To and From: Modernism and
Vernacular, or popular architecture has been a major feld of study and inspiration since the beginning of the twentieth century, as evidenced by Bruno Zevi, among others. The Portuguese contribution to the state of the art, already strong in the 1960s, has been lately enriched by a notable step, a book edited by J. Cunha Leal , M. H. Maia and A. Cardoso. The latest result of a team-study sponsored since April 2010 by the Research Institute Arnaldo Araújo, of the Escola Superior de Estudos Artistica in Porto,“To and Fro. Modernism and Vernacular Architecture: a critical look”, leads to new refections and new considerations on three diferent subjects, at least. The frst one has to do, quite simply, with the need of upgrading to some new historical materials, regarding the Portuguese-born Alfredo d’ Andrade, for instance. The second point, related to the world of critics, has to do with the quite puzzling capability of vernacular architecture to become a substantial part of some of the leading paths of the modernist avant-garde, as shown for instance by Gio Ponti, Luigi Cosenza and Benard Rudofsky . The third consideration deals with the debate on preservation, still relevant today: specifcally, with the ability of popular, vernacular, local languages to act as practical responses to some modern and yet “opportunistic and commercial languages in architecture”.