“Estado Novo” (New State) architecture up to now

Avenida dos Aliados
Photo:  Município do PortoCC BY-NC-SA - Some Rights Reserved

Economic, social, political and cultural changes were responsible for the new aesthetical movements and tendencies that would originate the Porto modern architecture of the 1920s. The regenerator movement of the Porto modern architecture was due mainly to Marques da Silva, Tomás Augusto Soller and Francisco de Oliveira Ferreira, among others. Bearing in mind this concept of Modern Architecture we will introduce the most representative aesthetical expressions and movements that make Porto not only a city that follows the European and national directives but also a pioneer space that knew how to innovate with great mastery, assuming the role of preceding movement of the national and international architectural evolution.

There is a cause and effect relation between the Portuguese architecture and the political regime that ruled from 1926 to 1974 and which is known as Estado Novo (New State). During that period there is certain slowness on the State’s side to accept the new architectural proposals that were born among some architects who tried to develop the foundations of modern architecture. Those were the architects of the year 1927, known as the Commitment Generation. This movement will seek the State’s support to develop and assert this new kind of architecture. One of the leaders of the group was the architect Carlos Ramos (1897-1969). He became headmaster of the Porto’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 1952, and implemented and inaugurated a new pedagogical orientation there. Another architect of that time in Porto was Rogério de Azevedo, who contributed greatly to the modern architecture in Portugal. He planned the Comércio do Porto’s Garage, which has an innovative style. In the late 1920s, there is a hesitating start of a new architectural mentality. It announced a more modern mind in architecture, linked to several new programmes that were beginning to appear in the capital. The most progressive tendencies in architecture will be delineated after World War II, increasing after 1948. In 1950 they are more consistent and settle definitely in Porto. In 1952, under Carlos Ramos’ guidance, there is an official education system of quality at the Faculty of Fine Arts. This school will be the only one, nation-wide, to have a high pedagogical prestige for decades. Such names as Viana de Lima, Filgueiras, Távora, Andersen, Loureiro, Gusmão, Arnaldo Araújo, Siza Vieira worked for the prestige of the institution.In the 1960s, architecture links itself to sociological concepts. However, it is still ruled by an official orientation. Small ateliers will give a theoretical and practical contribution to modern architecture, living alongside urban speculation, which is felt strongly. In the 1970s, real estate speculation keeps on growing, dictating the construction rhythm. This is due on the one hand to the increasing tourism demand and on the other hand to the development of the industrial poles. Such realities will be a determinant factor for the creation of urban planning policies. Briefly, architecture, as it is known today, lives on the cities’ tertiary activities, with a growing need to create and adapt social and cultural facilities. Today, a significant architectural tradition of international reputation is symbolized by the expression “School of Porto.” Porto architects pay great attention to design. It is always about a poetical meeting between the creative precision of form and the importance granted to the materials, a dynamic union of fiction and reality. During the 1980s, the Porto architects answered to the increasing solicitations of a growing market. Fernando Távora and Álvaro Siza are the most prominent names of the decade.

Published 10-09-2013
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