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2016 MCHAP

Structural Archeology

Carlos M. Teixeira

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

October 2015


Vazio S/A


Leonardo Augusto Rodrigues (Associate architect) Daila Coutinho Araujo (Associate architect) Frederico Almeida (Architecture intern)


Cine Theatro Brasil Vallourec


Gabriel Castro


Structural Archeology sought to activate this unused space, coating the roof framework with a translucent screen, and turning the bleak void into an active room. Articulated as a structural archeology exercise, the proposal revisits and recalls the original 1932 architectural design, and recovers the stepped ceiling which once covered the audience. Timber tableaux were installed over the supporting beams, bringing the experience and the values of a livable space that now works as an enabler of events.


Owner of the title of Brazil’s largest cinema for a few years, Cine Theatro Brasil was built in 1932 at an important intersection in the Center of Belo Horizonte. Heavy and elegant at once, its Art Déco volume was one of the largest buildings in the city. It was followed in the 1950s by two other iconic buildings built in the same intersecction: Banco Lavoura (Álvaro Vital Brazil, 1950) and Banco Mineiro (Oscar Niemeyer, 1953). The building once played an important role in the city's cinema and visual arts programme, and represented a benchmark reference in the planning development of the young capital. In 1936, it housed the first Modernist exhibition in Belo Horizonte, indicating its vocation to the forefront and to experimentation. Several uses have taken place in its rooms facing the corner streets, from a popular restaurant to a barbershop - inaugurated by Juscelino Kubitschek -, leaving impregnated traces and remnants of history in its constructive elements. In a recent conversion of the cinema into a cultural center, a huge ballroom was built above the old roof, which generated a great architectural void between the sloped ceiling of the audience and the slab of the new ballroom. Within this void, the original concrete framework of the roof that once covered the original building has been preserved.


The current exhibition rooms that now integrate the cultural center express the layers of memory of the building, either in its vertebrae exposed in the concrete trussses of the roof, or in the varied designs of the floors that resemble us the previous division of the rooms. Assuming the presence of these elements as the motto of a new relationship between art, architecture and the city seemed to us the natural path to conceive this new exhibition space - and to transform it into an extensive habitaculum that can overflow to the city. Actions and reoccupations will attemp to establish a strong dialogue between the city and its residents/passersby. To overflow is to leave the edges, pour out, spill, spread out around to extend these edges. Just like a river overflows, widening its banks, Strucutral Archeology aims to enable a reconnection of the building with the city.

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