When I first saw an image of De Rotterdam, by OMA, I knew I had seen something vaguely similar before somewhere; an older, more “anonymous” and “vernacular” precedent in a distant metropolis. I just couldn’t remember where, exactly.
Then, lo and behold, while looking through my photo archive today, I came across an image of that memory. The place: Sao Paulo, Brazil (where I was kindly shown around by Alex Pilis as well as Eduardo Aquino). After visiting the Copan by Niemeyer, we wandered into some neighbouring streets to see the surrounding area, and there was this unusual row of buildings which are adjoined up to a certain height and then detached above; a surreal combination of “traditional” row-houses topped off with “modern” free-standing buildings that is surely the result of local building regulations. Gotta love it.
I can’t help but wonder if these buildings –or better yet, the building regulation that shaped them– subliminally influenced the design of De Rotterdam. I doubt it, but you never know. In any case, here’s proof that a local building code and a vernacular architecture can provide high-architectural inspiration. Wait a minute…isn’t that the thesis of Delirious New York? Sigh. It sure is hard to be original these days.