Track 2: Materials over Time: Points of Change

General Abstract

4 - Transformations in Brazilian Vernacular Architecture: Southeast Region

Wednesday, September 26
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Location: HYATT-Grand EFG

In the southeast region of Brazil a new phenomenon has emerged concerning vernacular architecture. In some villages the vernacular traditions are surviving in very specific ways – changes in the aesthetics of the buildings and the way to produce them.
The new sociocultural conditions have led to modifications in the use of these technologies, even from the standpoint of their significance to the local society. This new aesthetic value and social recognition of the vernacular technologies has caused new builders to "expose" the building materials by avoiding the use of plaster as a coating. In other words, if it is an adobe house, the traditional layers of stucco, plaster, or rendering mortar used for finishing are no longer been using so as to make it possible to see the adobe itself.
Collective production, in which the buildings were made by relatives and friends who assisted one another in building the houses, has been replaced by a process in which the materials are sold by local producers and the workers are paid directly for their work.
In this light, this paper will begin with a quick overview of Brazilian Vernacular Architecture, showing the regional differences, the need for more researchers in the field, and how the vernacular tradition of the Southeast Region is connected to this general context. After this introduction, the study will present and compare the findings from two research conducted in two representative villages of this changing vernacular architecture.
The first village is the district of Vitoriano Veloso located in the southern regions of the state of Minas Gerais, near the cities of Prados and Tiradentes, the latter of which is a historic city (National Historic Landmark). Better known by the name of “Bichinho,” this district attracts tourists for its houses built of adobe masonry and its artisanal clay handicrafts.
The second research was conducted in the municipality of São Thomé das Letras, which is located in the southwestern region of Minas Gerais, on top of its namesake mountain range, from which its main economic activity is derived, i.e., the extraction of quartzite rock. The municipality is known for its stone buildings and artisanal stone handicrafts.
In addition to the analysis of the vernacular technology’s transformation process, a peculiar aspect of this process should be highlighted. The two communities have experienced a similar process of vernacular-technology evolution, although with several different material, spatial, social, and cultural characteristics, including those involving different building materials and techniques—both from the point of view of the factors that led to the technology’s survival and the modifications that ensued.

Learning Objectives:

Marco Rezende

Associate professor
Architecture - Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais

Associate Professor at School of Architecture of Minas Gerais Federal University – UFMG, Brazil. Postdoctoral studies (1 year) at Historic Preservation Program, University of Oregon. USA. PhD, Construction Technology, University of São Paulo, Brazil (2003). Teaching, researches and consultancies for 30 years in the fields of historical constructions conservation, history of construction, traditional and historical techniques, vernacular architecture, earth architecture. Author of 17 book chapters and 66 articles in journals and conference proceedings. Full member of International Scientific Committee of Earthen Architecture – ISCEAH of ICOMOS; founder member of Proterra and TerraBrazil networks and coordinator of TerraBrazil network 2016-2017.


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Dean Koga

Building Conservation Associates, Inc.


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4 - Transformations in Brazilian Vernacular Architecture: Southeast Region

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