Building for Experience

architect Isay Weinfeld
interviewed by Vera Grimmer


Interviewed at the Architekturzentrum Wien, Vienna, on 16 December 2014, on the occasion of the exhibition A to Z. The world of Isay Weinfeld


Isay Weinfeld is a versatile creator. His range of work extends from utilitarian objects to public spaces to a temple. Nevertheless, he has shown his outstanding creative quality on a myriad of individual private residences. They are equally characterized by concise, functionalist logic and atmospheric qualities. His materials and his way of using them awaken the senses and emotions, demonstrating the links with regional tradition. Weinfeld thus achieves a specific, regional variant of modernism. His works represent a subtle synthesis of his numerous and diverse interests and skills. Not only a filmmaker, he also uses dramatic film and theatre composition in his private residences, commercial establishments, restaurants, and public buildings, thus emphasizing the experiential value of his architecture.


ORIS: We could begin the interview by talking about the great tradition of Brazilian Modernism which had an impact on European architecture and on architecture in Croatia as well, particularly the works of Oscar Niemeyer, Lúcio Costa, and Lina Bo Bardi. Is this tradition still alive? Does it still have an impact on the work of architects today?


Weinfeld: Yes. Sure. At least in Brazil it still has a great impact, especially because all professors talk a lot about the masters. When I was a student, they talked so much about this topic that, at one point, I couldn’t stand it anymore. Perhaps, this is what led me to experiment in other fields. It was too much for me. It is very important to learn about their work, of course – to appreciate it or not, to engage with it or not. You have mentioned Lina Bo Bardi, she is by far my favourite. She is the most important architect in Brazil, in my opinion. Her work is very special, very subtle and very elegant; it really touches me. It is important to learn about the masters at university, still, it is also important to develop your own professional identity, to be independent. I feel there are many children and grandchildren of the masters who repeat the same idiom, and this isn’t so great.