March 8, 2016

Fragment of the interview “The Last Lesson” originally published on domus No. 753, October 1993

“Lina Bo, a highly intelligent woman…we are pleased to provide some extremely fine examples of her work for the first time in Italy. She is earning herself a place in modern architecture. And the “glass house” has to be ranked as a major theme of modern architecture. She is a credit both to Brazil which has motivated her and to Italy which educated her” Gio Ponti, 1953

Domus: To what extent can public power interfere with the freedom of design?
Lina Bo Bardi: In capitalist country public power is not interested in anything. You can be more socialist in a capitalist country than in a socialist country. But absolutely nothing is solved.
Domus: In general, architects in Brazil are forced to work for the rich classes. Why aren’t the conditions created to enable them to get closer to the people by laying the foundations on which to build more dignified homes?
Lina Bo Bardi: A nice question, but idealist and ingenuous. Architects, exactly like other professionals, doctors, engineers or economists, depend on the country’s socio-economic structure. To change it you would have to attempt a revolution, but failing that, you are compelled to work within the system. However we must never give up the struggle; to struggle for change is the only thing worthy of man, of any real person. Indeed, for example the Salida de la Misericordia at Bahia, will continue to be inhabited by the same people who were there before its restoration. It won’t be turned into weekend flats, bachelor establishments or things like that.
As with teaching, I believe there should be only public and free education. I am against private education exactly as in my work I am against private clients. I have designed only two or three houses for friends, for people very close to me. If someone with money were to ask me to design a house for him or her I would refuse. I work for public power, I don’t believe in private enterprise, not even in a capitalist country. And in Brazil I have always succeeded in doing what I wanted without accepting conditions or shady compromises – despite being not just an architect, but a woman as well. And for that reason I declare myself a Stalinist and a anti-feminist. Of course, if you are a woman and talk like a hen and have no qualifications, then all is ruined, there’s nothing you can do.