Architect Jorge Hue, on the day he turned 90, at his home in Rio. Photo: Marcos Pinto

“My suspicion comes from a comment Oscar Wilde made in the preface to The Portrait of Dorian Gray. He goes something like this: 'When you talk about yourself, you are always complacent or downright corrosive.' But if you are on a desert island, lying on the sand, without the need for a wicker mat, as Vinicius sang in Afternoon in Itapoã, but letting thought run and flow, life emerges in a kaleidoscopic way. Everything you did and felt comes through much more clearly.”

Jorge Hue's observation, on the morning of this Friday, August 6, 2013, the day he turns 90, comes voluntarily, and follows the initial comment that we should go through chronological moments to draw a profile that would give account of summarizing, in a few pages, his irreproachable professional trajectory. But Hue, who shelved his sociologist degree to make history as an architect, doesn't really want the spotlight, nor does he want to turn to his own belly button to sing the laurels of the past.

Moved by this dominant tonic, with impressive serenity and knowledge, Hue begins to expound on a series of issues. And so he carries the conversation from start to finish, with a subtlety that makes his exploits almost imperceptible. He doesn't explicitly talk about himself, but it says a lot about who he is. In addition, it offers valuable lessons in wisdom. So the conversation that follows, like the works of his peers Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, who designed the modern building where he lives in Parque Guinle, will remain structurally uncluttered and objective. Without major interventions, let's dispense with the superfluous. After all, less will always be more, as Mies van der Rohe, one of his masters, opened wide.

Desire
The only things I would like to have always stayed with me: lucidity, generosity and courage. It would be very difficult that someone like me could have had seven children, 16 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren – in fact, the 12o is about to arrive! – without having the sense of courage and generosity present in my life all the time. Courage must be in everything. She is not silly optimism, on the contrary, she is permanent comfort with everything.

Romana – Bathroom with shower, toilet, bidet and massage bed, Roman inspired. Rio de Janeiro, 1962

Rehearsals and a letter
I have a large amount of texts on the most varied subjects, which I have never published, and I also intended to publish a book of essays on this date, but I did not complete them. It's just that anytime I can write them down, or just lie on the floor and dictate this whole thing. I can do a daydream and record. Why not? There are nine essays and, finally, an open letter to the grandson of one of my great-grandchildren. The essays are about practical things, like the pen, the pencil, the beard, so as not to bother anyone. Small digressions on objects and amusements. The first essay is about the revitalization of time. another is called Pharaoh's Beard. I am very interested in the history of the beard, I have a book called Thousand Beard. In fact, after years and years of shaving enslavement, I discovered, three years ago, how comfortable it is not to shave (Hue always wore a mustache). Another test is called The Moon and the Wheel. But why the moon? Because the wheel did not come about as an intuitive thing, and it is totally intuitive. Suffice it to say this: the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas did not have wheels. And, if you observe the full moon, of course you should intuit the wheel. Of course, the Roman chariots, and even the Egyptian ones, already had wheels, but that does not mean that it was consolidated. Africa until then was unaware of the wheel. Asia did not yet have the wheel.

Three women and love
Before the letter I will leave for my great-grandson, there will be a rehearsal called the three women. They are: Our Lady, mother of Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene and Madame de Warens (Françoise-Louise de Warens), who was the one who initiated Jean-Jacques Rousseau in love. For him, it was the discovery of knowledge together with something sublimated, which is the idea of ​​a sex more connected to nature, to knowledge, to delicacy, to touch, to smell, to heat, to proximity, to the identification of ideas. . The peripatetic path, a whole series of revelations so extraordinary for Rousseau that, for a number of reasons, when, after three idyllic years, he had to give up all that and returned to her, only two years later he found Madame de Warens married and unhappy. It was then that he totally lost his security, that he lost Paradise.”

world mutations
Ninety years is a reasonable life. I have lived and seen so many things that I have no idea what will happen in 180 years. The gallop that we were driven by the evolution of information technology puts us in a total disposability. Even stable things, like architecture, become prey to vicissitudes that no one can program. The Manchete Building, for example, because it belongs to Oscar (the architect Oscar Niemeyer), is listed by IPHAN. They can't change anything, so in a way he's a convict. From the point of view of security, technology, lack of computer terminals, speed in elevators, vulnerability of window frames, bad situation of the entire air conditioning system and the disease of time itself, which corrodes certain concrete construction processes, it cannot it's perennial. Perennials are the pyramids of Egypt. Even objects have in them the microbe of death itself.

class of notables
I read a very interesting book, Rare flowers (Rare flowers e banal, by Carmen L. Oliveira, newly adapted for cinema by Bruno Barreto), which tells the story of Elizabeth Bishop and Lota de Macedo Soares. When Aterro do Flamengo was conceived, obviously very good people joined the project, not only Lota, but Roberto Burle Marx, Reidy (the architect Affonso Eduardo Reidy), who made the MAM project, Lucio Costa, Alcides Rocha Miranda, people of the best quality. The landfill could have been a clue, but it has been turned into an amazing garden. I also do justice here to Luiz Emygdio de Mello Filho, who was not only a doctor, he was, above all, an extraordinary botanist. With Roberto he worked on the meticulous choice of species for coexistence. The garden itself is a monument of successes, as it has the microbe of its own transformation, it is a living thing. We have palm trees and babassu trees that die after the age of 40. At the end of their lives, palm trees, for example, give a wonderful tassel, they die, and are naturally replaced, because, in the sequence of centuries, those seeds that have fallen will germinate other palm trees.

Retrospective work – The photos and drawings reproduced here are part of the book Jorge Hue (published by Contracpa). Launched in 2010, it brings together images of works, testimonies from professionals and friends about the architect

Lucio costa
A first architect was called (for the construction of the building where Jorge Hue lives). This fellow had a project that was a series of French buildings. The heirs felt the impropriety of the gesture and asked Lucio for a consultation, who said: 'This here is going to be transformed into a large slave quarters in the palace' (the Palácio Laranjeiras, which is located inside Parque Guinle and is the official residence of the governor of Rio de Janeiro, although the current one, Sérgio Cabral, did not choose to live there). And Lucio created this unprecedented thing, of making a series of buildings, all embedded in the basic principles of Le Corbusier – pilotis, loose and independent slabs, almost the pre-idea of ​​a loft, with large areas of deposits where support columns emerge, a brise and a brick clautra, which filter the adventures of the Sun. The only points of determination of a technical requirement are the hydraulic points. Other than that, you can remove all the other elements of the apartment and it becomes a unique space. An absolutely extraordinary idea. The building was built from 1943 to 1948. The initial project called for seven buildings, but only three were built. The real estate venture was a failure, people were completely dizzy living in a unique space like this.

Improvisations on the Plateau
The first time I was invited to work at Palácio do Planalto, during the Costa e Silva government, I came across the following scene: a relatively long room, with a squat ceiling, glass on the sides, glass on the back and the savannah as a landscape! There was a wooden sofa and some sort of side benches, reminiscent of those trunks of cones on which elephants are called, in the circus, to put one foot on top and lift their trunk. In a rush to inaugurate the Palácio do Planalto – and the government had plenty of money on hand, but it didn't import real furniture – replicas of pieces by Mies van der Rohe were placed there. All made with gold metal and screw. They cracked over time. Backyard copies, made with a hammer.

Marx, Burle Marx
My house was invaded by a series of police officers at three o'clock in the morning. They were in plain clothes, but all armed. There was a collection of books, they took a series of suspicious titles from my library. One of them, by Burle Marx, immediately caught their attention. They said: “Please, you have the need to accompany us to the Ministry of Aeronautics”. Treated correctly, we went to Santos Dumont airport, in the Air Space Command. I entered, around 5 am, when I saw, without being able to exchange a word with them, two friends of mine, husband and wife. I was taken to another small room, where I was interrogated. I answered several questions, but was taken back to my house.

Replacement – ​​The architect was called to São Paulo to complement an apartment that was only in the skeleton, after the death of the author of his project. “The setting was catastrophic, muddy and drippy,” he recalled. The result was like this

prison memory
After some time, Jorge Eduardo (Jorge Eduardo Hue, son of the architect, who fought against the military regime) lived clandestinely, other friends were missing. A very nice young man, the son of a diplomat who had contact with Jorge Eduardo, was tortured and mentioned my name. I had gone to take the Planalto Palace project, which was mine, from Bernardo (the carioca architect Bernardo Figueiredo) and Roberto (landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx). When I got back home, I saw a strange guy, with his back turned, peeing, and I was stopped by a world of bullshit. I just asked them to let me park the car in the garage, but I couldn't enter the house because it was surrounded. I learned later that it had been broken into and the phones cut off. I was hooded and made to squat in the back seat of a passenger car. We stopped at a barracks on Rua Barão de Mesquita – something I learned later, only when I left. Hooded, I was taken to a cold room and forced to take off all my clothes. Absolutely naked, they left me alone. Cold and damn hot, ranging from 5 to 30 degrees. With a regular frequency, they came in groups of three, always asking the same ordinary questions: name, nationality, mother's name, father's name... Shortly after, the questions became more dense until reaching the situation in which the treatment was changed. Everything was getting worse... My son's girlfriend called a bitch, Jorge Eduardo called a fag... When he was left alone he heard screams, howls, moans, murmurs and the sound of beatings. At the end of all this interrogation, one of these fellows gave me a tremendous jolt. Hours and hours passed until three more came, who took me out of there and made me put on a blue jumpsuit. At this point, with the cold I was feeling, the overalls came in handy. They then led me down one of the corridors to a place where the floor was damp, smelling of urine. I saw lying on the floor, naked and moaning, a girl of 17, 18 years old. I watched her from under the hood and realized that she was very fragile. She was whimpering, asking for a doctor. I was led by two uniformed comrades to my cell. A rectangular cell. There was a sink in it, on the right a cracked toilet and a pipe in the wall, a pseudoshower... That's the immoral thing about this business. These boys, who gratuitously treated me with the greatest stupidity, were only young men in military service. They had no political convictions and were not there defending any flag. They were driven by sheer stupidity.

Freedom?
They came again to interrogate me. They brought an A4-size clipboard, an ink pencil, a kind of purple color, indelible, and the paper was lined, in loose sheets. An extensive questionnaire. “Who is De Gaulle?”. “To what extent are you connected to the Communist Party?”. Again they mentioned the names of my friends, they wanted to know about my connections with the boy, who, after being electrically shocked, denounced me. My placement was none as far as I have it now. I only helped people from organizations. I copiously answered the questions. I wrote, wrote... When I finished, a meganha came who asked me for papers and pencils so I wouldn't be able to commit suicide (laughs). After that, a photo session. Front, profile, numbered… It was almost night when they took me to the same bathroom and the girl was still there, sitting in the same position. Me, barefoot and in overalls, again with a hood. Then came a comrade who asked a series of questions and said: 'By reading your questionnaire we found a sincere statement, and you will be released.' About two months later, I got a call from someone saying he was in the Army and that I needed to go get some things that were of interest to me. Concerned, I spoke to my brother-in-law, who is a lawyer: 'Look João, I'm going to the Ministry of War' (the episode took place in January 1972, during the Medici government, which ironically hired Hue's services.). I entered a room, there were bags and a large amount of my books, including Burle Marx (laughs).

Perfectionism – Detailed drawing of a salon in Rio de Janeiro, made in 1956

Four wheels
It took me many years to feel entitled to buy a convertible car. I bought one second hand, but in very good condition. He had seven children, and they had the preference. To give me the right to buy the car, I did a two-year study to find out how many perfect days there were in Rio de Janeiro, days on which I could declare a national holiday. They must be preceded and succeeded by another perfect day, otherwise they could not be considered perfect. I found 11 days a year. It was then that I gave myself the right to have the car. On those perfect days I would leave in the morning, arrive at a certain point in Barra, and, when I saw the Pedra da Gávea on the opposite side, I would return home. I have never had an object in my life that I liked as much as I liked this car, a 1958 MG convertible. I had it for ten years, from 1975 to 1985. When I sold it I was absolutely sure it was getting old.

Beyond life
For a 90-year-old person, life parades impressively. And, of course, it was always worth living. Things merge: joys, sorrows, everything you've conquered. But I don't need a date to celebrate these things. From a certain point on they are always present. And there's no morbid sense in it. On the contrary, even my little friend death is as joyful as the good things in life.

After nearly three hours of pleasant conversation, interspersed with about 20 phone calls from family and friends eager to congratulate Hue on his 90th birthday, the interview comes to an end. The meeting was witnessed by political scientist Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, founder of the Center for the Study of Violence at the University of São Paulo – USP, member of the Truth Commission, and President of the UN Commission for Syria. Cover character for the August 2012 issue of Brazilian, Paulo Sérgio has been Hue's unconditional friend since the 1960s. It was he who, in a gesture of courage and loyalty, welcomed Jorge Eduardo, the son of the architect, who was persecuted by the Medici government, in São Paulo. On such a special day, Paulo Sérgio made a point of taking the aerial bridge to visit his great friend and his inseparable companion, Anna Luiza, a kind of Madame de Warens de Hue – although, of course, he was luckier than that of Rousseau.

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