tessmann: The sound of the 29th floor of Copan opening the window and looking at something that looks like a forest or an endless sea of light... the sound comes up all the way to the high-rise. That's very impressive. From walking around in the city I see a certain contradiction. On one hand all these private houses being fenced off; people want to secure themselves from the public space. But then, from today's tour, I'm very impressed to see the openness of the buildings, and to see this gradient between being outside and entering a building – that's something we would never have in Germany because of the climate. There's always an envelope that defines the inside and the outside. And here this is a gradient and it's  an architectural topic to work with that gradient. We know those buildings from the books, but in architectural photography there is usually no people and today it was impressive to see people using the buildings, the public spaces, and see so many different faces.

TW: The modern architecture here is very well-known for the use of concrete, but what I really found absolutely exciting is that it is just a tool or a technique to express the desire of having buildings which are open for everyone, buildings that can house large spaces, spans that produce the openness that Oliver just described. You have the landscape and then you have a straight bar which is the building and that is opposing the technological with nature, but at the same time putting the two in a very balanced harmony. The most impressive thing when you come here is that this is not a piece of art, art as being something static and a means in itself, but this is for people inhabiting it. Especially Lina Bo Bardi's cultural center was an amazing space, where you really have the feeling that this is not just done as a good piece of architecture but this is something that is appreciated by a variety of different people; it's open for everyone, it can be enjoyed in totally different ways, whether if it's for sports or if they do a crafts class, or they come for a performance or you just want to drink a coffee. It's a place that offers a bath in the sun... there's a "beach"... there's no water but the feeling of the beach is there and people are actually enjoying it and that's fantastic to see. And the Burle-Marx park and Niemeyer's architecture, where we also had the feeling that no matter how old you are and whether you use roller-skates or a bike or a car, you just want to sit down and enjoy the pleasant afternoon. Everyone can participate... It is amazing to think that this vision must have been the inspiration for people to cast their dreams in concrete, to define a technical way to create these spaces for other people to enjoy. You really need to have a vision, you really need to have a strong belief in something that you can contribute to the development of society to be able to develop spaces like this. Nowadays so many people are concerned about making things technically possible, but they never ask the question "what do we want to achieve?", "why are we doing this?" and "who's going to benefit from it?". This is what's really great to feel in these places is that you can come up with a much more interesting and more vibrant architecture if you start with these questions in the beginning and then everything else comes from that.

OT: I think there is a very mechanical view of modernist architecture in Europe. Le Corbusier and his Maison Dominó stand for the separation of functional units in a modernist building. Columns carry the loads, walls create space and the envelope becomes the climate barrier. Building becomes a machine made out of systems and subs- systems.

And here you see that there are structures that carry the loads and at the same time they are sculptures. And you cannot really differentiate between the structural system, the ornament, and the sculpture. The load bearing system is also structuring space.

GC: We also went to Praça das Artes...

TW: We only got to see the ground floor, but today it wasn't as lively as it should be...

GC: It was closed...

TW: But it's an interesting way to insert a new builidng into the neighborhood, and this neighborhood definitely needs something that puts life back into it. So, from that point it's actually good to place something quite modern but also something that from an urban point of view really tries to integrate the surroundings and plays with the old buildings.

Rafael Urano: And what did you already know about Brazilian architecture, prior to coming here?

OT: There is this wonderful book called Concrete and Culture, by Adrian Forty. It talks about the way concrete is used in Japan and it compares it to how it's used in Brasil. I think what I learned today is that there are two different schools here: the Sao Paulo school and the Rio school, and Adrian Forty talks about the Rio school... concrete as a way to build membranes... very thin shells, like in the lamellas of the Copan building. From the European point of view that is what we first associate with Brazilian architecture.  Seeing Sao Paulo today I can feel a strong relation to Swiss concrete architecture. The way the material is treated and cast into construction systems is more Christian Kerez than Heinz Isler

RU: Do you know they are friends? Kerez and the younger Sao Paulo architects. But also Luigi Snozzi and Paulo Mendes da Rocha... they all understand each other and the architecture that they do.

OT: Even without knowing that connection you see it from the buildings.

TW: From an European point of view this is a young country where there was suddenly the need for architecture to contribute to nation building and to create icons or manifestos for the new society and for the state.  It starts of course with the capital which you built... a completely new capital with a lot of modern buildings and buildings that really define an era... which became icons not only for the country but also of a certain era of architecture. That is fascinating to experience... not  in photographs but standing inside the real buildings, understanding the logic behind it, how it works with the climate conditions... Sao Paulo is a city with certain neighborhoods which we couldn't refer to anything we have seen somewhere else. Certain parts are absolutely unique and that's because the architecture creates a bridge between a certain history and a desire for a certain future.


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original: português

outros: english




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