Humanising the Machine

SESC Pompéia


The Role of Craft in the Enrichment of Modernism in the Third World

The modernist ideal of the machine aesthetic concerned itself with the embracing of the new machine age and the production of buildings through the seamless assembly of mechanised production. The embracing of the philosophical tenets of modernist ideals by third world countries over the course of the twentieth century can be seen as an attempt to forge new (inter) national identities out of the historical remnants of colonialism.

The lack of a developed mechanised production industry and lower level of base labour skills in developing nations results in a collection of build works where form and identity are not solely determined by their conception. A socio-political and architectonic understanding of the potential of cheap, unskilled local labour along with a willingness to respond sensitively to the availability of material has resulted in a collection of exceptional buildings where the form of the object is developed from the intense working of materials and their means of assembly in a direct response to the examination of the architectural problem(s) at hand – ideas of construction and detail directly inform the conception. The acceptance of the hand of the worker in the construction of the machine has elevated the modernism of the developing world to a point where the value and meaning become vested in the object itself, the building, resulting in the consequential suppression of any a priori intentions/expression as a pretence for design.

The result is a material expression that is both self-evident and self-sufficient.  Manifested in a concern to combine the physical aspect of architecture with the conception of architecture – buildings that are what they set out to be.