About – Vazio S/A
About

Vazio S/A mixes research on urban voids and architectural practice.

We strive for an active approach that is full of purpose, a vision of informality, empty spaces and the market as something that can point the way towards new projects and opportunities. Allied with the portfolio of a conventional firm (houses, commercial buildings, urban design, etc.) is an experimental studio that explores architecture competitions, publications, partnerships with social and artistic groups, and ephemeral urban interventions in search of new relationships between contemporary culture and architecture.

Vazio S/A has won numerous national and international accolades, including the  influential Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award; has constructed projects in Brazil, Canada and the UK; and has featured at important art exhibitions, such as the Venice Architecture Biennale and the São Paulo Art Bienal.

Among the studio’s most recent constructed projects are CABH (the winning design for the new municipal government headquarters in Belo Horizonte), H3O (a sports and leisure park with a community center in the Serra shantytown), Cerrado House (a house in the Brazilian savannah) and the installation Structural Archaelogy.

Activating Voids

Vazio S/A was founded in 2001, soon after the publication of History of the Void in BH (Carlos M Teixeira, Cosac Naify, 1999). Based on an acceptance of the city as it is, the book is an essay on urban informality and a photographic paean to the outskirts and their urban voids, setting out a possible modus for working in a city under construction, extolling destruction, provoking an inverted aesthetic reading of the picture-postcard and peering into the city’s latent lacunae.

Allied with a strategy that approaches the city in a way that avails of the reality actually encountered on the ground, History of the Void is a celebration of empty space as a well of possibilities; of the cityscape as something necessarily in constant mutation; and of the possibilities offered by the informality and haphazard formation of cities under development. It was with History of the Void under our arm that we proposed a form of architectural practice that could expand upon those bases. From houses to urban design, from scenographic projects for theatre and dance to apartment buildings and works installed within the contexts of contemporary art, what runs through all of the studio’s output is the pursuit of multidisciplinary investigation.

The so-called “palafittes” in Belo Horizonte (enormous hollows created by the stilts and piles on which many of the city’s apartment buildings perch over sheer embankments) served as a laboratory for the immediate application of the ideas put forward in the book. Seen as a problem caused by horrendously designed buildings, these empty underbellies were transformed into ad hoc theatre spaces. The first intervention took place in 2001, when the artist Louise Ganz and architect Carlos Teixeira collaborated with the Armatrux theatre troupe on a play performed among these palafittes. The result was the Topographical Amnesias series: Amnesias Topograficas I (2001), followed by Amnesias Topograficas II (2004-2005) and Amnesias Topograficas III (2007). Conceptually, Topographical Amnesias was the first of a suite of projects in which an underused, collateral void was reactivated through a program. The same concept was reapplied on Lagoa SecaUnder ArrudasTeatro OficinaInvisible Public Spaces, Under the Viaducts, Strucutral Archaeolgy, and Ibirapuera Marquee,

Formally, the spatial disarrangement of Amnesias Topograficas served as the main motif running through a number of the studio’s architectural projects, such as the swimming-pool complex in  Aalborg, Denmark, Vila del Rey House, Cerrado House , Ruichang Bldg. and the installation Spiral Booths in London. However, by transforming the disorder found among the palafittes into architectonic projects, these works strove to blur the distinction between the planned and non-planned, found and designated space, the anti-architecture of the stilted buildings and the architecture proposed in projects that, simultaneously, celebrate and critique that very same anti-architecture.

In terms of design and urban landscaping, Vazio S/A produced the Under the Viaducts on the East-West Expressway series, coordinated by  Flávio Agostini (2007). The project threw up new usage possibilities for the empty spaces underneath 15 overpasses along the East-West Expressway in Belo Horizonte. Another large-scale endeavour is the New BH Urban Operation, a project to re-qualify the environs of the Arrudas River, conducted in partnership with three renowned studios: Aecom (London), DG Arquitetura (Rio de Janeiro) and BCMF (Belo Horizonte).

Real-Estate market
We believe that cities would perhaps be better if architects also took on the roles of builder and developer, especially if we consider the current crop of uniform apartments and buildings on offer today, which are almost always designed to suit construction companies and real-estate agents. We know that most of the urban fabric is made up of houses and apartments, so our cities are unfortunately being produced by and for the largely retrograde and conservative pillars of the housing industry. It was with this in mind that we built Montevideu 285, a building designed and developed by us in conjunction with the construction company Primus. Another residential building was Buenos Aires, likewise an alternative to the lazy sameness of today’s apartment blocks. Our platform NovoMorar presents these and other projects with this same approach.

Architecture and Scenic Art
In 2010, the studio was invited to participate in two exhibitions that consolidated its exploration of the links between architecture and scenic art, a line of research that began on the Topographical Amnesias series produced in conjunction with the Armatrux theatre troupe. The results were the installation  The Other, the Same, which featured at the 29th São Paulo Art Bienal, and Spiral Booths, a vertical theatre constructed for the Architects Build Small Spaces exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Other projects that fed off this convergence between theatre, the scenic arts and urban space were the set design for the dance performance Distressed (Cia. de Dança Palácio das Artes, 2007) and the art direction project for the piece Bom Retiro 958 meters (Teatro da Vertigem, 2012).

Including an interview on performance and architecture with the architect  Bernard Tschumi, the studio’s most recent book– Entre: Architecture from the Performing Arts (Carlos M Teixeira, Artifice Books on Architecture, 2012) – is a selection of projects related to the scenic arts that testifies to the expansion of the studio’s interests beyond the strict limits of architecture per se, broaching a point of tangency between the role of the architect and the artist in building and activating voids.

Limits of Landscaping
Problems pertaining to the future and to time form another suite of projects that inhabit the intersection between landscaping, urbanism and architecture, or, otherwise put, that constitute an exploration of the limits of landscaping. Here we might mention the hanging grass gardens of  Amnesias Topograficas II (2004), the staggered scales of the landscaping for the Shooting Center (2005), the actions and reactions of Architectural Grafts (2008), the floating boxes of Grafts (2011), the energy fields of Dead Garden I (2012) and Dead Garden II (2013), and the Cool Gardens labyrinth (2015).

Awards

2015. IAB-MG: XVII Premiação de Arquitetura do IAB-MG categoria “Edifícios Institucionais, Culturais, Educativos, de Lazer e Entretenimento”. Arqueologia Estrutural – primeiro lugar. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

2015. IAB-MG: XVII Premiação de Arquitetura do IAB-MG categoria “Habitação Uni e Multifamiliar”. Ed. VDA – menção honrosa. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

2014. Ordem dos Arquitetos da Provincial Pichincha Ecuador: XIX Bienal Pan Arquitetura de Quito. Livro Entre – menção honrosa. Quito (Equador).

2014. Prefeitura Municipal de Belo Horizonte: Concurso Nacional de Arquitetura Centro Administrativo de Belo Horizonte. CABH – segundo lugar. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

2014. Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire: Festival International des Jardins. Planar Garden – premiado e não construído. Chaumont-sur-Loire (França).

2014. Bim.Bon: Prêmio Bim.Bon de Arquitetura Brasileira. Gambiólogos – premiado projeto do mês. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

2013. Associação Paulista de Críticos de Arte: Prêmio APCA categoria “Fronteiras da Arquitetura”. Bom Retiro 958m – premiado. São Paulo (Brasil).

2012. Les Jardins de Métis/ Reford Gardens: The International Garden Festival. Dead Garden II – premiado e construído. Quebec (Canadá). Exibido nas edições de 2013, 2014, 2015 e 2016.

2012. IAB-MG: XIV Premiação de Arquitetura do IAB-MG categoria “Habitação Uni e Multifamiliar”. Ed. Montevideu 285 – primeiro lugar. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

2011. Arquitetura & Construção: IV Prêmio O Melhor da Arquitetura categoria “Edifícios Institucionais – Educação”. Parque da Terceira Água H3O (com Silvio Todeschi, Alexandre Campos, Ana Assis e M3 Arquitetura) – primeiro lugar. São Paulo (Brasil).

2011. IAB-SP and AIA-NY: Competition for the exhibition New Practices São Paulo at AIA-New York Chapter. Awarded portfolio. New York (USA) and São Paulo (Brazil)

2010. Victoria & Albert Museum: 1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces. Spiral Booths – premiado e construído. Londres (Inglaterra).

2008. Private Plots: Best Private Plots & Public Spots. Enxertos Arquitetônicos – terceiro lugar. Langenlois (Áustria).

2007. Tangshan Urban Planning Bureau: Tangshan Earthquake Memorial Park. Tangshan Park – terceiro lugar. Tangshan (China).

2006. The Architectural Review: Emergent Architecture Awards. Amnésias Topográficas (com Louise Ganz) – menção honrosa. Londres (Inglaterra).

2006. JA The Japan Architecture: Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition. Casa da Várzea – menção honrosa. Tóquio (Japão).

2004. IAB-SP: VI Prêmio Jovens Arquitetos categoria “Ensaios Críticos”. O Condomínio Absoluto – destaque. São Paulo (Brasil).

2003. Ministry for Culture of the Arab Republic of Egypt: Architecture Competition for the Grand Egyptian Museum. Grande Museu Egípcio (com Bruno Campos e Fernando Lara) – distinção. Cairo (Egito).

2002. Groupe E2: Defining the Urban Conditions (concurso internacional). Amnésias Topográficas (com Louise Ganz) – primeiro lugar. Paris (França).

2001. Defining Digital Architecture: Far Eastern International Digital Architecture Design Award. The Kyoto Protocol Landscape – finalista.

1999. Governo do Estado de São Paulo: Concurso Público para Urbanização da Área do Carandiru (concurso nacional). Parque da Juventude Carandiru – menção honrosa. São Paulo (Brasil).

1999. USIMINAS: II Prêmio USIMINAS de Arquitetura em Aço. Habitação Social (com Oscar de Vianna Vaz e Luciana Miglio Cajado) – menção honrosa. Belo Horizonte (Brasil).

1998. Prefeitura de São Paulo: Concurso Nacional de Ideias Para Um Novo Centro. São Paulo: Layers, Pontos Indutores, Buffers (com Fernanda Borges e Pieter Quast) – quarto lugar. São Paulo (Brasil).