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Joaquim Cardozo

Date Born.:

Engieneer, Poet, Surveyor, Caricaturist, Cartoonist


Joaquim Cardozo

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Last update: 22/08/2017

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Joaquim Maria Moreira Cardozo, structural engineer of many public palaces in Brasília and one of the greatest poets in Brazilian literature, was born on 26 August 1897 inRecife, to José Antônio Cardozo and Elvira Moreira Cardozo.

He studied at the Ginásio Pernambucano. With his colleagues from school he edited the newspaper O Arrabalde: órgão lítero-elegante, with its headquarters in Tejipió, where he made his literary debut publishing his first work entitled “Astronomiaalegre” (Happy Astronomy), in the 15 November 1913 edition.

The following year he became the caricaturist and cartoonist in the Sunday editions of the Diario de Pernambuco and the Diário da Tarde, along side Jader de Andrade, who wrote the texts.

Entering into the Engineering School in 1915, he interrupted his studies several times. His first job was as a topographer at the Geodesic Commission of Recife. He carried out topographical surveys of Recife’s surrounding area under the orders of the engineer Domingos Ferreira.

At Revista do Norte, his first poems were published and he also worked as an illustrator, creating an entire capital alphabet of vignettes (the initial capital letter of chapters, generally ornamented) with regional flower themes. In 1925, the magazine published his most famous poem, written in 1924:“Recifemorto” (Dead Recife).

In 1930, Joaquim Cardozo finished his engineering course at the Engineering School of Recife, having worked in this period as a drawer for the Department of Engineering on irrigation projects and drilling of wells, with the German engineer Von Tilling, for various municipalities in Pernambuco.

After the death of Von Tilling, Joaquim Cardozo, still a student (1929/1930), was charged with the irrigation project of one of the islands in the São Francisco River. Next, he carried out the calculations of the bridges of the first concrete-paved highway in Northeast Brazil, contracted by the State Government with the firm Dolabela & Portela.

From 1931, as a newly-graduated engineer, he worked at the State Secretary for Transit and Public Works, mainly as a highway engineer. In 1934, Joaquim Cardozo joined the team of architect LuizNunes, specially hired by the State Government to set up, under the State Secretary for Transit and Public Works, the Directory of Architecture and Construction, the first governmental institution created in Brazil for this purpose.

He joined the Direction and the Editorial Board of the magazine RevistaMódulo, together with Oscar Niemeyer, Rodrigo M. Franco, Marcos Jaimovich, Rubem Braga, Vinícius de Moraes, José de Souza Reis, Arthur LúcioPontual and others.

He was also a professor at the School of Engineering and one of the founders of the Recife School of Fine Arts. A pioneer of modern architecture, he renovated the structural conception of reinforced concrete and its calculations methods, contributing to the evolution of Civil Engineering.

He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1940 where he associated himself with Oscar Niemeyer, going on to participate in the construction of Brasília and many other of Niemeyer’s projects abroad.

His main structural architectural designs were:

In Rio de Janeiro: The Monument to the Dead of the 2nd World War; Gilberto Cardoso Stadium (Maracanãzinho); Oscar Niemeyer’s Residence.

In São Paulo: Duchen biscuit factory, which won the Biennial of São Paulo award; Flora do Instituto dos Bancários farmstead; Laboratório de Motores; the Workshops and Wind Tunnel at the Technical Centre of Aeronautics (ITA).

In Brasília: Palaces of Alvorada, Planalto, Federal Supreme Court, Itamarati, National Congress and Justice; the Ministry of the Army, the Revenue Tribunal; the Cathedral; Cine Brasília; NossaSenhora de Fátima Church and the Brasília Museum.

In Recife, at the invitation of architect AcácioBorsoi, he carried out structural projects for the Bandepe, Bancipe, Miguelangelo, Portinari and Velásques buildings.

Joaquim Cardozo hung out with Pernambuco writers resident in Rio de Janeiro, particularly Manuel Bandeira, the poet, and João Cabral de Melo Neto, who also stood out in modern Brazilian poetry.

The following are his main literary works: Signo estrelado (Star Sign) and Triviume Mundos paralelos (Trivium Parallel Worlds), collected in Poesias Completas (Complete Poetry); O coronel de Macambira (The Colonel of Macambira) (bumba-meu-boi), De umanoite de festa (A Party Night), O capataz de Selema (The Foreman of Selema), Antônio Conselheiro and Marechalboi-de-carro, works of folkloric imprints.

Cardozo donated his library of approximately 7,500 titles to the Federal University of Pernambuco. He received many awards and titles, among them member emeritus of the Institute of Architecture of Brazil (IAB-PE), patron of the Joaquim Cardozo class of Engineering graduates at the Catholic University of Pernambuco (UNICAP) and an honorary doctorate from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).

Joaquim Cardozo died in Olinda, Pernambuco, on 4 November 1978. He left several books unfinished that were later published.


Recife, 25 may 2004.
Updated on 11 september 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
Updated on 22 august 2017.

sources consulted

CRONOLOGIA de Joaquim Cardozo (1897-1978). Notas biográficas reunidas por Geraldo Santana. Suplemento Cultural. Diário Oficial. Estado de Pernambuco. Recife, ano 12, ago. 1997. (Suplemento com o título Engenharia e arte, dedicado ao Centenário de Joaquim

ENCICLIPÉDIA Mirador Internacional. São Paulo: Encyclopaedia Britannica do Brasil, 1995.

FÉLIX, Moacyr. Nosso adeus a Joaquim Cardozo. In: ENCONTROS com a Civilização Brasileira. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1978. v. 6, p. 83-95.

JOAQUIM CARDOZO [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 21 ago. 2017.

how to quote this text

Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Joaquim Cardozo. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.