The Soft Portuguese style (Portuguese: Estilo Português Suave) is an architectural model used in public and private buildings in Portugal, essentially during the 1940s and the early 1950s. This architectural style is also known as Nationalistic style, Traditionalistic style and New State style, but this last denomination is not very correct, since during the Portuguese New State Regimen diverse architectural styles have been applied in public buildings.
Portuguese Suave was the result of the ideas of several Portuguese architects who, from the beginning of the 20th century, looked to create “genuine Portuguese Architecture”. One of the mentors of this style was the architect Raul Lino, creator of the theory of the “Portuguese house”. The result of this current was the creation of a style of architecture that used the modernist engineering characteristics, masked by a mixture of exterior aesthetic elements borrowed from the ancient and traditional architecture of Portugal.
The Portuguese New State, an authoritarian nationalist regime resulting from the 1926 revolution and led by Oliveira Salazar, embarked upon a wide-ranging public works policy, beginning in the 1930s. Initially, in new public buildings, a monumental modernist style prevailed, with Art Deco characteristics. However, after the Portuguese World Fair in 1940, whose chief architect was Jose Cottinelli Telmo, the Portuguese Government started to prefer a nationalistic style for its new public constructions. This style was used in all types of public buildings, from small rural elementary schools to big secondary schools and university campuses, military barracks, courts of justice, hospitals, town halls and so on.
Beyond Portugal, this style was also wide used in public buildings of the Portuguese overseas territories of Africa, Asia and Oceania. The style was also very popular in the private sector, being used in all types of buildings, from the small family homes to blocks of flats, hotels, office blocks, commercial and industrial buildings.
The style was severely attacked by a great number of young architects who accused it of being provincial and devoid of imagination. Its nickname, by which it was most commonly known, “Portuguese Suave”, was given to it ironically by its critics, who had compared it to a brand of cigarettes of the same name. The biggest blow to the style was struck by the 1948 1st Portuguese National Congress of Architecture, which meant that it gradually came to be abandoned for both public and private works. From the mid-50s, state-sponsored public works started using more modernist architectural styles.
Despite criticism by many intellectuals, the Portuguese Suave style proved to be popular, corresponding to the tastes of a segment of the Portuguese people. Its characteristics, although attenuated, have returned and can be seen in numerous private buildings built since the 1990s.
The Portuguese Soft Style came from a chain of architects who, since the beginning of the 20th century , sought to create a “genuinely Portuguese” architecture. One of the mentors of this chain was the architect Raul Lino , theorizer of the Portuguese house . The result of this trend was the creation of a style of architecture that used the modernist characteristics of engineering, disguised by a mixture of exterior aesthetic elements drawn from the Portuguese architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries and the traditional houses of the various regions of Portugal.
Estado Novo , a political regime led by Oliveira Salazar , who emerged from the 1926 revolution, began a large-scale public works policy beginning in the mid -1930s . Initially, in the new public buildings constructed, the modernist style prevailed, with monumental elements of art deco , such as the Instituto Superior Técnico , the National Statistical Institute and the National Liceu de Beja .
However, especially since the Portuguese World Exhibition in 1940 , whose chief architect was José Cottinelli Telmo , the Nationalist Style began to be favored in the new public buildings. This style was used in all types of buildings, from small rural primary schools to large secondary and higher schools, through military barracks, courts, hospitals, city councils, etc. Besides Portugal, this style was also widely used in public buildings in the Portuguese overseas territories of Africa, Asia and Oceania. The style also achieved great popularity in the private sector, and is also used in all types of buildings in this environment, from single-family homes to apartment buildings, through office buildings, shops and even industry.
The style was heavily attacked by a large number of architects, who accused him of being provincial and devoid of imagination. The designation, by which the style eventually became unofficially known, ” Portuguese Suave “, was ironically given to it by its critics, who compared it to a homonymous brand of cigarettes [ citation needed ] . The greatest blow in style was given at the First National Congress of Architecture of 1948 , which led to it being progressively ceased to be used in public and private constructions. From the mid -1950s , the public works promoted by the Estado Novo returned to privileging modernist architecture.
Despite the criticism of the intellectuals, the Portuguese Suave Style was very popular, corresponding to the taste of many Portuguese. Its characteristics, although attenuated, have been present in numerous private buildings, especially since the 1990s .
The typical buildings of this style were a turning point with regard to the national civil construction. What until then had been very traditionalist and retrograde has come to rely on the latest international technical innovations. The introduction of new and modern engineering techniques, such as the use of concrete structures and the beam – pillar system, have revolutionized not only the way of building, but also the way of thinking about buildings. Common buildings, like most dwellings, were designed and designed by unskilled masters; from that time, progress was being made in this direction, assigning the work of dimensioning the structure to a specialized technician. However, all this modernism was not accepted in the same way as in the rest of Europe , more towards the future and for modernity, since the Portuguese government at the time was very puritanical and conservative. To this extent modern technique was disguised by classical ornamental elements, in a gesture of cultural obstruction to internationalist progressivism .
The ornamental elements present in the style are taken from the architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the traditional architecture of the various Portuguese regions. These inspirations came mainly from the studies of Raul Lino. Typically, decorative elements such as rustic stone, punches, wedges and sashes are used, sloping water roofs with eaves and red tile, false cornices, pinnacles , pilasters on balconies, etc. It is also common the existence of arches and towers of medievalist evocation with coruchéus (pyramidal or conical) topped with armillary spheres (symbolizing the empire), or with wind vents, more present in the villages. Colonnades also play an important role in the architectural elements of the Portuguese Soft Building. The verticality of this, and the fact that they repeat along the façade, provoke a very austere and strong entrance space; this characteristic is used mainly in administrative and judicial buildings (ministries, courts, etc.) for the role they represented in the day-to-day society of the time.
Palaces of Justice
This type of building is considered, together with the Paços do Concelho , the “noble type” of the Portuguese Soft . They are usually characterized by a hard volumetry, using colonnades and large porticoes to impose their monumentality. There is a symbolic concern to associate with the architecture of these buildings the idea of judicial power (intrinsically linked to state power) coupled with an austere and classic spirit. A good example of the described characteristics is the Palace of Justice of Porto (1961), where the colonnades assume a fundamental role with respect to the global ideology that the building must make appear; the almost violent austerity and monumentality make this palace of justice one of the most representative of this functional type.
The buildings of the city councils are part, together with the Palaces of Justice, the “noble type” of the Portuguese Suave . Comparing the two typologies, the City Hall is more eclectic , that is to say, it has a more liberated form, not so attached to the ideas of power and austerity of judicial buildings (although closely linked to these expressions). They are also associated with a more historical and nationalist theme; sometimes there are on the facades, or on the porches , illustrative panels relating to various aspects of city life such as the work or the history thereof. An example of a munipal chamber of this style, although not very representative, is the building of the town hall of Póvoa de Lanhoso ; This building is connected to the local domus pragmatically joining the two noble buildings of the village.
General Boxes of Deposits and Credits and Providence
This type of building was fundamental in the economy of the cities and towns of the country. They were usually located in the center of the localities, so that access was the fastest for any inhabitant of the area. They were built with the aim of looking quite solid and resilient due to the natural feeling they should give to the people, that the money was safe. There are several typologies throughout the Portuguese territory; from the facet of urban solar , to the typical classic building, with large turrets surmounted by tall coruhos. The building of the general box of deposits of Santarém shows well the austere, but sober, character of this functional type. The tower and tall windows give the public the much needed sense of security that must always be associated with a building of these.
Buildings of CTT
The Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones are a special case in the architecture of this time. The fact that during the 30s and 40s , a single architect was responsible for designing and performing these works, Adelino Nunes , left little room for great technical and formal innovations, reflected in the poor diversity. This results in the ability to divide the various facilities built around the country, because the high number of buildings is interrelated. There are 3 types of levels of CTT buildings:
Simple level – for humbler settlements, in a more historical-regionalist style. An example of this is Fafe’s CTT.
Medium level – for towns with a certain importance, or small towns, in a more modern and innovative style. The north is characterized by granite and to the south by the whitewashed walls. Two examples, one for each case, are the Correios de Valença , to the north, those of Évora to the south.
Palaces of the Post Office – for large cities, in an eclectic style that mixes both regionalism, modernity and monumentality. The most relevant example of this type of building is the Palácio dos Correios in Lisbon .
The primary schools of this time were part of a project known as Rogério de Azevedo’s Centennial Schools . The architect drew up a standard plan describing how to build the school. There were small variants that tried to somehow fit the buildings in the architectural panorama of the place where they were; Southern schools were characterized by arches and whitewashed walls (most of the houses in the south are whitewashed since the times of Muslim occupation ), and to the north by the porches and the use of granite.
High schools were based on a quite different idea from primary schools. These were installed in large mansions with sixteenth and sixteenth-century airs with large arches and roofing tiles. Like primary schools, most of these buildings were of mixed education; to this extent, and according to the ideas of the time, the boys and girls frequented different sides of the establishment making them symmetrical. Some of these schools were associated with neighborhoods, such as the school in Ajuda neighborhood . In what I say to universities , how they assumed a much larger size and say they are treated as urban groups.
The sanctuary of Fatima was the greatest religious work of the regime. In general, churches constructed in this style were stylized in concrete. A work still to be emphasized is the Christ-King in Almada .
Monuments and Infrastructures
There was a demand by the state to assert itself on a large scale associated with the need to perform major works of basic equipment (water, sewage, electricity, road network). As examples of monument we have the Luminous Fountain in Lisbon. In terms of infrastructure there is the dam of Castelo de Bode and Ponte 25 de Abril (Ponte Salazar initially), which came to solve a problem that from the beginning of the century needed a solution – connecting the two banks of the Tagus.
Housing was one of the major problems of the Salazarist regime in the capital. The population of Lisbon increased from year to year and there was a need to build places to house all these people. This process has been approached in several ways depending on the type of customer. The houses are divided into three categories: income buildings and single-family or semi-detached houses , social neighborhoods .
The buildings of yield are symmetrical volumes, where they use traditional materials, little salient and with smooth facades. At the same time, more progressive buildings of the same type appeared in the technology used ( reinforced concrete , pillars-beams-slab system), but traditional in the architectural expression they have. Characterized by stone basements, framed windows of chest, balcony spans with wrought iron decorative balcony, roofs roofing (use of coruchéus sometimes) and colonnades of stone on the facade.
Single-family dwellings are typically constituted by a wide roof covering with eaves, a facade painted white or light colors, use of stone in the frames of the span, wooden doors usually painted green and a covered porch or avarandados covered with tile. Sometimes there are some works in tiles or ceramics with traditional motifs, wrought iron pieces (flower boxes, wind vane and gates).
The social neighborhoods (or residential complexes) were large organized clusters of “economic houses” (or “Economic Rents”) consisting of single-family houses, or more commonly, semi-detached houses. The social neighborhoods were erected in more disqualified zones of the city. The first neighborhood, which served as prototype of the neighborhoods included in the project of Duarte Pacheco , New Neighborhoods , was the Salazar District , better known as Bairro do Alvito (1938). Apart from the neighborhoods of low-income houses, there were also elementary neighborhoods , such as Bairro Alto da Serafina ; and also neighborhoods of prefabricated houses , such as the Caselas neighborhood and the districts that were left unfinished during the First Republic , such as the Arco do Cego Neighborhood, were completed .
Adelino Nunes, Carlos Ramos, Carlos Rebello de Andrade,Cassiano Branco,Cottinelli Telmo,Cristino da Silva,Guilherme de Rebello Andrade,João Simões,Jorge Insured,Keil do Amaral,Pardal Monteiro,Paulino Montez,Raul Rodrigues Lima,Rogério de Azevedo,Vasco Regaleira,Veloso Reis Camelo
Construction of urban fronts
Between 1930 and 1940 Duarte Pacheco launched an extensive program of construction of urban fronts in order to avoid a disorderly growth of the city and the proliferation of poor quality architecture. A first plan was drawn up which was intended to house thousands of people on the outskirts of the city; was designed by Paulino Montez a pioneer neighborhood between the Tapada da Ajuda and Alcântara that would have the name of Salazar. The symmetrical geometry of the streets and the organization of the various spaces: housing, equipment and green spaces were the main characteristics of this neighborhood. The houses were mostly twinned, and there were also some small buildings. The flat terraces represented well the cubist modern inspiration of the architect. However, the general neo-traditional taste reconverted these roofs into typical tile roofs. From this, until the 1940s , eight other neighborhoods with the same characteristics appeared, the most important being the Incarnation and Madre de Deus .
During the 1940s and 1950s, two types of residential urbanization took place at the western end of the city: modest houses and large luxury villas. Part of them, deeply inspired by the typology of Raul Lino’s Portuguese House .
Exhibitions of the World
In 1940, Duarte Pacheco, was put to the test in the Exhibition of the Portuguese World, that had a deeply ideological role in the national life and of the capital of the Empire . Animated by Pacheco and directed by Cottinelli Telmo was a brilliant company of all the arts. In addition to its impact on the life of the city, spectators of precarious party architecture, the exhibition brought about transformations in Praça do Império and a plan of great official buildings. The Portuguese World Exhibition included thematic pavilions related to Portugal’s history, economic activities, culture, regions and overseas territories.
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