A Modernidade na Arquitetura Hospitalar [Modernity in Hospital Architecture]

Vía Docomomo International.

By Ana M. G. Albano Amora and Renato Gama-Rosa Costa, published by PROARQ, 2019

Book Review by Renato Anelli, published in: docomomo Journal 62 – Cure and Care (2020) ISSN 1380/3204.

This book presents the history of hospital architecture.

A Modernidade na Arquitetura Hospitalar [Modernity in Hospital Architecture] offers the reader a consistent introduction to the history of health facilities architecture, enabling the understanding of its transformations together with those of medicine.

Two moments can be highlighted. The first one is when there was the application of the typology of horizontal pavilions apart from each other and distant from the cities to comply with the medical strategy to isolate the sick. The emergence of new medications enabled the insertion of hospitals in urban areas. Architects developed new project parameters aligned with the principles of the modern vanguard. Thus, the second moment is that of vertical buildings for better localization, flow control for contamination avoidance, new environmental comfort devices for heat control and air purification, appropriate environments for equipment and the psychological welcoming of patients. Modern hospitals became exemplary of architects’ roles as coordinators of various knowledge disciplines, as highlighted by Ana Amora when citing Rino Levi in her chapter.

The book is the outcome of an international seminar held in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, with chapters by authors from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. It offers a panorama of the social modernization process through the development of medicine and its architecture – its challenges, theories, procedures and facilities – in surmounting the colonial condition and the formation of independent nations in South and North America. Thus, modernization is understood in a broader period than the architectural and artistic production in the framework of the vanguards. The geographic position is of interest because climate and political conditions outlined the challenges faced by medicine and architecture. Those conditions required the adjustment of European theories and the creation of research centers.

Therefore, specificities emerge within national and regional contexts: variations in periodicities, public policies, institutions and priorities.

The Brazilian case is more predominant in the book. There are studies on the impact of microbiology theories in hospital projects in Rio de Janeiro at the end of the 19th century; the role of Oswaldo Cruz and his architect Luís de Moraes Junior; the transition of philanthropic institutions of the First Republic into hospital networks spreading throughout the national territory as from Getúlio Vargas’ first administration, with the decentralization of quality hospital architecture, revealing works that reach far beyond the contribution of Luis Nunes in Pernambuco.

There are two case studies on territorial occupation drawing on delimited historical-geographic situations representing Chile (Antofagasta during the Pacific War) and Colombia (Agua de Dios lazaret).

Modernization periodization varies from one country to another. Urban vertical hospitals in Canada precede vanguardist architecture, following historicist styles of the USA East Coast. The Mexican Revolution inaugurated large-scale public policies in 1920, years before Brazil under Vargas.

Besides mastering the specific knowledge of the history of architecture, several authors find support in the main critical theories of medicine as a means of social control. Published at this moment of a new pandemic when, in the absence of effective medications, isolation is once again the central strategy, this book enables reflection on the temporariness of scientific certainties in this area.

A Modernidade na Arquitetura Hospitalar – contribuições para sua historiografia
Edited by: Ana M. G. Albano Amora and Renato Gama-Rosa Costa
Publisher: PROARQ
ISBN: 978-65-81518-00-4
Language: Portuguese, Spanish and English
Year: 2019

El libro puede ser descargado aquí.