Luiz Cunha, “international but brief” [and pop!]
The first years (1957–1973): Churches, Cities, Comics and Capsules
Luiz Cunha (1933-2019) is recognised for his singular and eclectic architecture, which stands out in the Portuguese context, as well as for his production as a highly skilled draughtsman and a passionate painter. His extensive body of work has received a certain attention and research and his production is read as part of a movement for the renovation of religious architecture, as an individual creative expression, or as part of a fantasist trend towards postmodern Portuguese architecture. Lesser attention, however, was devoted to his writings, drawings, unbuilt projects and unbuildable paper architectures. An analysis of that corpus reveals a surprising production especially in the early years of his career; he was an attentive spectator of the international debate and, more importantly, a translator of some of these ideas into Portuguese reality.
Based on graphical documentation, writings, and a long personal conversation, this article proposes a rereading of Cunha's activity, focusing on his exploration of pop expression through a) drawing — merging the aesthetics and the mechanics of comics and cartoon into architectural representation, b) buildings — employing a formal techno-pop repertoire and experimenting with complex structures, always with a distinct sense of humour and c) architectural discourse — entering the international debate on megastructures and capsules of the time, while actively promoting Portuguese architecture. Analysed chronologically, this production allows a retracing of the evolution of Cunha’s thinking and reveals a figure who is “international but brief” — in Nuno Portas’ expression — constantly halfway between regional architecture and space-age capsules.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
A. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal
B. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
C. Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).