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Factory of architecture and industrial heritage: a discussion on the adaptive reuse of prefabricated school buildings by João Filgueiras Lima in Bahia

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10:00 AM, Wednesday 31 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)
This article presents some possible strategies for the adaptive reuse of buildings remaining from the high-quality industrialized and prefabricated architecture designed and built by João Filgueiras Lima, Brazilian architect also known as Lelé, with the main objective of recharging industrial heritage and fighting for its sustainable development and better future. It aims to demonstrate how Lelé's prefabricated architecture was thought and built to meet diversity, specificities and transformations over the decades since its creation, and also to affirm its legacy today, when many of the school buildings that he conceived and produced were demolished, despite their importance as a modern and industrial heritage in Bahia and Brazil. After the constructions works of the capital Brasilia with Oscar Niemeyer in the 1960s, when in Abadiânia, a small town in the Brazil's countryside of Goiás, in the early 1980s, Lelé carried out the experience of designing a factory of prefabricated elements to build schools and bridges using modern and innovative production techniques, a modular dimension system and a collection of lightweight elements fabricated with reinforced mortar and with the only help of some local citizens who had never worked as builders before. This first experience with what Lelé called “Transitory Schools” is important to demonstrate how this streamlined, precise, sophisticated and efficient system and components can be used as example of industrialized and didactic construction, with easy replacement of damaged parts as well as facilitate future adaptations to respond to functional changes, with special attention to the need for good quality architecture at low cost, in a situation where it was crucial to make it possible. Following the experience in Abadiânia, Lelé built the School Factory in Rio de Janeiro and later, in Salvador, created the FAEC (Factory of Architecture and Community Equipment), which included several building programs and produced works of infrastructure and urban equipment for the city, in addition to building more than 40 two-story schools using more complex elements and facing problems such as: difficult access and topography, high population density and small plots in poor neighborhoods. The high performance and good quality of these buildings are still seen today. With the difficulty of adequate maintenance faced by many changes in the municipal administration over decades, in recent years many of these prefabricated schools have been demolished leaving some samples that are still able to be used adaptively. Two of of those reminiscent buildings are the Germano Tabacof Pavilion, at the School of Fine Arts, and the Iansã Module, at the Faculty of Architecture, both buildings on the campus of the Federal University of Bahia – UFBA. These buildings are a legacy of industrialization, prefabrication and modern architecture production in Bahia, and recent proposals for their adaptive reuse were developed by teams of architects, engineers, students and professors at the Faculty of Architecture at UFBA. It will be a pleasure to present and discuss these projects, facing the difficulties and advantages of designing with prefabricated industrial heritage.

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