Rio de Janeiro is famous for its beaches and night-life, but what about its architecture? Do you know that the city has a district called Flamengo with innumerous art déco buildings? Many buildings were constructed in the late thirties and forties. Flamengo also has some design buildings that follow the eclectic style, similar to Chicago´s Louis Sullivan. Until the 1950s, Flamengo and Catete were the principal residential zones of Rio’s wealthier middle classes and that may be the reason why some of these landmark buildings were constructed here. Some of the art pearls include the famous Biarritz, Flamengo “little Castle” , Tabor Loreto, and and even a Carioca version of New York’s legendary Dakota building Let us now walk through some of these living treasures.
Biarritz Building: Perhaps the most well known building in Flamengo district is definitely the Biarritz Building, located at Praia do Flamengo, 268 (268 Flamengo Beach). Considered an art-deco masterpiece in Rio, the Biarritz has its construction finalized in the beginning of the 40´s, being a copy of an existing building in Paris, on Montaigne Avenue. This art-déco landmark was designed by French architects Auguste Rendu and Henri Paul Pierre Sajous, who designed two other art deco structures in Flamengo: the Tabor Loreto Building (Flamengo beach corner with Paysandu) and the Saint Trinity Church (located at Senador Vergueiro Street ) built in 1938. Some of the reasons for Biarritz’s elegance fame include its rounded balcony with its yellow awning and imposing marble entrance hallway. The Biarritz has 2 apartments per floor and a unique winter garden in Rio designed with a lovely water fountain.
Seabra Building: Designed by Italian architect Mário Vodret, from the Instituto Profissionalizante de Roma, the Seabra Building, a.k.a. the Carioca Dakota, was finalized in mid 30s, the second building at Flamengo Beach. The Seabra Building is considered the most “ghostly” in Brazil, with its eclectic architecture mixing the Moorish, the Gothic and Tuscan elements. Experts identify Seabra building’s lines with Chicago architect Louis Sullivan The building has 4 apartments per floor and a facade that greatly resembles the famous Dakota building, John Lennon’s home in New York. A legend says the Portuguese Commendatore Gervásio Seabra commissioned Vodret the building after falling in love with the architecture of a castle in Tuscany. The building’s psychedelic entrance was built to haunt: floors with several designs made of Italian marble, different wall paintings finished with whale oil and immense iron luster.
Flamengo “Castle” – Castelinho do Flamengo: Designed in 1916 by Gino Copede, it had its plan signed by Francisco de Santos, since Copede was Italian. Originally, it was the residence of the Portuguese construction mogul Commendatore Joaquim da Silva Cardoso. The building, which sometimes is referred to as the haunted house, shows eclectic art-nouveau architecture mixed with gothic and baroque lines. Nevertheless, the Italian tendency stands out, with a high slate-roof-tiled tower. Abandoned for several years and damaged from a fire, the building was restored by the City Hall and from 1993 on, the Castelinho do Flamengo has held the Cultural Center Oduvaldo Vianna Filho, (doing honor to the Brazilian playwright). Today the Castelinho do Flamengo offers rooms for video exhibitions and theatrical performances, a coffee bar, and a video library with 1800 movies in its catalogue.
Tabor Loreto Building: Taking over the corner of Praia do Flamengo with Rua Paissandú, the project of Henri Sajous articulated the two facades of the building through the cylindrical volume of the corner, which was furnished with glass and grated with delicate ornamentations, smoothing the encounter of the two ´portions of the building. The result is an elegant and proportional set of lines.
Paysandu Hotel: This is another epoch building worthwhile paying a visit. The Hotel façade and the hotel hanging sign couldn’t represent more the art deco style. The hotel reached its popularity peak in the fifties, when it accommodated Uruguay National Soccer Team during the 1950 World Cup in Rio. Uruguay eventually won the cup adding prestige to the hotel. Botafogo, one of the most traditional soccer teams in Rio, also used to Paysandu Hotel to prepare for its important games. Mythical soccer player Mané Garrincha and Nilton Santos were frequent guests of Paysandu Hotel.
These are only some of Flamengo’s architectural gems. Other art buildings in the neighborhood include the Modern Art Museum, Julieta de Serpa teahouse and the outstanding twin buildings Hicatú and Itaúba at Senador Euzébio street. Visiting Flamengo, if you are careful enough, you will be able to find a pearl in every walk, apart from its natural beauties. If you love architecture and art, try to settle in this charming neighborhood on your next trip to Rio. But don’t forget to bring your camera along! Original photos of these buildings in Flamengo can be found at Belavista´s Rio Carnival Blog.