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Architect António Vicente de Castro 

The architect & his projects

António Vicente de Castro, was born in Lisbon on October 17, 1920 and died on November 26, 2002, also in Lisbon. He started his academic career in Lisbon, but soon moved to the School of Visual Arts in Porto, where he completed his studies in 1955. In 1956 he moves back to the Algarve, having spent much of his youth in Lagos. He opens his architectural firm in Portimão, where he begins his professional career and where he will realize approximately 120 projects.


He does research and worked with themes such as collective and single-family homes, facilities, services and urban planning. Between 1975 and 1976 he worked for the Municipality of Portimão, where he participates in urban planning and urban renewal projects. In his projects, especially the integration with their environment is visible: in the green spaces and the orientation to the sun. They are buildings with simple geometric shapes as usual in modernism and built of concrete, steel and glass.


Polychromy and decoration are used, finishing materials with color and texture, creating vibrant chromatic contrasts, using colored glass ceramics and applying color to the walls, Cobogos and grilles. "This decorative trend, although relatively common in works of this period throughout the country, can be linked to an earlier tradition, which was already rooted in Algarve and which we also recognize in the bright cymbals and platibandas of the 19th century, to which António Vicente de Castro gave a new dimension” (Fernandes, January 2005, p.105)


Modernist architects did not completely deny traditional architecture when they began a new architectural movement. They took the traditional elements and applied them in their works, not recreating them but reinterpreting them, with a more modern aspect: the use of colors, as a decorative element and a flat roof, creating a 'new' raised terrace. Architecture is constantly evolving and seeking innovation, but will never lose its connection with the past. The most important completed works of António Vicente de Castro are:

Hostel and Bus Station in Lagos / Estalagem São Cristóvão

This project (1952-1955), presented as a graduation project for obtaining the Architect's diploma (CODA), consisted of two parts and two different programs: an inn with a small extension and a gas station. Located at the entrance to the city of Lagos, the building was oriented so that the main facades faced east and south, overlooking the bay and Lagos. The hostel, called São Cristóvão, was divided into two floors. With a restaurant, bar, living area, men's and women's toilets, kitchen and utility room, staff sanitary facilities, guard room and storage space on the ground floor. Next to the south and east facades there was a large terrace for the restaurant, bar and seating area, separated by wooden partitions, which guide the transition from the interior to the exterior. This program also included an extension with an office. On the top floor the program consisted of: ten bedrooms, nine with a private balcony, five facing east, three facing south and two facing west, two bathrooms, a storage room and a balcony with an external staircase.

The gas station with Portuguese paving consisted of a U-shaped volume, which housed the guard's cabin and integrated the two columns that supported the roof with an overhang and which was divided into two planes via an "intermediate beam" and which also served for lighting from the center. The decor was strongly determined by its 'Color', in particular by the details in steel and by the colorful mosaics of the gas station, the decorative panels in marble on the ground floor and the 'box' balconies with color accents.

Casa Bragança in Portimão

In 1959, Casa Bragança appeared, also in Portimão, a building with a very simple volume, without great excesses in shape or decoration, with only one floor, the distinguishing element being that instead of the usual flat roof, a butterfly roof was used. Inside the building, the layout is quite simple: according to Luísa de Castro - the architect's daughter who also is an architect and manages his archive - the concept of this project was a kind of pavilion, like the Barcelona Pavilion (1) from 1929. walls would demarcate the house, but within the horizontal planes they would only demarcate certain areas but never completely enclose them.

Access is via the east facade, the vestibule divides the house into two zones, shared use/services and private. In the private area there are three bedrooms and a bathroom, which are located on the south facade and overlook the garden. The common area contains the dining room, living room, kitchen with utility room and the maid's bedroom and toilet, as was common at that time. Including access to the outside, which means there are two separate entrances, a shared entrance and a service entrance. As with all his projects, António Vicente de Castro also conceived and designed the entire outdoor space, creating paths and green spaces in two areas, to the south and to the north.


(1) The Barcelona Pavilion was designed by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), with the aim of being the German National Pavilion for the International Exhibition of Barcelona, ​​held in Montjuïc in 1929. The pavilion was demolished at the end of the fair, but due to its importance the Mies van der Rohe Foundation commissioned its reconstruction, on the same site in the 1980s.

Quinta do Malheiro, Casa Cordeiro in Portimão

In 1961 he built a house in Portimão at Quinta do Malheiro, Casa Cordeiro, for the client Jaime Dias Cordeiro. This project, completely integrated into the urban fabric of the city on a wide avenue, consists of a single-family house, spread over three floors (basement , ground floor and first floor), with a roof terrace. The program consists of: a basement with storage room and garage; a ground floor with communal and service areas, living and dining room, kitchen and utility room with access to the outside and sanitary facilities. On the top floor 4 bedrooms with a bathroom. The roof terrace has a canope (shade roof) as an open concrete pergola (see photo), resting on concrete columns and a set of V-shaped metal pillars.

Vicente de Castro tried to create some dynamism in the facade, through protruding and receding surfaces, linked to the interior spaces and the use of “box balconies” popular in international modernism. Of the external sun protection elements, the concrete pergolas - which define the outdoor areas of the entrance and the roof - are particularly striking. The facades were given color by cladding some of the walls on the outside with tiles in natural tones.

“This theory of balconies, which we can perhaps trace back to post-war Latin American and Brazilian architecture, normally contains - in its search for forms of climate and thermal control in collective housing, within the 'Corbusian' influence - three types of elements : 

* 1. The veranda itself, protruding approximately 1 meter from the facade, protected by a masonry parapet consisting of a grid of modulated industrial blocks, which conceal or shade part of the terraced space; 

* 2. 'loose beams', horizontal, in concrete, which function as a 'sunshade' or 'brise-soleil' in the upper part of the span, and also as a modulation line for the geometry of each balcony box; 

* 3. Vicente de Castro uses the features of 'free forms' typical of the design of the time, for example by drawing irregular curved surfaces and voids in false ceilings of building atriums, or marking the facades of buildings through indentations , using color.”

Jaime Dias-house in Portimão

In 1961 he built the Jaime Dias House in Portimão, where he followed the same guidelines as those previously mentioned, using lattices, terraces, vertical laminar elements and a feature, which according to his daughter Luísa de Castro is common in several of his works, on the ground floor the use of color or different materials, which can create a contrast between the different elements of the home, making the forward and backward jumping more apparent. The building consists of three floors, with the ground floor intended for the common areas, living room, kitchen, sanitary installation, service area and bar area. The importance that Vicente de Castro attaches to outdoor spaces is visible in the plan, which creates uneven levels and different places to stay and there is always a relationship with the interior space of the house, even if only visually.

The main entrance is located on the east facade, and one must walk around the building to enter through the garden and a large terrace, which is connected to the living room, in this room a bar has been installed, with a sanitary installation and a diningroom. As usual, there is a service area with kitchen, laundry room, bedroom and private access. On the upper floor there are four bedrooms with bathrooms, two of which have their own balcony. As can be seen in the image, in this project Vicente de Castro has again used the typical 'verandas', with a play of jumping forward and falling back, the use of pergolas and vertical laminar elements that allow a play of light and shadow to make. As a material choice, he chose terrazzo to create a contrast between the floors.

According to Luísa de Castro, the architect thought carefully about all the elements related to the project, he left nothing to chance, he thought and designed the outdoor space, the garden, the ponds, paths, decorative elements, and the materials, but he also thought about the interior, of stairs, with their shields, designs with tiles, elements on balconies, benches, tables, bars. He designed unique pieces for each project. Most of his works have been totally modified, as a result of changes made by their owners over the years, in an attempt to meet new usage requirements, but with the characteristic elements of the 'modern movement' being completely altered, or sometimes even disappeared completely.

“The architectural legacy is characterized by buildings adapted to the prevailing urban planning and which favor detached buildings, favorably located on the sun and integrated into green spaces, separating vehicular traffic from pedestrian traffic; buildings in simple geometric shapes, with modulated elements, built with concrete, steel and glass. In his projects, Vicente de Castro demonstrates a clear and distinct decorative and polychromatic tendency, through the use of opaque materials with colors and textures, creating intense and vivid chromatic contrasts using colored glass ceramics, applying colors to Cobogos or grids, or the simple use of painted stucco”

Multifunctionel social centers (CASPs)

These multifunctional social centers were established as part of a regional plan aimed at reducing child mortality in the Algarve. These facilities had a basic program that provided social assistance and research. Family assistance, maternal and child health care and kindergartens, with other programs able to be integrated in accordance with local needs.


Influenced by the Modern Movement and Brazilian modern architecture, these centers were unique examples of modern public facilities built in the south of Portugal in the second half of the twentieth century. The CASPs are typical examples of modernist proposals that emerged in a context of national dictatorship. The CASP of Loulé and Olhão were designed by the architects Manuel Laginha and Rogério Buridant Martins. Manuel Gomes da Costa was the architect of the CASP of Aljezur, the CASP of Tavira and the CASP of Vila Real de Santo António. The CASP of Portimão and Lagos was designed by the architect António Vicente de Castro.


After the first orders for a CASP went to architect Laginha, it is believed that Gomes da Costa and Vicente de Castro were suggested through Laginha as the architects for the remaining CASP. Costa worked intern at Laginhas  office in 1952 and all three had been students at EBAP (Escola de Belas Artes do Porto) where all three lived in the same boarding house in Porto, with Costa and Castro as roommates and close friends.


Dr. Joaquim de Brito da Mana, born in Loulé, was district head of the Public Health Service and director of the Faro Maternal Institute and the creator of a new social assistance policy for the Algarve. An important connection that can be made about the hiring of the three architects by Dr. Brito da Mana is the fact that architect Manuel Laginha designed the house for Dr. Brito da Mana.

Multifunctionel social center (CASP) in Portimão - architect António Vicente de Castro

The preliminary design for the CASP in Portimão from 1956 by architect António Vicente de Castro had as its program: a crèche for 60 children between 18 months and 3 years old; a Center for Mother and Child Care; a Social Intelligence Service; a Family Assistance Center and a girls' shelter. The final draft of the CASP in Portimão was submitted in 1957. The Portimão Multifunctional Social Assistance Center was implanted on a piece of land, which was expropriated from Quinta do Malheiro in 1955 by the Municipality of Portimão, and in 1956 a plot of 4,515 m2 was made available free of charge to the Lar da Criança in Portimão for the construction of the CASP.


According to the architect (1956), the land was located next to the main industrial area of the city, on a plot with a steep slope to the north, divided into three levels, which determined the location of the building. To save on earth moving, the solution chosen was to lower the main building and center section and use the resulting height difference as a basis for the architectural composition, organized in two blocks connected by an external covered ramp.

The first block, in the north, is divided into two floors. The main access is via a street on the north side of the plot, which runs partly along the building to the entrance of the block where the route splits to the ground floor, with a covered outdoor atrium that formed the transition between the high and lower block. On the upper floor, access is via a covered outdoor gallery that runs over the entire south facade. The laboratory block, located to the south, is accessed via a street on the western edge of the plot. The transition between the outside and inside of this block is made by a covered outside gallery that runs along the south and west facades.


Already in the preliminary design, the architect points out that to guarantee the convenience and comfort of children and users, height differences would be bridged by "ramps", with the exception of access to technical areas (basement and service terrace) which are via a staircase realised. The orientation and sun protection of the living spaces is also one of the architect's concerns, which is why they have a shaded outdoor gallery that also serves as an outdoor playground.


These spaces were oriented to the south, with the exception of the refectory space, which, due to its orientation to the west, had a greater distance from the boundaries of the outer gallery. Open masonry, or cobogós, wooden lattices and vertical concrete slabs were also used as exterior sun protection and facade composition elements. As a ventilation system, high spans were planned next to the slab with fixed or mobile grilles that promoted cross ventilation and soft light.


In the description of the building, the architect refers to the main materials representative of the tradition of the Algarve, including the wooden grilles, the walls covered with colored ceramic tiles and the whitewashed surfaces. The architect adds that although the main finish of the walls are whitewashed, the recessed surfaces that framed the spans "could be given color, so stimulating to the sensitivity of children", which, on the other hand, would enhance the white of the remaining surfaces, in comparison to what "happens in the fields and villages of the Algarve where the whitewashed colors look more vibrant when framed with colored bands".

Current project status (CASP) Portimão

With the increase in population and the evolution of local needs, the demand for childcare provided by Lar da Criança in Portimão grew. In 1983, when the Portimão Health Center released the facilities it had, the LCP occupied the entire building and added the activity and leisure center to the nursery


To meet the institution's growing need for space, in 1997 the project for the expansion of the CASP in Portimão was designed by the architect António Vicente de Castro in collaboration with his daughter, the architect Maria Luísa Avelar de Castro. The project consisted of creating a new block, to the south of the plot, rising from the pavement, supported by concrete posts, creating a large covered outdoor play area on the ground floor and interior spaces for rooms on the upper floor. This block was connected to that of the nursery by two sets of ramps, located at the ends of the external covered gallery to the south of it.

The CASP in Portimão has been the target of numerous clandestine expansion works to date, almost completely taking over the free land to the east of the Crèche block. In August 2017, the CASP of Portimão was proposed by Docomomo for the classification of "monument of general interest". In March 2018, the announcement regarding the opening of the property classification procedure was made. However, in September of the same year, the Administrative and Fiscal Court of Loulé stopped the classification process and upheld the objection filed by the institution's management, arguing that the interests of the children outweighed the defense of the building.

Other Projects from architect António Vicente de Castro

For more than 40 years in his office at Travessa Sr.a da Tocha, António Vicente de Castro - framed in the modern movement - produced an enormous number of projects in the field of architecture and urban planning, such as in addition to the above projects:

The career of architect António Vicente de Castro is further characterized by furniture designs and urban development plans in various municipalities in the Algarve. With thanks to the architect Maria Luísa Avelar de Castro, for the information from her father's archive (photos and drawings) and the following publications:


* ISMAT - Homenagem Centenário António Vicente de Castro

* Biblioteca Krancisco Keil do Amaral: Ordem das Arquitectos Secção Regional Sul - DossiêsTemáticos 5 - Centro de Assistência Polivalente de Portimão (1959-2017)

* Universidade de Evora - Escola de Artes - Mestrado Integrado em Arquitetura - Dissertação: Movimento Moderno no Algarve do século XX: Centros de Assistência Social Polivalente - Edite Sofia Barracosa Borges

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