Lease of life: a hidden gem of Brazilian modernism reopens as an art gallery

Lease of life: a hidden gem of Brazilian modernism reopens as an art gallery

Originally designed in the late 1950s, the Castor Delgado Perez Residence in São Paulo’s Jardim Europa district is one of the most significant works of Brazilian modernist architect Rino Levi (1901-1965). After many years of neglect, the expansive villa has now been restored by José Armênio de Brito Cruz of Piratininga Arquitetos Associados and opened its doors as the Luciana Brito Gallery’s new home.

Associated with the Paulista architectural movement, Levi, who studied architecture in Rome and Milan, belongs to that pioneering generation of Brazilian modernists. His work began at the beginning of the 1930s, when he started to focus on the construction of theatres, municipal houses, hospitals or factories. His style matured in the 1950s, and he became one of the most prolific São Paulo architects of his time. He is an expert in handling a building’s indoor/outdoor relationships, an approach he applied in many residential projects, such as this project and the Olivo Gomez house; in both, spacious, linear architecture blends with a lush tropical landscape.

The Castor Delgado Perez Residence’s open plan living areas are matched by a series of more introspective spaces found on the building’s sides, featuring tropical vegetation under the geometric structure of pergolas. The landscape design, conceived by legendary Roberto Burle Marx, who collaborated with Levi on several projects, invades the living space dynamically. The house became one of the most published Brazilian projects of its time, appearing in several international publications including prolific French magazine L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui.

Following an extensive renovation, the space has now become the new HQ of Luciana Brito’s gallery. The iconic project’s generous common spaces, which include an original fireplace in the former main living room, became the perfect place for exhibiting contemporary art.

Honouring its historical home, the gallery opened its doors with ‘Residencia Moderna’, an exhibition highlighting the relationship of the modernist architecture and contemporary art. Displays include works by Caio Reisewitz, Héctor Zamora, Pablo Lobato, Rafael Carneiro, Regina Silveira and Rochelle Costi. 

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