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A Rhetoric of Hygiene: Juan O'Gorman's Functionalism and the Futures of the Mexican Cityscape

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Artículo de revistaAntebi, Susan. (University of Toronto, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Canadá). A Rhetoric of Hygiene: Juan O'Gorman's Functionalism and the Futures of the Mexican CityscapeJournal of Latin American Cultural Studies, 2012 vol. 21 no. 4 p. 535-556. Palabras claves:
Ciudades, Urbanismo, Arquitectura
Juan O'Gorman / Urbanismo / Arquitectura / Higienismo / Análisis del discurso
Siglo XX


This article analyses the concept of hygiene in Mexican functionalist architect Juan O'Gorman's written manifestos and building projects from the early 1930s. O'Gorman's technical notion of hygiene, in which architecture addresses social inequality, and describes a fluid system of exchange between bodies and the built spaces they inhabit, both overlaps and conflicts with a broader nationalist version of hygiene geared towards a eugenic and aesthetic vision of Mexico's future. In 1932 O'Gorman began collaboration with the Secretaría de Educación Pública on the design of a series of urban primary schools, in accordance with a hygenicist-eugenic logic to promote the health and well-being of the family and the future of the nation. This project, as well as O'Gorman's writing of the period, exemplifies the architect's insistence on the technical over the aesthetic, and the ways in which the rhetoric of hygiene serves to highlight conflicts between an overarching revolutionary nationalist project, and the immediate technical and social goals of building design. Analysis of O'Gorman's work reveals not only the origins of his eventual disillusion with the state-sponsored logic of building for a Mexican future, but also the crucial role of hygiene itself as symptomatic of a multiple and fractured post-revolutionary discourse.

Ceisal Redial © REDIAL & CEISAL. Responsabilidad editorial: Araceli García Martín - AECID (Madrid, España),
Jussi Pakkasvirta - Ceisal (Helsinki, Finlandia).
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