Artacho Jurado – Unexpected gems in São Paulo architecture
João Artacho Jurado (1907-1983) was the proprietor of construction company Monções Construturas and was responsible for the project and construction of several outlandish residential buildings in the 1940’s and 1950’s in downtown São Paulo and adjacent neighborhood Higienópolis. With a background in sign making and advertising, and a pioneer in suburban grid planning, Jurado wasn’t a trained architect nor affiliated with any particular cultural movement. His father was a famed anarchist who instilled in him freedom from institutions as it is said Jurado didn’t attend schools growing up.
Jurado’s architectural oddities associated disparate stylistic references and marked the condominium emergence in the S.P. capital – the Bretagne, 1959, for example, is said to be the first building in São Paulo to include a swimming pool in its common area, along with a piano room, game room and rooftop terrace bar, as well as being one of the first buildings in São Paulo to offer a wide range of apartment sizes.
Channeling a romantic eclecticism, through the post-war sentiment of economic expansion and consumerism, Jurado’s designs conflate neo-classicism, art nouveau, art deco, modernism and others styles, amounting to fantastical edifices (think Disney, or The Jetsons) that integrated collective living and social leisure through the residential site.
Though praised by some critics at the time, Jurado’s projects were snubbed by many of his Brazilian contemporaries as his signature palette of pinks, blues and yellows, gilded walls, fixtures and tiling, destabilized and integrated high and low, kitsch and high-industrialism. Jurado’s legacy illustrates the willful and idiosyncratic nature of a practice outside an institutional discourse, as it reveals a brand of mid-century design that favors a democratic and whimsical use of materials, function and form over the often rigid methodologies of the time.