Accepted paper:

Modern Movement in Angola: A Liberating Architecture?


Luisa Bebiano Correia (Universidade de Coimbra)

Paper 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.

Paper 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.

panel P07
Cultural exchanges in Portuguese - European and colonial - townscapes