Renato Pimenta Q&A
Renato Pimenta studied architecture in Belo Horizonte, and did a masters on its planning policies and the resulting urban fabric. He works at architecture practice Dixon Jones.
What are you currently working on?
A mixed use building in Knightsbridge and the masterplan for Chelsea Barracks.
How does working in London compare to working in Brazil?
In the UK, architects are held more responsible for potential failures of the design after the building is completed than they are in Brazil. This is a good thing as it makes the design process more careful. On the other hand, the uncertainty and restrictions of the planning approval process can sometimes discourage innovation.
What things do you miss most about Brazil?
Having a coffee standing at a bar in central Belo Horizonte; the less populated beaches of Bahia; getting lost in the streets of Ouro Preto and having a little glass of beer (chopp caçulinha) at Bar Luiz in Rio.
What Brazilian things do you do in London?
I eat pão de queijo and coxinha at Canela and Cafe Rio, and I go to Brazilian gigs. But mostly I catch up with Brazilian friends in English pubs which are certainly tapped into the Brazilian way of life as I understand it. The Prince George in Dalston is one of my favourites.
What would a perfect night out in Brazil involve ?
I would meet friends in Cafe com Letras in Belo Horizonte before going to listen to some live music. Chorinho - an old style of music that mixes polka with samba - is making a comeback which I find very interesting.
What influences were at play while you were studying architecture in Brazil?
Modernism is an important and well known influence for most of Brazilian architects of my generation, and I include myself in that group. Simultaneously, the colonial buildings and streets of towns like Ouro Preto, Diamantina and Tiradentes are also an important reference and help me judge the quality of buildings and how they interact with the surrounding spaces and the local climate.