A film by Heinz Emigholz
2017, 95 minutes
No. 174

A prologue examines three buildings from the 1930s designed by Julio Vilamajó in Montevideo which could have inspired the work of Eladio Dieste, the subject of this documentary. The industrial and functional buildings presented span the period from 1955 to 1994; their organic brick construction is astonishing and inspiring. Emigholz’s camera gives itself over to the elegantly curved lines, reveling in the buoyant, graceful shell architecture, which lets both air and light pass through, while also examining its surroundings to discover parallels in nature. Then the camera makes its way in turn through dismal, rubbish-strewn industrial areas to cathedral-like factory halls that house eerie mountains of unidentified substances. The epilogue “Dieste [Spain]” presents later buildings designed by the architect, smaller-scale copies of his larger church buildings. Closed off and compact, they come across like caricatures, out of place in the foreign setting. They form a sobering footnote that only illustrates the uniqueness of successful architecture all the more vividly.

Eladio Dieste
Eladio Dieste was born in Artigas, Uruguay in 1917. In 1943, he graduated as a construction engineer from the University of Montevideo. He and his wife Elizabeth Friedheim, a German-Jewish immigrant, had twelve children. Starting in 1945, he taught at the Department of Engineering at the University of Montevideo. He gathered practical experience in bridge building and as an architect for various companies. 

In 1946, Dieste built the first reinforced brick shell for the architect Antoni Bonet in
Maldonado. A spectacular load test proved that reinforced, double-curved brick shells are stronger than reinforced concrete. In 1956, Dieste and his former fellow student Eugenio Montañez founded a company that further developed this construction method and used it for most of his constructions.

He led a group of masons, concrete workers, and ceramicists whose great craftsmanship made it possible to carry out this new construction technique. Eladio Dieste’s innovations and alternative construction methods were more efficient than conventional methods for a long time and made it possible to build large spans in a manner never seen before. Today he is regarded as an outstanding construction-engineering artist comparable to Eugène Freyssinet, Robert Maillart and Heinz Isler. 

His writings on architecture and construction and his ideas on creating form and on the relationship between architecture and art establish him as a profound thinker on social architectonic practice. Dieste died in 2000 in Montevideo.

Official Selection, Berlin Film Festival
Official Selection, Viennale Film Festival

"Heinz Emigholz is the world’s most acute observer of architecture." - Variety

"Emigholz’s groundbreaking and spellbinding architectural films are, quite simply, cinematographic re-enactments of the immediate experience of spaces. With an often canted camera, he dissects the interior and exterior of a building, allowing the viewer to experience being there and, by studying a career of an architect, construct a biography solely based on the works, free of commentary." - Cinema Scope

"Dieste [Uruguay] explores the beautiful, undulating, highly engineered brick structures of an architect who advocated 'resistance through form.'" - Notebook

“Emigholz is renowned for his original style of capturing the essence and entirety of great buildings with his fixed camera." - Variety