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Guilah Naslavsky on Cidades do Nordeste: do pote à rua
19 July, 2021
Cities in the Northeast: From the Pot to the Street: Traditional Construction Methods (2017) – was organized by the architect and teacher Ana Rita Sá Carneiro, coordinator of the landscape laboratory at UFPE. This unprecedented study on Traditional Construction Methods from the Northeast was realized in 1978 by the architects Liana Mesquita and Neide Mota with architect Ivone Salsa photographs. It was subsidized by the Northeast Development Superintendence (SUDENE) and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Liana Mesquita graduated as an architect in 1960, and Neide Mota de Azevedo, graduated in 1957, both from the local architectural school. The female architects described the importance of traditional construction methods from the Brazilian Northeastern region (specifically from Sertão, Agreste, Litoral, and Zona da Mata regions) which: ‘accumulated construction experience on the materials uses and techniques construction, storage solutions for water supply and food cooking, internal and external buildings spaces, non-industrialized materials often resulted from simple natural sources extraction such as clay, wood, straw, etc. or by adobe, tile, and clay bricks handcrafted from the poor populations self-construction methods’. Those documentation solutions records were close to their realities, for example, Neide Mota came from a peasant family and aligned her familiarity with vernacular constructions from her rural past and her remarkable sensibility for construction details with her acquired academic knowledge from post-graduate courses, such as the Inter-American Center for Housing and Planning – CINVA, in Colombia (1963) and the Regular Course on Urban and Regional Planning from the American States Organization Program (OAS) in Peru (1972). They took a huge number of pictures from houses’ construction details, which were made of clay (on a wooden structure, Taipa or wattle, and daub), bricks, stones, mixed techniques. Each construction method was detailed: structure, fence (woven panels from coconut tree leaves), spans, floor, roof, and construction technique; in addition to frames (in wood) and domestic equipment (tanks for washing dishes and clothes, brick tables for stoves, hammocks, forks, tables, coffee grinders, food storage pots, meat grinders, solutions for food storage). The female architects recommended rammed earth constructions in urban areas housing programs: ‘with some improvements additions (…) such as walls painting and whitewashing, to avoid the irregularity in walls texture as they become Chagas disease insects habitat; they suggested a cement or lime and sand mortar base serving as supports foundation and frame timber; in addition, they suggested the use of plants inside and outside, green fences to replace the walls’ (Mesquita and Mota, 2017, p.196). By documenting the experience of those, who by themselves, solved housing needs, the female architects intended to contribute to solving urban environment (on the outskirts of cities) housing problems, by learning the precious ‘lessons of popular wisdom, full of simplicity and creativity’ (Mesquita and Mota, 2017, p.41). Those propositions differ from those standardized and industrialized social housing models, which do not well suit local environmental requirements, although they are currently used on governmental housing programs. The traditional construction methods from Brazilian Northeast reflect a deep and inner view from the territorial, social, temporal, and mainly human reality – a sample of localized knowledge – which only the partial, critical, interpretive and adequate perspective from the local reality allows. As explained by Haraway’s (1995) perspective, it is a kind of feminist objectivity.