The Imminence of an Event

Interview with architect Carla Juaçaba
PLAT Magazine, 2018

Carla Juaçaba is an architect who makes her work in a subjective, poetic way. Her choice of materials is not based on aligning herself to specific architectural trends but on the pure appreciation of how materials react to light, to contrast, and to its surroundings. This approach could be related to her architectural formation in a school that included artist Lygia Pape as an influential professor, or, more importantly, to the fact that she was born and practices architecture in Rio de Janeiro. As such her work exists in inevitable dialogue with the city’s exuberant landscapes. Around the rocks, the sea, and the forest, we and our buildings are small, and no formal grandiosity overcomes the richness of nature. As a response, Juaçaba’s architecture begins before it has a form; she creates a dialogue with the environment that is based on concept, symbolism, and poetry.

Last year, Carla Juaçaba Studio was announced the winner of the Architectural Review’s Emerging Architecture Awards 2018. Just after the announcement, we met for a conversation about her latest project: one of the chapels commissioned by the Vatican on the occasion of the 2018 Venice Biennale. The chapel consists of two mirrored metal structures that cross: one defines the line of the altar and another, close to the ground, suggests the nave. The project questions the limits of architecture and its conception as a closed space. The experience of the chapel shows that “being inside” does not necessarily relate to crossing a physical boundary. “Being inside,” in the case of the chapel, is a mixture of being aware of your environment and, at the same time, experiencing a place of worship, defined by the symbolical charge of a nave and cross.

Images courtesy Carla Juaçaba Studio. Photograph © Federico Cairoli
This interview was conducted in Portuguese. It has been translated and edited for clarity.
Published in Plat 8.0 Simplicity