Bioclimatic modernism in Mexico, Brazil & India: An overview after Brasilia

R. Tenorio, O. Duncan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The applications of Modernism in tropical countries has been faced with the hindsightquestion of climatic response and cultural adaptation, specifically after the urban experiments of Chandigarh and Brasilia. Modernism was extremely important at the time, as it offered a vision of the future based on a functionalist language, free from colonial associations and of reference to specific religious or ethnic traditions. The generation of architects who followed the developments post Brasilia were faced with the reality that modern architecture was not necessarily the most complete and deterministic response to modern society needs. Consequently, from the 1960's onwards, the development of a highly humanistic and bioclimatic approach to architectural design was triggered. This innovative approach to architecture was unknown prior to and during Modernism. However, if it was acknowledged as an architectural process; it is likely that it was not regarded as a full bioclimatic response to a particular context. The foremost interest of this paper lies on a comparative bioclimatic discussion in the work of well-know recognized architects': Laurie Baker (INDIA), Severiano Porto (BR), F. Gortazar (MX) and Joao Filgueiras Lima (BR). This paper attempts to argue for the significance of Bioclimatic Design as a direct ecological response to the needs of a shifting architecture; an architecture truly adapted to its local climatic conditions, providing for human comfort and catering for reduced energy use. Thus, this 'new' architecture differed greatly from the technocentric views which Modernism prompted at early stages of its development. The importance of this paper lies on the demonstration of the rationale and background of such emerging reactions to functionalism as a bioclimatic approach, and the cross-country lessons learnt about the philosophy and work of the four chosen architects, which are ultimately relevant for the current application of sustainable design. The majority of the existing tools which are currently being used to produce sustainable complex architecture are well established and constantly evolving. Nevertheless, we recognise an urgent demand to minimize the large gaps between practice and academia, art and science; between what is presently known and what is currently done. This enquiry seems to be the urging topic of architectural sustainability. Architectural education after all might indeed have a much bigger role to play in bridging the gaps of sustainable design practices of the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication29th ISES Biennial Solar World Congress 2009, ISES 2009
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event29th Biennial Solar World Congress of the International Solar Energy Society, ISES 2009 - Johannesburg, South Africa
Duration: 11 Oct 200914 Oct 2009


Conference29th Biennial Solar World Congress of the International Solar Energy Society, ISES 2009
Country/TerritorySouth Africa


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