Urban benevolence: Bo Bardi’s recovery projects in Salvador

Annette Condello , Steffen Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


In the late 1980s, when Salvador, Bahia, was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi (Rome, 1914-Sao Paulo, 1992) created original urban visions to improve people’s lives in Brazil. In mending dilapidated regions and restoring past monuments, Bo Bardi focussed her attention on modest urban renewal works involving the local community. Her ethical process and concern became significant as she thought social issues and participation were more important than architectural restoration. She vehemently adhered to the principles of traditional historical preservation, encountered earlier in Italy through Gustavo Giovannoni’s idea of “ambientismo,” and the heritage protection work led by Lucio Costa. Bo Bardi experimented with the use of concrete and used the widely-available material in innovative ways for extensions and adaptive re-use, while respecting/restoring the existing (in collaboration with architect-engineer Lele). For her, the new had to be recognisable as different from the existing.
This paper explores the origins of heritage conservation and urban renewal in Salvador to reveal the humane breadth of Bo Bardi’s ethical sensibility. Taking into account the published writings of Bo Bardi and by recent critics, the paper will focus on two projects: the Casa do Benin (1987) and the Ladeira da Misericordia (1987-88). In both projects, her infrastructural and building interventions strengthened public spaces for the common good. The paper suggests how she not only operated as an architect but also as an urban designer, using adaptive re-use as part of a wider urban renewal strategy. Arguing that her work changed over the years, shifting from aesthetic manipulation to an ethical sensibility, her interest in providing places for the common good matured. Although beauty and proportion were not so important for Bo Bardi, ethically she opted for correct, authentic projects.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2016
Event69th Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Annual International Conference - Pasadena, Los Angeles , United States
Duration: 6 Apr 201410 Apr 2016
Conference number: 69


Conference69th Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Annual International Conference
Abbreviated titleSAH
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPasadena, Los Angeles


Dive into the research topics of 'Urban benevolence: Bo Bardi’s recovery projects in Salvador'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this