Terra de Gotham- Architecture and Culture / by Helen Zouvelekis

In 1980, the great Bossa Nova Master, Brazilian Antonio Carlos Jobim, released an album in collaboration with German composer Claus Ogerman entitled Terra Brasilis to re-launch some of Brazil’s most popular songs in America. Similar to prior examples of Bossa Nova in the US (João Gilberto and Stan Getz), the album brilliantly combined the carioca spirit bared by Jobim with Ogerman’s mastery of arrangement and the clear influence of the city where it was recorded, New York. It’s pretty noticeable: the city’s pulse, the multi-cultural influence, the complexity, and the cities claim over what should be a Brazil-Germany creation. It is one of the best albums ever recorded.

Terra Brasilis by Antonio Carlo Jobim

As with Terra Brasilis, my experience working as an architect and living in New York has been a constant process of expansion and revision, effecting my professional practice. Coming from an intense design experience in São Paulo, New York has brought me a depth of understanding the nature of working collectivley in a highly interdisciplinary setting; an acknowledgment of the design team beyond architecture and an embracement of the multiplicities of coordination in a more progressive manner. This is the essence of working in New York collaboratively with members of large consulting teams, as well as responding to the constant, changing demands from clients. 

 Davis Brody Bond - Collaboration

Davis Brody Bond - Collaboration

Architecture in São Paulo is more individualized. The architect develops all aspects of the design process. As cosmopolitan as São Paulo is (the most powerful city of Latin America along with Mexico City with a population of over 20 million people), many contextual factors constrain the flexibility in which construction can operate. In Brazil, the architect is a solitary figure that needs to overcome many technical limitations including low labor qualification and a ton of bureaucracies to make design a reality.

Economic power is the biggest asset of the United States over Brazil with more access to materials, human resources, technology, and capital. As one of the main converging points of the world financial market, New York has access to the science of the world and all it can generate. Also, the intense clash of culture and stimuli here creates a deeply inspiring environment where people are constantly challenged about their own absolute truths and ideologies. Skills are enhanced by ideas and expressions, collectively shared in sidewalks, parks, and subways. New York has renewed my belief in design and architecture, and proved to me that there are no unavailable options to be explored. Why can't design be more inspirational or provocative? As long as it fits the purpose culturally and programmatically, I don’t believe there is anything NYC can’t create.

São Paulo and New York City.

This is the power of New York City: to host the world’s plurality and offer the resources and perspective to empower original creations! It’s an everlasting loop of building, demolishing, transforming, and recreating. The perfect scenario for great design opportunities. This extraordinary experience in New York has certainly been a profound transformation process for me as an architect. It has integrated my own Brasilidade to its infinite diversity to produce something more powerful, full, and authentic.

  • Terra de Gotham - Land of Gotham
  • Brasilidade - a Brazilian authentic expression
  • Bossa Nova - a style of Brazilian music derived from samba, with more emphasis on the melody
  • Carioca – is a denomination used for anything that comes from Rio de Janeiro
 Pedro Pereira, Designer / Architect Davis Brody Bond   

Pedro Pereira, Designer / Architect Davis Brody Bond