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BUILDING DESIGN ELZA COSTEIRA – ARCHITECT, BRAZIL


Designand preservation of Modern hospitals


Brazilian architecture professor Elza Costeira takes a journey through some iconic hospital designs of the Brazilian post-war period and argues for their preservation and continued use as healthcare buildings.


This work presents a study of hospitals in Brazil built in the period between 1940 and 1960, when domestic architects were influenced by the modern style developed during the interwar period in Europe, which ended up spreading throughout the Western world, notably in the years that followed the Second World War. The so-called Brazilian Modern


Architecture was influenced by Le Corbusier’s visits to Brazil from 1929 and his subsequent design for the Ministry of Education and Health Building in Rio de Janeiro built in 1936, and the 1943 exhibition of Brazilian architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which generated the publication of Brazil Builds: Architecture New and Old 1652- 1942 by Philip Goodwin.1 The below examples of Brazilian Modern Architecture hospitals were designed by renowned architects such as Irineu Breitman, Rino Levi and Oscar Niemeyer.


Characteristics of Brazilian Modern Architecture healthcare buildings The below projects demonstrate the alignment of hospital architecture to the new standards of the prevailing modern architecture in Brazil: the use of straight lines, abstract volume, the absence of ornament and historical references, the attention to functional aspects, and the exploration of the constructive characteristics of reinforced concrete.


The Fêmina Hospital in Porto Alegre, built in 1955. Such principles disseminated by the


architect Le Corbusier in his seminal 1927 book Towards a New Architecture,2


and in


his plan for a house on the outskirts of Paris, Villa Savoye, for which he used his ‘five points of architecture’ so influential on Brazilian architects. From the use of reinforced concrete structures, ‘freedom’ was achieved in the design of more flexible spaces through the absence of load- bearing walls, and greater consideration for the incorporation of natural light and air. This new way of designing was in turn of benefit to hospital buildings through improved ventilation and so on. The Brazilian Modern Architecture hospitals were also influenced by the US, with its preference for tall and compact hospital over the old-style sanatorium pavilions. An agreement between the Brazilian government and the Rockefeller Foundation for Brazilian doctors and


Elza Costeira


Elza Costeira is a guest professor at Universidade Paulista (UNIP), a professor in the hospital architecture course at the Institute of Hospital Administration and Health Sciences (IAHCS) and coordination and teaching at the Brazilian Institute of


Continuing Education (INBEC). Elza has been a consultant to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, and worked for 18 years at the municipal health secretariat of the city of Rio de Janeiro. A member of the Brazilian Association for Development of the Hospital Building (ABDEH) and leader of the South American


chapter at the International Academy for Design and Health, Elza has published several books and articles on healthcare architecture.


IFHE DIGEST 2021


hospital administrators to make study trips and attend courses at American universities was particularly influential.3 There is an emphasis on external


volumetric solutions, for stairs and elevators, in relation to the blocks that houses hospital services, as if to explain the function and the rationalisation of flows. The design decisions in the basement models of hospitals are also emphasised. The option of implementing a vertical block, with inpatient units distributed on their floors, on a horizontal ground floor block, with one or two floors, with outpatient services, and administration, was part of a recommendation for the organisation of hospital buildings, featuring a typology in the architecture of modern hospitals, called ‘tower on podium’. To provide greater comfort to patients


and staff, there was common usage of brises-soleil (solar shades), cobogós (ceramic façade tiles) and panels at the point of most unfavourable solar orientation, as well as panoramic views, openings to gardens and the presence of the morning sun in the wards.


Hospital Fêmina, Porto Alegre (1955) One of the most important Brazilian Modern Architecture healthcare projects was Hospital Fêmina in Porto Alegre, designed by Irineu Breitman. This is a classic representation of a hospital in a vertical block with formal characteristics of the prevailing modern design. The building


83


©Irineu Breitman IPH Collection


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