ETH Zürich  |  DARCH  |  ITA  |  Structural Design  |  EXCURSIONS  |  SPRING 2012 
Oscar Niemeyer, Exhibition pavilion Oca, 1951
Oscar Niemeyer, Exhibition pavilion Oca, 1951

Oca – The Brazilian "Urhütte"
Cultural and constructive change in the material

Fr. 16.03. – Mo. 26.03.2012 | 10-11 Participants | Cost range E | Impressions objects | Poster

Oca is the Urhütte of Brazil, constructed from a delicate network both strong and slender wooden beams and covered with fern and palm leafs. Oca meant in the language of the Tupi-Guarani a big house initially without subdivisions, where many families live in common, while in Brazil today it is generic for the “Urhütte”-type. The houses with usually rounded floor plans give shelter up to one hundred people and were built over centuries of time with very simple means. It was formed out of a very special kind of wood craft, which is different from ours, especially concerning the typology of the components, the joints, and the building arrangement.

Today, the architecture of Brazil is internationally known for its prominent concrete buildings of the past decades, where especially Oscar Niemeyer plays an important role. In 1954 Niemeyer erected an exhibition building in Sao Paulo Ibirapuera Park, which he himself called “Oca”. Although Niemeyer`s concrete building refers to the traditional concept, concerning the openness of the interior and the closure towards the exterior, the material is used in a way that is distant to the simplicity of the former manual labor.

The seminar will travel to understand the traditional, archetypal designing with wood practically and to compare them with the characteristics of industrial materials exemplified by the concrete structures of Brazilian modernism. The technical-constructive change within the building materials should become apparent just as much as the cultural-aesthetic change.

4-day stay in a village within a reserve, construction of an Oca-hut
3-day stay in Sao Paulo, the inspection of various buildings of the Brazilian modernism
expected discussions and tours with Paulo Mendes da Rocha and Milton Braga

Chair of Structural Design
Prof. Dr. Joseph Schwartz

Transportation, accommodation, visits and reader are included.

last modified 4.2.2020