By the 1920s the influence of modern architecture reached Latin America when many specialized magazines, national and international, invaded the region. Brazil and Mexico were the main drivers of modern architecture in the region. This situation came together with cultural questioning European and Central & South American supremacy as the unique source of development, which led to an anti- imperialist feeling which has characterized the region up to the present.
The Mexican Revolution ( 1910-1917), marked the first step by stating the need for modernization. The muralist first created a modern expression with a national accent, which was the first Latin American expression influenced by European pictoric elements, but at the same time totally independent, since it was rooted on local ideas.
Afterwards, architecture played its role, trying to awake in people an innate knowledge based on their historical and cultural richness.
As a result, architecture in that time, intended to search in its past in order to create a proper style fulfilling the needs of modern society.
However, the influence of European pictorial trends and incorporation of modern trends such as Cubism and Surrealism, gave to this architectural expression an avant – garde sense adapted to the site, its landscape and climate.
The idea of regionalism has gained strength in architecture aimed at recovering marginal and even lost local differences. Critical Regionalism appears as a strategy to counteract the lack of significance of today’s architecture. Therefore, it calls on globalization to become the resource for exploration of the latent creative potential that exists in every one of the regions, and to integrate this potential within a new global context.
The issue of architecture in the age of globalization is that, given the increase of foreign influences in a culture, these influences end up being adopted, but not adapted to the context of each region, this creates , in effects, a destruction of what is considered authentic and traditional.
Since every culture has always depended on its intrinsic development of certain cross fertilization through the contact with other cultures, this fertilization creates the essence of Latin American modern architecture, which in response to Europe’s cultural domination, became a way of resistance and encouraged the whole region to take the initiative.
Latin American architecture 60 years ago became famous due to its rooting and identity, despite being faithful expression of modernity, the rules of which were against all legacy of the past and autochthonous values. Unfortunately, its sudden success vanished as a result of the political, social and economic circumstances of an unstable period for the region.
However, the sense of post modernity today leads the region to a more pluralist view which values these lost local connotations aiming at the same time to recover its essence by reinterpreting it. The internationalization of Brazilian architect Roberto Burle Marx’s works is a proof, which has been mimicked in other countries. Likewise, the influence of Mexican architect Luis Barragan is evident on foreign architects such as Japanese Tadao Ando. This is how the new concept of Critic Regionalism appears by calling today’s architects to take the same approach before used in this region : to obtain a better relationship with topography, climate and culture, to develop a sense of a place through being aware, to respect local conditions, and to appropriate modern technology and its practices. This is the reach of Latin American modern architecture: it has the bases for a true regionalism or an intelligent Latin Americanism, creative and without racism which took the best the world imposed up until then, but then proceeded to assimilate and reinterpret it to produce a style in its own right in order to recreate a local identity rooted in tradition.