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A Church, a Silo, and a Warehouse

Eladio Dieste's Gaussian Vaults and the Workers of the Encofrados / Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Architecture Summit

Traditional architectural history and theory discourse is built from the narratives of prevailing styles, renowned gures, and seminal buildings. This paper follows contemporary calls to challenge tradition, centering architectural discourse around the historical politics of labor and the legacy of construction workers. In this paper, labor is the collective organization of human force that enables the time-based, material production of a structure.

Pedagogical approaches grounded on the construction labor used to build Bóvedas Gausas (Gaussian Vaults), one of the structural innovations developed by the Uruguayan engineering and construction practice, Dieste and Montañez S.A., are the focus of this paper. Intrahistorias, Miguel de Unamuno’s epistemological mechanism for uncovering anonymous histories, and the notion of Potential Histories are the lenses used to study the relationship between workers and the design of encofrados (formwork/scafolding) used to construct the vaults of three structures: Iglesia de Cristo Obrero (Church), Silo CADYL (Silo), and Deposito Julio Herrera y Obes (Warehouse).

Students’ virtual computer models of the encofrados of each structure were used to extend the edges of historical construction images from the Dieste and Montañez Archive. Crafting a new series of images that connect Dieste’s practice to immigrant workers in South America is central to this ongoing labor-based project. Without preserving anachronistic forms of labor and material production, the student work presented in this paper injects construction history with a diverse set of intrahistorias and potential histories.

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