One particular landmark stands out on the “Aterro do Flamengo” in Rio de Janeiro, the urban park orchestrated by Burle Marx and Affonso Reidy, landscape designer and architect.
The Museum of Modern Art (also known as M.A.M.) designed by Affonso Eduardo Reidy naturally found its place in the park. The program called for a complex building, with a museum, but also a theatre, an art school and a luxury restaurant. Reidy divided the functions under different blocks, treated as three separate autonomous bodies. With the school and restaurant grouped under the same block. The body of the museum occupies a central place in the composition. The structure he used here is a scissor structure, as they call it, placed every ten meters, borrowed from his earlier project for the Paraguai-Brasil school. It allows for the complete transparency of the building on the ground floor and uninterrupted view of the bay. Panorama respect and integration were primordial in this project. The structure not only worked well with the contextual side of the project, it also allowed for large open spaces, very well adapted for the organization of large expositions.
The first floor is a completely open plan resting on stilts, while the second floor is suspended by metallic rods, and doesn’t completely overlap the floor beneath it. Games of voids and solid are created, accentuated by overhead lightning, and creating continuity between spaces. The functional necessities are in perfect symbioses with the plastic expression of the building. We can clearly see the evolution from the school. Here, the project is more rooted on the ground. The apparent simplicity of the building masks the structural complexity and dispositions done for it to appear so. The structure for instance is composed of several elements, but forms monolithic whole, and so carefully thought it seems natural. A patio connects the museum with the secondary services, with a completely open restaurant offering a magnificent view to the visitor. Different gateways connect the blocks between them, surrounded by hanging gardens done by Burle Marx. It’s a good compromise with the nature as well as the urban environment, where the imposition of Reidy’s architectural style cohabitates perfectly with Burle Marx’ gardens.
In Reidy’s architecture, the functional necessities are in perfect symbioses with the plastic expression of the building. In the museum, he perfectly associated the programmatic necessities of a museum within the core structure and plastic expression. This research started with the Paraguai-Brasil school, where a similar structure was developed. Some say the museum is less original, because of its rigidity; but this is a work that matured over the years, this is personal growth clearly characterized. Some of the other works done in the park are of incredible plastic purity. Such as the little covered yard, where not all is purely functional. With the kids pavilion the roof is made by inverting cylinders, almost in a naïve way. Never the less, all of his work retains an extreme coherence, based on the respect of a number of basic rules and spans from 1930 to 1964, date of his premature death. His first works, extremely rational, suffered from a very stiff plastic expression. Later, heavily influenced by Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, we can see evolution in his architecture. Reidy wasn’t the inventor of form, but knew how to take advantage of the new vocabulary, with logic, taste and coherence. We could situate his architecture in between the revolutionary imagination of Oscar Niemeyer and the conservative expression of Lucio Costa. He didn’t compete with the creative 9. Model of the museum complex genius of Niemeyer, but knew when to use his discoveries. Affonso Reidy always preserved his gauge without losing track of his capacity. It’s an architecture that can be qualified as modest, for its time not out of reach and incredibly realistic.