Surrealism for the masses : housing the unconscious from Barcelona to Buenos Aires, 1938-1960
Author(s)León Crespo, Ana María
Housing the unconscious from Barcelona to Buenos Aires, 1938-1960
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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In the late nineteen-thirties, Buenos Aires grew at an unprecedented rate due to large rural migrations and the diaspora of the European conflicts. These new populations affected the composition and intellectual discourse of the city. Avant-garde discussions on the unconscious, psychoanalysis, and the primitive responded to the fear generated by a growing population and its struggle for a place in the city. Catalan architect Antonio Bonet took up the challenge of housing these masses. He incorporated his experience working with Josep Lluís Sert, Le Corbusier, and Roberto Matta to propose a series of housing projects that sought to mine the tactics of Surrealism. In order to do so, he collaborated with a rotating cast of architects and artists including Jorge Ferrari Hardoy and Juan Kurchan, artists Horacio Cóppola, Grete Stern, and in the context of discussions by Jorge Luis Borges, Roger Caillois, José Ortega y Gasset, and Tomás Maldonado. At the same time, he courted opposing political orientations, from the totalitarianism of a military dictatorship (1943-1946) to the populist politics of president Juan Perón (1946- 1955), to his strategic erasure by the military government of General Aramburu (1955-1958). These different iterations of the Argentinian state came to view architecture as a useful tool in the fabrication of a modern image. Each chapter is focused on one housing project, examined as the intersection of various disciplines, politics, and geographies, connecting the discourse of the Spanish Civil War with Argentinian Nationalism, and CIAM urbanism with the sprawl and growth of Buenos Aires. Public housing, an architectural program where political discourse, culture, and city growth collide, brings these multiple networks together. The growing, restless population gave increased urgency to Bonet's proposals. Where and how to house the incoming masses was a question directly related to the containment or channeling of their political power. These political, intellectual, and social forces gradually transformed Bonet's projects, from an idealist celebration of the masses to the repression of their political power.
Thesis: Ph. D. in Architecture: History and Theory of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2015.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 355-369).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology