Dezeen Magazine

Key projects by Paulo Mendes da Rocha photographed by Leonardo Finotti

Venice Architecture Biennale 2016: with Paulo Mendes da Rocha set to receive the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Architecture Biennale, here's a look at some of his best projects, shot by photographer Leonardo Finotti (+ slideshow).

Born in Brazil in 1928, Mendes da Rocha began his career in São Paulo. He established his office in 1955 and just two years later completed his first major project – the Athletic Club of São Paulo.

Paulo Mendes da Rocha chosen to receive Venice Biennale Golden Lion by Alejandro Aravena
Paulo Mendes da Rocha will receive the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016

As he developed his reputation, the architect designed a series of private houses, including one for himself.

The bulky concrete form and Modernist-influenced interiors of Casa Mendes da Rocha (1967), as well as projects like Casa Masetti (1970) and Casa King (1972) set the tone for what was to follow.

The warm reception received by his Brazilian pavilion at the 1970 Osaka Expo led to bigger commissions.

Although he narrowly lost out to Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in the contest for the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, he completed a string of public buildings, both in São Paulo and elsewhere in Brazil, in the 1970s and 80s.

James King house, São Paulo, Brazil
Mendes da Rocha's early projects include a series of private houses, including Casa King

Among these were the Estádio Serra Dourada (1975), the Museum of Contemporary Art at the University of São Paulo (1975), the Forma Furniture showroom (1987) and the Saint Peter Chapel (1987).

In the late 1980s, Mendes da Rocha was selected to design Brazilian Sculpture Museum, MuBE, while the 1990s saw him complete a renovation of Sao Paulo's oldest fine arts museum, the Pinacoteca do Estado, and build the FIESP Cultural Center.

A series of awards followed, including the Mies van der Rohe prize for Latin American architecture in 2000 and the Pritzker Prize in 2006.

Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo, Brazil
The 1990s saw the architect complete a renovation of Sao Paulo's oldest fine arts museum, the Pinacoteca do Estado

Despite international acclaim, Mendes da Rocha continued to work predominantly in his native country, and only took on a handful of projects abroad. Most of these projects were developed through partnerships with other Brazilian architects and studios.

Notable works in Brazil during this period include Patriarch Plaza in São Paulo (2002), Our Lady of the Conception Chapel in Recife (2006) and Cais das Artes in Vitoria (2008), and he also completed the National Coach Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.

Patriaca Square, São Paulo, Brazil
The Brazil Patriarch Plaza in São Paulo was developed through a partnership with fellow Brazilian architect Eduardo Colonelli

Mendes da Rocha will be awarded the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in a ceremony on 28 May 2016, as part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016. He was nominated for the prestigious award by this year's Biennale curator Alejandro Aravena.

A citation from Aravena and the board of Biennale directors praised the architect for the timelessness of his designs.

"Many decades after being built, each of his projects have resisted the test of time, both stylistically and physically," they said. "This astonishing consistency may be the consequence of his ideological integrity and his structural genius."

Past recipients of the award include architects Álvaro Siza, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and Richard Rogers. Last year the prize went to architect and philanthropist Phyllis Lambert.

All photography is by Leonardo Finotti, who has documented most of Mendes da Rocha's work.