Critical Spatial Practice

Lina & Gio: the last humanists (February – June 2012)
  • Ana Araujo (in the collaboration with Catalina Mejia Moreno) | Architectural Association, London

  • Figure 1, Lina Bo Bardi, Sesc Pompeia Factory, São Paulo. © Inigo Bujedo Aguirre Figure 2, Lina Bo Bardi, Gregório de Matos Theatre, Salvador. © Inigo Bujedo Aguirre Figure 3, Lina & Gio: the last humanists display. Courtesy of the AA Photo Library. Figure 4, Lina & Gio: the last humanists display. Courtesy of the AA Photo Library. Figure 5, Lina & Gio: the last humanists display. Courtesy of the AA Photo Library. Figure 6, Lina & Gio: the last humanists exhibition preview. Courtesy of the AA Photo Library
  • Lina & Gio: the last humanists (February – June 2012)
  • Ana Araujo (in the collaboration with Catalina Mejia Moreno) | Architectural Association, London
  • The exhibition investigated the connections between two well-known designers, the Italo-Brazilian Lina Bo Bardi and her mentor, the Italian architect and designer Gio Ponti. Our aim was to reposition Ponti’s and Bo Bardi’s work as part of an existing architectural and cultural tradition rather than idealizing them as exceptions to the rule, as is established by more conventional historical approaches.

    This exhibition explored for the first time the relationship between two seminal figures in twentieth-century design. Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), best known for the buildings she designed and built in Brazil – the Glass House (1950-51), the Art Museum in São Paulo (1957-68), the Sesc Pompeia (1977-86), amongst others, was a prolific designer, architect, writer and curator, deeply committed to the promotion of the social and cultural potential of architecture. Before adopting Brazil as her home country in the late 1940s, Bo Bardi lived in Milan, where she collaborated with the renowned architect Gio Ponti (1891-1979). Ponti is perhaps better known as the founding editor of the celebrated design magazine Domus. Like Bo Bardi, he was a productive architect, designer, writer and curator, having designed the famous Pirelli Tower in Milan (1950), and collaborated with a number of renowned designers – Piero Fornasetti, Pier Luigi Nervi, amongst others – as well as organizing many editions of the Milan Triennial exhibition of the decorative arts.

    Historians and critics usually label both Ponti and Bo Bardi either as an eccentric modernists or as visionary promoters of the vernacular or the historical, and they usually rate their work as one-off approaches on design. This has the effect of alienating their contribution from conventional, main stream historiography, reserving for them the place of slightly anomalous figures. The exhibition aimed to challenge this vision, placing Bo Bardi’s work in the tradition of humanism, to which Gio Ponti also claimed to belong. In proposing this different perspective on Ponti’s and Bo Bardi’s work we hoped to help legitimize their concerns about the social and cultural role of architecture – and, importantly, their radical aesthetic vision, articulated as a consequence of these concerns – as an intrinsic part of the discipline, rather than as problems architects can choose, or choose not, to address.   


    Dr Ana Araujo is an architect, teacher and researcher. She graduated and practiced in Brazil prior to completing a PhD by Architectural Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, in 2009. As a practicing architect, Ana has specialised mainly on residential projects. As a researcher, she was the curator and designer of the exhibition Lina & Gio: the last humanists, held at the Architectural Association in 2012, exploring the relationship of the work of Italian architect Gio Ponti and Italo-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi. She has lectured and published internationally, including in The Journal of Architecture and a recent book entitled Poetic Biopolitics: Practices of Relation in Architecture and the Arts (ed. Peg Rawes et al, I. B Tauris). Ana has taught in various architecture schools in Brazil and the UK before starting to work as a unit master at the AA in 2010. Her main interests are on the crossovers between architecture, feminism, psychoanalysis, craft and theories of subjectivity. Ana is currently working on a book on American designer Florence Knoll.


    Through my work I try to challenge conventional historical approaches in order to acknowledge characters, tendencies and ways of understanding or interpreting which have been excluded or overlooked. I mostly work through writing or exhibition curating and design. I approach architecture from a multidisciplinary perspective interrogating its role in culture and society, locally and globally. I consider my work as part of a critical spatial practice in the sense that its ultimate aim is to try to broaden the scope of architecture through a contamination from other more inclusive fields such as art and fashion.

    Lina Bo Bardi, Gio Ponti, Humanism, Design, Architecture, curating.


    Rosas, Bartók/Mikrokosmos, 1987 (dance/ choreography,

    Judith Clark, Spectres: when fashion turns back, V&A, 25 February – 8 May 2005

    Amy de la Haye and Valerie D. Mendes, The House of Worth: portrait of an archive 1890-1914, London, V&A, 2014.

    Other projects
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  • Lina & Gio: the last humanists (February – June 2012)
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  • Hustadt project, 2008 – (2011)
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  • Expanded Architecture (2010 – 2014)
  • Unfixing Place: A Study of Istanbul through Topographical Practices (2008)
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