Canadian Architect


Eladio Dieste: A Principled Builder at Carleton University

January 19, 2007
by Canadian Architect

The Carleton University School of Architecture, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Office of the Dean of Engineering and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Architecture present this architectural exhibition at the David Azrieli Gallery. The exhibition is curated by Stanford Anderson, and the photographs are by Yoshihiro Asada.

“Light is a brick!”

Eladio Dieste, Uruguayan engineer, embraced a little-known technique, reinforced masonry, inventing appropriate structural types that he daringly exploited. He was a builder. Innovations in construction were integral to his engineering insights. He built prodigiously, mostly humble structures for storing and making. Yet even these works were raised to higher levels: the sheer daring of great spans with impossibly little material was one step. Other qualities emerge: the proportion of the whole; the economy and elegance of the material, the details of the parts, and above all, the knowing use of light. These are the qualities of a fine architect. With a few, all too rare special opportunities, Dieste proved undeniably to be an architect.

Dieste was committed to scientific theory and to principle in all aspects of life. He would not have realized his brilliant and innovative works had he relied on the conventions of ordinary practice; instead he began from first principles in physics. We learn that such adherence to first principles does not inhibit, but rather enhances the search for sound forms appropriate to the demands they must meet. It is physically possible to do what is unreasonable, but working from principles one is not led to the unreasonable. With Dieste, one enters upon brilliant work by a man of principle, revealing a process of designing and building that is also principled.

Eladio Dieste was born in Artigas, on the Brazilian border of Uruguay, in 1917. He enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering in the capital city of Montevideo, graduating in 1943. In 1946, Dieste realized his first reinforced brick vault while collaborating with the Catalan architect Anton Bonet on the Berlinghieri house in Punta Ballena, Uruguay. In 1954, Dieste and Eugenio Montaez formed a partnership for both design and construction.

The exhibition will be open to the public from January 24th through February 16th, 2007. The Gallery is open Monday through Saturday 11:00am until 4:00pm (Wednesdays until 7:00pm).

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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