Brazilian architect putting people into building design

Fernando Brando was the chief designer of the striking green Brazil Pavilion at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, one of the most popular pavilions at the six-month event.

Brazil Pavilion, one of the most popular national pavilions at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai

Seven years have passed, but many residents in Shanghai still clearly remember the lively World Expo 2010 and those exotic national pavilions, including the Brazil Pavilion, a striking rectangular green structure with walls resembling the outside of a bird’s nest.

It was one of the most popular pavilions, besides China, Germany and Saudi Arabia.

Fernando Brandao, the pavilion’s chief designer, is a world-renowned Brazilian architect. He has so far been involved in nearly 2,000 projects around the world, including the Livaria Cultura Paulista, the biggest bookstore in South America.

Last week, Brandao was in town for an exhibition that is showcasing his design concepts and projects at the Global Harbor shopping mall in Putuo District. The exhibition runs through April 22.

A graduate from the University of Sao Paulo, Brandao started his own office in 1996 and since then has developed several projects in retail, industrial, corporate and residential areas.

From 2000 to 2005, he was the vice president of the Brazilian Association of Architecture Offices.

“Architecture is belonging,” Brandao said at the opening ceremony of his exhibition in Shanghai. “Five words — accessibility, sustainability, connectivity, individuality and humanity — well echo my concepts of architectural design.”

In 2013, Brandao, in cooperation with the DETAO Group, opened his architecture and design studio at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art in suburban Songjiang District. In addition to a series of design projects such as the Moganshan Casa Resort in Zhejiang Province and the Latina BBQ restaurant in Shanghai, his firm also hosts lectures and short courses.

“Accessibility is the thought of inclusion. We need to think of inclusion — inclusion of all different needs,” he explains. “Sustainability is the responsibility to protect the world as a designer and improve our living environment — and make a profit.”

In early 2008, Brandao started courses at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Sao Paulo and Milan.

“The prevailing technology will always be an influence in our life,” he says. “We should include that reality in our creations — how technology is changing our behavior.”

He stresses that architecture is, in the end, about people.

“Everything we design is about people," he says. "From the concept to the details, we have to think about who we are designing for and what makes them unique.”

Ti Gong

Brazilian architect Fernando Brandao

Q: What message did you want to send through the Brazil Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo?

A: My main intention was to present the day-to-day life of the Brazilian people and to make the Chinese public understand that we are similar, that we have similar routines, that we have the same desires and problems in life and at the same time show the cultural, landscape and economic wealth of Brazil.

Q: South American designers are noted for their passion and preference for warm colors. Are you influenced by Brazilian culture, and is it reflected in your designs?

A: Of course. Every artist must be sensitive to the world in which he lives; he must translate his time and place.

Q: You mentioned accessibility, sustainability, connectivity, identity and humanity as the critical elements when designing a project. Which is the most important?

A: All the five concepts are important to the thinking of contemporary architect and designer. These concepts are important for us to think about a more interesting future for ordinary people, who should enjoy their homes, neighborhoods and cities more fully. 

When people feel that they belong to the place and the space, they feel safe, comfortable and are inspired to live their lives with more happiness.

Q: Who is your favorite architect?

A: I really like Brazilian designers Marcelo Rosembaum and Irmaos Campana.

Q: Which architect in China impressed you the most?

A: In China, I really like architect Wang Shu. I see in his work a very beautiful appreciation and reinterpretation of Chinese roots and identity, which are at the same time universal.

Ti Gong

Fernando Brandao's studio in Shanghai

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