© Ph.L. Goodwin, G.E. Kidder Smith, Brazil Builds. Architecture New and Old 1652-1942, New York, 1943.
Sign the petition: Save Palácio Capanema!
By Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Jorge Moreira, Carlos Leão and Ernani Vasconcellos, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, 1945

Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo Brazil, about the alarming situation of the Palácio Capanema, which can enter the list of properties that will be sold by the federal government on August 27th. The building is a landmark of modern Brazilian architecture and has the signature of the most important Brazilian architects of all times.

The President of Docomomo Brazil, Renato da Gama-Rosa Costa, shared a petition to save the Palácio Capanema, which states:

“Via the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, the Bolsonaro Government wants to privatize a group of properties belonging to the Union. The ‘star of the auction’ is the Palácio Capanema, which was headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health until the capital was transferred to Brasília. An initiative of Gustavo Capanema, Minister of Education and Health of the Vargas Government, it is remarkable for its aesthetic, technical, landscape and urban innovations. A landmark of modern architecture in Brazil and in the world, it is an internationally recognized masterpiece of 20th century art.

An exceptionally gifted team worked on the design and construction of the Ministry from 1936 to 1945. The architects were Lucio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Jorge Moreira, Carlos Leão and Ernani Vasconcellos. Le Corbusier briefly served as a consultant. Its gardens were designed by Burle Marx, interior panels by Portinari, carpets by Niemeyer, sculptures by Bruno Giorgi, Adriana Janacópulos, Jacques Lipchitz and Celso Antônio. The engineer, no less famous, was Emilio Baumgart, a wizard of reinforced concrete. IPHAN – Institute of National Historical and Artistic Heritage – listed the Ministry in 1948. Designation as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO is forthcoming.

But that may not come to pass. The building is under siege, as if it were just a vacant, ordinary office slab. A preposterous proposition, since the Palácio Capanema is an icon of incalculable value, only momentarily closed for the rehabilitation of its halls, walks, and gardens. The Palácio Capanema is not a white elephant. It embodies memories of the past and hopes for the future, because of what it represents and allows, touristic uses included. Privatizing the renovated palace-square would show a profound—indeed embarrassing—lack of education and culture, a false sense of economy, and frightening improvidence. It would also be widely viewed as an attack on citizenship, and a crime against national and world heritage. Crimes of this magnitude cannot be covered-up, only prevented or punished.”

The full petition can be read in English and Portuguese: MANIFESTO SAVE THE MINISTRY

Please sign the petition: here.
We have already reached 1500 signatures, help us to reach more! To see the list, click here.

Docomomo International together Docomomo Brazil wishes to raise awareness on this case and fully supports all the initiatives to preserve this important Modern Movement Monument.

© Ana Tostões, 2013