Many people are afraid of glass houses, but not this amazing architect, born Achillina Bo in Rome in 1914. At age 25, she graduated from the Rome College of Architecture with her final piece, “The Maternity and Infancy Care Centre.” Lina then began working in partnership with architect Carlo Pagani at Studio Bo e Pagani. She also collaborated with architect and designer Gio Ponti on a home design magazine. She opened her own solo studio in 1942, but due to the war, architectural work was scarce, so Lina did illustrations for newspapers and magazines. A year later, her studio was destroyed by an aerial bombing; this led to her becoming more involved in the Italian Communist Party. Domus magazine commissioned her to travel around taking pictures to document the destruction war had brought to Italy. Lina also took part in the First National Meeting for Reconstruction in Milan, highlighting public indifference on the issue; to her, reconstruction was not merely physical, but moral and cultural.
In 1946, Lina and her husband moved to Brazil; they were received in Rio by the IAB (Institute of Brazilian Architects). She again opened her own studio and found her creativity newly inspired by Brazil. She and her husband cofounded the seminal art magazine Habitat; then in 1947, her husband Pietro was asked to establish and run a Museum of Art. Lina designed the building’s conversion into a museum as well as designing an office building for the Associated Newspapers. In 1951, Lina completed the Casa de Vidro or “Glass House,” a design influenced by Italian rationalism. She became a lecturer at the University of São Paulo in 1955 and soon published a major paper on teaching the theory of architecture. At age 74, she was honored with a first-ever exhibition of her work at the University of São Paulo. Lina Bo Bardi died at the Casa de Vidro in 1992, leaving behind designs for a new City Hall for São Paulo and a Cultural Centre for Veracruz.
“Architecture and architectural freedom are above all a social issue that must be seen from inside a political structure, not from outside it.”
—Lina Bo Bardi
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