Material Technocracy: Eladio Dieste and Reinforced Brickwork
Creating and Making Forum, College of Architecture, University of Oklahoma with Brian Skrovig
Eladio Dieste: Political & Material Landscape
The work of Uruguayan engineer Eladio Dieste has been studied and admired for its material audacity, structural innovation, and its role in broadening the definition of material practices involving the use of brick. The ongoing research associated with Material Technocracy is focused on the intersection between Eladio Dieste’s experiments using reinforced brickwork and the socio-political conditions under which this work was created. What was the collaborative framework under which these architectural experiments were imagined and constructed. Several of Dieste’s public works were commissioned and built during the longest spanning military dictatorship in Uruguay, from 1973 to 1985. However, it is known and documented that Dieste was actively opposed to this overtly authoritarian form of politics. It can be argued that the Latin American military governments of the late 20th century did not manifest power through architectural form in the same way fascism did during the first half of the century. How does Dieste’s architecture situate itself within this unarticulated sense of architectural form as politics. Exploring the relationship between building technology and politics is a fundamental way of articulating the impact of history on contemporary architecture. To study the implications of this relationship, Federico Garcia Lammers and the Department of Architecture at South Dakota State University have organized a study abroad program based in Montevideo, Uruguay. A portion of this program focuses on the politicization of material practices through the examination of Dieste’s work. Material Technocracy seeks to examine the ways in which Eladio Dieste’s work can contribute to methods of making that are relevant to contemporary building processes and current socio-political conditions in small communities.