Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992)

‘The artist’s freedom has always been “individual”, but true freedom can only be collective. A freedom aware of social responsibilities, which can knock down the frontiers of aesthetics…’ Lina Bo Bardi

bobardisesc_archrecord-SESC Pompeia

SESC Pompéia Factory, 1977


The coming together of skill and imagination of architects and the experiences and wishes of the public is likely to involve some friction, but it’s worth the effort because it is this encounter that makes architecture worth having. Few architects realized this better than the Brazilian Lina Bo Bardi, who achieved a rare combination of passion and generosity.

Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) was an prolific architect and designer who devoted her working life to promoting the social and cultural potential of architecture and design.

Bardi was born in Rome and educated at Rome University’s College of Architecture. She began her career in Milan, under Gio Ponti. In 1942, at the age of 24, she opened her own architectural office, but the lack of work during wartime soon led Bardi to take up illustration for newspapers and magazines such as Stile, Grazia, Belleza, Tempo, Vetrina and Illustrazione Italiana. The following year, Bardi was invited to run Domus magazine.


Glass House, 1951


Glass House Courtyard, 1951










Soon after the end of WWII, Bardi started the architecture periodical A Cultura della Vita; she also held a position as architectural critic for the daily paper Milano Sera. Yet, because they had participated in the Italian resistance movement, Lina and her husband, the critic Pietro Bardi, found life in post-war Italy increasingly difficult, and a 1946 trip to Rio de Janeiro convinced the couple to make Brazil their permanent home. Bardi quickly re-established her practice in Brazil and, along with her husband, co-founded the influential art magazine Habitat. The magazine’s title referenced Bardi’s conceptualization of the ideal interior as a “habitat” designed to maximize human potential.

SESC Pompeia2

SESC Pompéia Factory, 1977

Over the next 30 plus years, Bardi would participate in a variety of projects. She designed private homes, including her own São Paulo home, the Glass Hous

e (1951), an early example of the use of reinforced concrete in domestic architecture. Bardi designed modern furniture in plywood and native Brazilian woods (which she admired for their inherent “strength” and “beauty”); she believed that every designed object ought to take on a form that would display its own “natural logic.” Bardi’s most famous furniture design is her upholstered Bowl chair on a metal frame (1951).

Bo Bardi also designed many public buildings, including office buildings, theaters, churches, and cultural centers such as the highly successful Po

mpéia Factory (1977). She was responsible for the design of several innovative new art museums, including the Modern Art Museum in São Paulo (1957-68), and organized and curated many exhibitions. In addition, she designed jewelry and created set designs and costumes for experimental film and theater. She was someone who could work with whatever was at hand. Bo Bardi herself, in 1951, attacked the “exterior forms and acrobatics” that she felt were devaluing “the spirit of modern architecture”. This, she said, is “unwavering, and shaped by a love of humanity”.


The São Paulo Museum of Art, 1968


The São Paulo Museum of Art, 1968














Lina Bo Bardi: Together

Lina Bo Bardi: buildings shaped by love

Spatial Agency: Lina Bo Bardi