Cultural exchanges in Portuguese - European and colonial - townscapes
Location Sala 82, Edifício B2, Piso 1
Date and Start Time 15 July, 2015 at 14:30
Sessions 2


  • Alice Santiago Faria (FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa) email
  • Manuel Teixeira (CIAUD-FAUTL) email

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Short Abstract

The panel deals with the townscape of Portuguese urban settlements, built both in Portugal and in colonial contexts, the strategies of design and construction involved, into what extent these have resulted from processes of knowledge transfer and cultural exchanges, and their defining elements.

Long Abstract

The panel deals with urban settlements of Portuguese origin, in which concerns the strategies of design and construction employed in their formal organization, into what extent these have resulted from processes of knowledge transfer and cultural exchanges in colonial contexts, and the defining elements of the townscape resulting from that.

Portuguese urban layouts, built throughout the world, are always the result of erudite and vernacular components: they always have a geometrical basis ordering its layout, while at the same time embracing and incorporating the natural environment into the urban composition. In the latter, if not in both situations, there are processes of knowledge transfer with local cultures involved. The resulting city is neither a crystalized structure nor superficially picturesque. Built with the territory and in dialogue with local cultures, Portuguese cities were able to adopt formal solutions adapted to the multitude of situations they were confronted with.

Portuguese urbanism is the simultaneous result of top-down institutional processes of planning and - one might say foremost - of bottom-up processes, which are the result of conditions established locally. By being intrinsically bound with history, the culture and physical constraints of the place, Portuguese urbanism has been able to respond to local conditions, while at the same time keeping a modus of continuity and permanence that makes its townscape identifiable through time and place. The panel evolves around such configurational and organizational patterns of relations and the processes that gave rise to them.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Angra, a Portuguese new town from the Expansion period.

Author: Antonieta Reis Leite (UNL/UAÇ e UC )  email

Short Abstract

This paper aims to discuss some facts about Angra’s foundation process, historical evolution and urban morphology.Namely how Angra was planned and designed to be a capital city and how that can be sought on its morphological structure today.

Long Abstract

Angra is a Portuguese new town founded in the Azores archipelago in the last quarter of the 15th century, when the central power improved the settlement process on these islands, regarding a new and more dynamic phase of the Atlantic Expansion.

During the 16th century, Angra became an important key point of the Portuguese urban network of the Atlantic, becoming the headquarter of the Provedoria da Armada, the institution responsible since 1522 for the protection of the Indian Route in the north Atlantic area. By the year of 1534 Angra was chosen to be the headquarters of the new Azorean dioceses, and the first settlement in the archipelago's to obtain the city title.

Nevertheless, at that point Angra was already informally the archipelago's capital, and its image and materiality must have, inevitably, expressed it.

Namely, it is important to stress how, along with Angra's exceptional urban design, which was devised and laid out according to geometrical principals, some equipments have been planned to integrate the settlement pattern, such as the church aligned with the street pattern, or the main street, the Rua Direita, a street that was planned with 11 meters wide, combining the metric system that covers the totality of the settlement pattern. Even so both this procedures were rare in the Portuguese townscape at that time, being reserved only to major urban centers in the mainland, the general plan follows the usual urban foundational program, experimented for centuries in the Christian conquest and settlement process.

Portuguese inheritance in the cultural landscape of São João Del Rei

Authors: Vanessa Brasileiro (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)  email
André Guilherme Dornelles Dangelo (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais)  email

Short Abstract

São João del Rei was settled in 1703, result of mining rush. Its natural conditions, urban design, monuments and cultural traditions lead to a city marked by spontaneous origins with traces of a portuguese scholarly tradition of urban design, where inheritance and redrawing stablished the settlement

Long Abstract

Cultural circularity reveals common traditions and similarities in the urban settlements, althought characterized by hibridisms resulting from the exchanges. Some questions arise: would it be possible to verify the traces of a portuguese scholarly tradition of urban design in cities marked by spontaneous origins? Which part of this inheritance is preserved, and what is redrawn in the new world? In order to answer to this questions, we propose an analysis of the city of São João del Rei.

There, mining was decisive in the form the site was occupied. Differently from other cities, in São João del Rei mining has been done in pits, therefore associated to the existing mountain ranges in the site where major occupation has been settled, although there is a gentle profile in the opposite bank of the valley.

As a result of topography, a distended occupation, parallel to the mountain and the river, was settled. A "branchway" (caminho-tronco) was formed, an strutural axe along which monuments presented and other streets have arised. Lodged in a irregular ground, the layout is based on linearity, but not necessarily on a grid, since it is adapted to the environmental conditions.

Other significant elements constitute the cultural landscape, such as churches and its courtyards. In São João del Rei traces of this fusion between urban space and society are still perceptible in the religious traditions and popular parties that are embraced by several sceneries, organized through a perspective integration between streets, dwellings, open spaces and monuments.

Some unique urban formation in Minas Gerais, Brazil - The city of Diamantina, space, development, cultural landscape, centralities and quotidian.

Author: Celina Borges Lemos (School of Architecture UFMG, BRAZIL.)  email

Short Abstract

The work aims to inventory and characterize the Diamantina formation, integrating urbanism, architecture that make up the cultural landscape. Presents the Portuguese contribution and some of the principles of Arts and Crafts, which integrated the circularity experiences of tradition and modernity.

Long Abstract

The work aims to inventory and characterize the Diamantina formation, integrating urbanism and architecture that make up the cultural landscape. The study presents the Portuguese contribution and some of the principles of Arts and Crafts, which integrated the circularity experiences of tradition and modernity identified through the architecture and urbanism. Its urban formation presented two structural institutions: the Church and the Monarchical State. It was left to the former the task of articulating, with the private sector, expansions of the worship buildings. At the same time, the State was assigned as the first and foremost sponsor of religious events, civic and civil constructions, and still in charge of boosting the urban economy. In this context, one can remarkably perceive the urban space as conditioned by the spheres of the sacred and the profane, aesthetically interlaced within the public and the private life. The rare formation of the Village shaped a unique urban arranging in Minas Gerais, where most of the settlements - like Ouro Preto, the previous capital - aligned along the roads. The continual paths around the old village defined some pervasive centralities, at certain points due to landform or to the establishment of business for catering and providing further support for the surrounding dwellers and travelers. The historical and cultural landscape of Diamantina - as well as other historical sites like Tiradentes and Ouro Preto - presents itself vulnerable against many contemporary challenges.

The townscape of Santa Catarina and it's military constructions: an approach to portuguese fortress

Author: Lorena Leite  email

Short Abstract

Santa Catarina possessed an interesting defensive system built Colonial America, where it started the urban occupation of the island. The constructions were designed by a military-engineer, who planned a set of fortifications capable of defending the island through a triangular line of defense.

Long Abstract

In the early XVIII century, the Portuguese Empire in America had it's territory defined by natural limits. In the southern part, the frontier was disputed by the Iberian Countries in the River Plate region. To guarantee the access to that watershed, the Portuguese had, in 1680, founded The Colony of Sacramento, a stronghold on the opposite side of Buenos Aires. TheColony has turned out into a major offense to the Spanish Crown, who saw in the initiative a way of contraband and embezzlement of silver from their colonies.

Since the foundation of The Colony of Sacramento, the southern frontier had become an issue for both Iberian Countries, once the border line of the Treaty of Tordesilhas were clearly exceeded. To insure the mastery of the territory, the Portuguese started a number of occupations among the coast - which the most important was the Island Of Santa Catarina. These occupations started with a fortress or stronghold, according to the local topography, and using local manpower and materials.

As an example of village structured around its fortress, the island of Santa Catarina presents an interesting case of the portuguese military engineering in the XVIII century. Its townscape growth from the fortress, but the defensive system was planned as a set of fortifications built to ensure the safety of the ships, functioning in a tri-angle system, not as the others standard defensive projects.

Macau and Timor: Public works and the construction of colonial townscapes (1869-1910)

Author: Alice Santiago Faria (FCSH, Universidade Nova de Lisboa)  email

Short Abstract

This presentation will focus on the role of local Public Works Departments in the construction of XIX century townscapes. Looking at Macao and Timor it will put in evidence the importance of locality and transcolonial connections in the production of the building environment in these territories.

Long Abstract

The Public Works were organized for the first time throughout the Portuguese empire in 1869. It was established that Public Works Departments would be created in all provinces, assembled in two main geographical areas: the Occidental and the Oriental provinces. Grounded in my post-doctoral research - that looks into the Public Works in the Oriental provinces (Macao and East Timor, India and Mozambique) and tries to identifying and reconstructing the mobility and circulation networks established between these territories - this presentation will focus on the particular cases of Macau and East Timor.

Placing in debate a methodological proposal on how to understand these interactions by following the different actors of this entanglement, it will put in contrast the links established between the territories of Macao and East Timor. Not forgetting their administrative interdependency, it aims display the importance of locality and transcolonial connections in the Public Works of the Oriental provinces of the Portuguese Empire.

Late colonial portuguese city & architecture in post-colonial Africa

Author: José Manuel Fernandes (Faculdade de Arquitectura da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa)  email

Short Abstract

We analyse and value the most positive aspects and present-day impact, of portuguese architects production, working in Africa in the 1950s to 1970s: cultural and professional ethics; use of modern technology adapted to tropical context; the colective idea of sevicing to society.

Long Abstract

Architecture and urbanism developed in the former portuguese colonies in Africa in the 20th century express the real value of its typological and morphological diversity, and its qualified heritage dimension in the present-day post colonial context.

Portuguese architects working in Africa, mainly between the 1950s and the 1970s, were able to create, in spite of adverse colonial administration and explotation rules, a whole system of positive cultural, professional and architectural values.

Such were: their coherent rules regarding professional ethics; the use of adequate modern technologies, adapted to tropical needs; and their ideia of being at work to serve society and to contribute to the improvement of colective and community needs.

In the present-day PALOPS countries, such aspects should be re-considered, not as old colonial concepts, but as actual and useful tools - if adapted and reinvented in present day realities,to improve and develop urban and architectural contexts, in adequate directions.

These values can and should serve today to support most of architectural /urban activity, adaped to present day needs.

Modern Movement in Angola: A Liberating Architecture?

Author: Luisa Bebiano Correia (Universidade de Coimbra)  email

Short Abstract

Architecture of the Modern Movement as an icon of liberation to Portuguese architects during the “Estado Novo,” and as a propaganda scenario. How this Movement adapted to the Angolan people’s way of inhabiting.

Long Abstract

Angola went through a considerable westernized development from the 1940s to the 1970s. Consequently, the most relevant cities in this country, at the time colonized by Portugal, were transformed.

The work that was created during this period, by Portuguese architects, was part of the International Modern Movement; yet, its adaptation to climate turned it into "tropical modern." By intermingling with the local culture, invoking the popular and the erudite, conveying tradition and modernity, Portuguese architects were able to build modernly, presenting a stylistic renewal adapted to local demands, thus characterizing the Portuguese presence in contemporary Africa. Modernity's strong expression began at this time, with concrete being used intentionally and as a deliberate technique.

In a time when the Portuguese "Estado Novo" remained resistant to modern culture and its formal and constructive impact on architecture, investing in the construction industry and importing skilled technicians changed the Angolan colonial landscape, putting forth a type of architecture that displayed a "high constructive and plastic quality," where concrete emerged as the prevailing technique.

Angola was then a territory that was available for experimenting. This architecture emerges as a scenario through propaganda documentary film, as a way of representing new values, technology, culture, and social development.

However, what was recorded in Portugal as propaganda, was eroded and abandoned during the civil and colonial wars. After that, other ways of inhabiting modern buildings, without any Portuguese control, emerged, leading us to question their formal adaptation to the Angolan local people.

Coastal urban networks: identifying typologies of Paraná (Brazil) and Algarve's (Portugal) coasts

Authors: Mafalda Pacheco (Instituto Superior Tecnico/UL)  email
Jussara Silva (Universidade Positivo)  email
Teresa Heitor (Instituto Superior Tecnico)  email

Short Abstract

This study search for similarities and contrasts between two coastal settlements, Algarve (Portugal) and Paraná (Brazil), by exploring aspects such as identification of centralities and connectivities and characterization of coastal urban centers through social and urban morphology indicators.

Long Abstract

On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, two shorelines, one in the northern hemisphere - Algarve's coast (Portugal) and the other in the south - Paraná's coast (Brazil), present urban settlements with a growing strategic importance regard to environmental, cultural and socio-economic aspects. Both urban settlements suffered an intense urban evolution during the last decades due to the increasing demand for areas of leisure and tourism.

This study search for the similarities and contrasts between these coastlines settlements by exploring three main aspects: 1) Identification of the centralities and connectivities of the coasts; 2) Characterization of the coastal urban centers through social and urban indicators; and 3) Classification of urban centers according with urban morphology and geometry.

The mains tools used are the exploratory spatial data analysis, enabling revealing results of territorial dynamics and patterns of spatial correlations between the urban centers of the two coastlines, combined with the morphologic aspects of the "Projecto Orla" (Project of Integrated Management for the Maritime Coast" guidelines (2006), to read coastal settlements' front and to identify the main features in the occupancy mode.

The different procedures of urban centres and urban networks are defined by the complexity of dimensional, functional and spatial structures, understanding politics and contributors that defines the cities of today, providing database for further studies and urban planning.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.