The Bartlett School of Architecture


Patricia Rodrigues Ferreira da Silva

Image: Public domain / Brazilian National Archives Collection

After the Future: Architecture and the Military Regime in Brazil

First and second supervisors 


Brazilian modernist architecture was politically attuned since its early development. Starting in 1935 with the iconic Ministry of Education and Public Health in Rio de Janeiro, and reaching a crescendo in 1960 with the new capital Brasilia, these three decades witnessed huge technological innovations, later translated into projects in all possible scales. Alongside economic and population growth, the construction of buildings, infrastructures and cities added to Brazil’s image as the ‘Land of the Future’.

However, the ‘Cold War’ brought fears of communist threat to western capitalism. In contrast to previous euphoria, the 1960s saw coups d’état in Latin American countries endorsed by the USA that led to political instability and crisis. Brazil’s military government from 1964–85 used dubious statistics of economic growth to justify large-scale construction and territorial expansion. Yet, its political use of architecture remains unclear, as later revulsion about the dictatorship means there is still no in-depth architectural history of Brazil in this period.

The thesis therefore analyses how Brazilian architecture responded to political shifts during the military rule, retracing the ways in which buildings, images and ideas about the built environment either contributed to shaping the vision of the country in convenience with the regime’s intentions or operated as forms of resistance. In examining this missing piece of Brazilian architectural history, the research seeks to provide an interpretation of this context as seen through the lens of architecture, as much as to investigate the relationship between design and politics. 


Patricia Rodrigues Ferreira da Silva is a Brazilian architect currently based in London, where she is a PhD student in the Architectural & Urban History & Theory programme at the Bartlett. She holds degrees in architecture and urbanism from Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (BR) and the Berlage Center/TU Delft (NL), and in pure mathematics from IMPA - Instituto Nacional de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (BR).  Prior to starting her PhD, Patricia worked as a curatorial/editorial assistant and as an architect, collaborating with architectural practices in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Rotterdam. 


London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) Doctoral Training Partnership (as of October 2022)

Image: Public domain / Brazilian National Archives Collection