Murray Kerr’s inspiration: SESC Pompéia, São Paulo

Andreia Reis Sesc_Pompéia_(4759990517)

The Denizen Works director recalls his first visit to the social and cultural centre in a Brazilian barrel factory

SESC Pompéia, São Paulo, Brazil | Lina Bo Bardi 1977-1986

When I was 21, I spent two and a half months visiting my uncle and aunt in Brazil to travel around South America, completely wide-eyed, with my cousin George. We visited many buildings by Oscar Niemeyer, Paulo Mendes da Rocha (who I met) and Lina Bo Bardi including the SESC Pompéia in São Paulo. Before the trip, I didn’t really know Bo Bardi’s work – it wasn’t really talked about at the Mac.

It’s a joyous and slightly surreal place and as Zeuler Lima, a leading authority on Bo Bardi puts it, like a bowl of soup for people.

Apparently when Bo Bardi first visited the site she was impressed by the old factory buildings that were to be the home of SESC, but it was only when she went back at the weekend that she encountered the spirit of the place. Local families were using the abandoned structures as an informal playground and gathering place, and it is this informality that Lina took as her inspiration.

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