Center Villa Lobos, São Paulo

São Paulo, Brazil


The unexecuted scheme for the 'Villa Lobos Center', comprising 21,700 square feet of stained glass and 33,800 square feet of hand-cut Roman mosaic, Venetian glass smalti and ceramic tilework, for Shopping Villa Lobos, a commercial mall in Brazil, designed by architect Julio Neves in São Paulo, Brazil.

"This project, sparked by Brian Clarke’s hugely successful contribution to the Center NorteShopping in Rio, will comprise four artworks in an extraordinary shopping center.  Brian Clarke’s proposal for the facade will make this building a landmark, as it is seen from the passing motorway, one of São Paulo’s main routes.  The design comprises the whole of the facade (ca. 20 x 156 m), dividing it into a monumental mosaic polyptich (originally an expression for a painting comprising an even number of segments centred around a main image). The centrepiece sets the overall theme of the artworks. It shows a page of a catalogue of the works of the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos as it was published by his French editor of his musical notations. Amorph forms are flying over it, reminiscent of the bodiless movement of music. Left and right of this Brian Clarke unfolds abstract compositions around forms that are moulded by the composer’s music. The theme of a graphic form that resembles a musical structure finds its central expression in the repeatedly used form of a complicated curve without end or beginning. It is complemented by an ovoid shape like the body of a guitar and another curved form that is open to interpretation as a balloon as well as a plectrum (a little device to pick the strings of a guitar).

The repetition of this curve, moulded after a section of a particular symphony, and the other two forms occur all throughout the designs. Although rooted in the life and music of this great Brazilian composer (not the least famous for his pieces of classical guitar music) Brian Clarke achieves entirely abstract compositions for all four artworks. The theme set by the facade (which would be produced in various mosaic techniques) is unfolded to abundance in the three huge stained glass domes above the main area. Every dome will comprise an area of several hundred square metres, transforming the experience of the spacious main court to a unique encounter with the magnificent power of colour. The graphic forms are filled with life by providing the templates for sparkling colours, rich variations of blue and green in the circular dome, from white to blue, green, orange and red in the rectangular and the triangular one." – Stefan Trümpler, from the book Brian Clarke–Linda McCartney: Collaborations.

"The intensity of downtown São Paulo is difficult to describe to those who don't know it. Somewhere between Charles Dickens' 'Hard Times' and Ridley Scott's 'Bladerunner', the frenzied complexity of this ultimate urban experience needs to be both acknowledged and contrasted. This is just the beginning of that task. The musician Heitor Villa Lobos combined folk tradition with avant-garde composition. This new center in São Paulo, located by the university, is named after him. The gigantic external mosaic and the skylights are all an attempt to bring something of contemporary and historical São Paulo into a transparent fusion of colour. Using ciphers particular to Villa Lobos, the plectrum and the guitar, I've made here a first attempt at creating a canopy of flickering, translucent interconnected shapes that replicate the impact of a net of foliage suspended above a forest." – Brian, from the 1998 monograph Projects.