Paulo Mendes da Rocha Archive to Casa da Arquitectura

John Hill
15. September 2020
Paulo Mendes da Rocha receiving the Golden Lion at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2016 (Photo: John Hill/World-Architects)

The Brazilian architect, who will turn 92 in October, has donated around 10,000 items spanning his 65-year career to the Casa da Arquitectura in Matosinhos, Porto.

With so many important late-20th-century modern architects now in their 80s and 90s, issues of legacy take precedence, be it in the continuation — or not — of a practice or, in this case, the storage and preservation of their drawings, models, and other artifacts. In recent years, the Canadian Centre for Architecture announced the acquisition of the majority of Álvaro Siza's archive, while the Getty Research Institute announced that it acquired documentation of nearly 300 Frank Gehry projects

Now, Casa da Arquitectura is announcing the arrival of the entire Paulo Mendes da Rocha collection, with approximately 6,300 drawings, 3,000 photographs, a set of the architect's own models, and around 300 publications, all documenting more than 300 projects the Pritzker Prize-winning architect designed since he established his firm in São Paulo in 1955. The announcement comes five years after the institution first obtained Mendes da Rocha's documents on the National Coach Museum — his first building in Portugal, it opened in Lisbon in 2015 — and two years after he donated works on seven additional projects.

Generally, architectural archives maintained by institutions have two main benefits: the preservation and digitization of the drawings and other works for posterity, and access to the works through exhibitions and opening up the archives to scholars and researchers. Nuno Sampaio, Casa da Arquitectura's executive director, said the institution is committed to presenting the Mendes da Rocha collection "to the world through its digital platforms and sharing and making available to researchers, students, universities at zero cost, promoting the study, publication and research on this very important work."

Plans are already underway for a monographic exhibition on Mendes da Rocha to open at Casa da Arquitectura in 2022.

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