Burle Marx, Roberto

Burle Marx, Roberto
▪ 1995

      Brazilian landscape architect (b. Aug. 4, 1909, São Paulo, Brazil—d. June 4, 1994, near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), transformed his native land by replacing European-style formal gardens with lush tropical native flora. A Renaissance man—sculptor, jewelry designer, ceramicist, amateur opera singer, and painter—Burle Marx fashioned gardens with the eye of an abstract artist. While studying (1928) art in Berlin, he became entranced with the tropical plants populating that city's botanical garden, and he began studies at Dahlem Botanical Gardens. After returning to Brazil, he converted his home into a tropical plant paradise, eventually surrounding it with 800,000 sq m (8.6 million sq ft) of gardens brimming with thousands of rare species. He was particularly fond of Brazilian orchids, palms, water lilies, and bromeliads. Some of his most breathtaking commissions included Rio's Flamengo Park, a 122-ha (300-ac) expanse of land reclaimed from the sea, which included lawns, playing fields, an artificial beach, and an automobile parkway; the hanging gardens of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasília; and the Brazilian pavilion at the Brussels International Exposition of 1958. He also did landscaping for the UNESCO Building, Paris (1963); the U.S. embassy, Brasília (1967, 1972); the Iranian embassy, Brasília (1971); and the international airport, Rio de Janeiro (1978). He was one of the first to criticize the destruction of rain forests, and he protested against the government's move to enclose parks behind cast-iron fences, which he viewed as sequestering the city in a cage.

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▪ Brazilian landscape architect
born Aug. 4, 1909, São Paulo, Brazil
died June 4, 1994, near Rio de Janeiro
 Brazilian landscape (garden and landscape design) architect who created many outstanding gardens in association with important modern buildings. He replaced European-style formal gardens with his own country's lush tropical flora.

      While studying in art (1928) in Germany, Burle Marx became interested in the tropical plants at the Dahlem Botanical Gardens. After his return to Brazil in 1930, he converted his home into a tropical plant centre, eventually surrounding it with 8,600,000 square feet (800,000 square m) of gardens brimming with thousands of rare species. He was particularly fond of Brazilian orchids, palms, water lilies, and bromeliads.

      Burle Marx designed his first garden for the house of Lúcio Costa, who was later one of the architects of the Ministry of Education and Health building (1937–43) in Rio de Janeiro. Burle Marx designed hanging gardens for that building, using Brazilian flora exclusively. Among the many important commissions for gardens that followed were those for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brasília, the Brazilian pavilion at the Brussels International Exposition of 1958, and the Parque del Este of Caracas, Venez., in 1959. In 1962 Burle Marx designed Flamengo Park, a 300-acre (122-hectare) expanse of reclaimed land along Rio de Janeiro's waterfront. He did landscaping for the UNESCO Building, Paris (1963), the U.S. Embassy, Brasília (1967, 1972), the Iranian Embassy, Brasília (1971), and the International Airport, Rio de Janeiro (1978).

      Besides his landscape gardening, Burle Marx was a painter and a designer of jewelry, fabrics, and stage sets. He was also one of the first prominent figures in Brazil to criticize that country's destruction of its rainforests.

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Universalium. 2010.

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