Of Le Corbusier's five points of modern architecture (the ribbon window, free design of the façade and ground plan, a roof garden, and pilotis), pilotis are perhaps the most used element in Brazilian modern architecture.
Independently of typology or scale, from the 1940s onward Brazilian architects began to add sophistication to buildings’ structures. Architects Oscar Niemeyer, João Batista Vilanova Artigas, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, and Affonso Eduardo Reidy conceived true works of art from the aesthetical, visual and technical-structural point of view.
Of the renowned group of architects who settled in Rio de Janeiro and grew to international fame in the 1940s and 1950s, perhaps Oscar Niemeyer developed the greatest number of structural experiments. Slim, bold, sometimes gravity-defying and innovative, Niemeyer's columns highlighted his genius and, particularly, his experimental labs.
Elegantly settling on the ground, the pilotis of the Palácio da Alvorada, Palácio do Planalto, Supreme Court of Brasília, Cathedral of Brasília, Itamaraty and Rio de Janeiro Sambadrome surprise the viewer by uniting aesthetics and structural solutions.
Palace Of Nations
Palácio da Agricultura / MAC USP
With a design process that has a strong structural research base, the pilotis designed by João Batista Vilanova Artigas lets go of the strict structural function to become sculptural pieces. The magic within the design allows for the addition of elements previously considered contradictory in architecture, such as incorporating light through the design of the columns. In the case with Jaú Bus Station, it opens up in four sections, allowing light to enter through the ceiling.
Considered a manifesto in engineering-architectural production, this institutional work is both educational and cultural. It rigorously synthesizes the structural production of pilotis, revealing the magnificence of Vilanova Artigas's studies in parallel to the design concept of the place.
With internationally renowned works due to their structural and functional solutions, the pilotis are, at times, the key in Paulo Mendes da Rocha's designs. For instance, the Brazilian Pavilion in Osaka, a broad marquee of 50 meters in length and 32.5 meters wide, hovers over just four supports built elegantly on sloping topography. The same with Clube Atlético Paulistano Sports Complex, where six concrete pilotis, each 12.5 meters high, were placed in a circle to support the ring-shaped marquee.
Other works that feature this production: Poupatempo Itaquera, Brazilian Sculpture Museum (MuBE), Patriarca Square, Gerassi House, among many others.
Clube Atlético Paulistano Sports Complex
The Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro may be Affonso Eduardo Reidy's most prominent work. Known for its structural solution, it is comprised of supports that work simultaneously as pilotis and beams.