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Architect Manuel Gomes da Costa

The architect & his projects

Manuel Gomes da Costa 1921-2016

Perhaps the architect best known for his work in the Algarve is Manuel Gomes da Costa, one of the driving forces behind modern architecture in Faro, where he began his career in 1950, in a language that did not realy correspond to that of the Estado Novo.

“The modernist renaissance of a city like Faro in the post-war period, resulting in a built fabric that today can be considered as an admirable example of regional modernism, was possible thanks to a special combination of political, economic and social conditions. But the face of this renaissance was very important: The architect Manuel Gomes da Costa” (Agarez, 2016)

His work contributed to the needs of the population and the growth of cities, moving beyond a conservative regionalism through a design body of work that consisted of single-storey single-family homes and the introduction of apartment blocks.

Manuel Gomes da Costa, born in Vila Real de Santo António, on January 1, 1921, died on June 17, 2016 in Faro. In 1941 he entered the Architecture course at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon, but dropped out in the first year and later entered the School of Fine Arts of Porto, where he was a student of Carlos Ramos and completed his studies in 1949 .

The works of Gomes da Costa clearly shows the influence of international architecture as applied in Latin America, especially in Brazil and Venezuela, as a result of the migratory flow of the 1940s. With the economic crisis, in the following decades, there was a return where brought influences and modern references had consequences for the adaptation of the architecture in the Algarve.

With the use of simple geometric shapes, the systematic use of columns, large continuous glass spans and the separation between the facade and the structure itself (which gave great freedom with regard to the internal organization of the buildings and the facade itself). There was a concern to integrate the architecture with the surrounding landscape and with the visual arts, such as through the introduction of tile panels, murals and sculpture.

In all his projects, whether single-family homes or collective housing complexes, an element of Modern Brazilian Architecture is visible and this is repeated in the Algarve in countless projects by other architects. One of the hallmarks of modernism in the Algarve is the innovative shading systems that protect against the light and heat of the sun on glass surfaces.

It uses brise soleils and shade flaps to regulate the heat in the interior spaces and the intensity of the sunlight, while maintaining air circulation, allowing better control of energy consumption. This system of brise soleils is used in vertical, horizontal or mixed elements, these are located in the area of the house where protection from the sun's rays or more privacy is needed, these [...] are materialized in the prefabricated concrete elements of brise soleils and grilles, in wooden and plastic strips, in the creative use of profiled aluminum in horizontal and vertical composition elements [...] 

Gomes da Costa's process in using brise soleils can be distinguished in three stages:

* A first phase (1950s and 1960s) in which reinforced concrete sought lightness, where prefabricated cement elements and sometimes wooden gratings filtered the sunlight.

* A second phase (1970s-1980s) in which reinforced concrete and wood are replaced by lighter elements, such as aluminum or PVC shutters, placed in strategic places.

* And a last one (1990s-2000s) where concrete again takes center stage - far from the lightness of the 1950s - and is associated with light metal elements, mostly aluminum and PVC.

Looking for Manuel Gomes da Costa

Video about the search for the work of the "Modernist" Architect Manuel Gomes da Costa (1921-2016) in his birthplace Vila Real de Santo António, place of birth where he realized one of his last projects (his own holiday home).


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Architectural views of Architect Manuel Gomes da Costa

By Jose Joaquín Parra Banon Spanish & Dutch

Article in Spanish & Dutch about the "Architectural Principes" in the works of Architect Manuel Gomes da Costa

Download here (Spanish)

Download here (Dutch)

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Manuel Gomes da Costa
Moderno ao Sul


Prints of the panels used in the exhibition: "Moderno ao Sul" in 2009 in Faro about the work of the Architect Manuel Gomes da Costa (Portuguese).


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Manuel Gomes da Costa.

The Architect's Algarvian House

Article in Spanish & Dutch from Arq. Jose Joaquín Parra Banon about the Algarve House (his own house in Faro) from Manuel Gomes da Costa

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Download here (Dutch)

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Manuel Gomes da Costa:

A Universe in Sketches

Article in Spanish & Dutch from Miriam Lousame Gutiérrez from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. Universidad de Sevilla.

The exhibition held in 2009 in Faro, Portugal, about the work of Manuel Gomes da Costa (1921), “MGC, moderno ao Sul”, had among the exposed material some sketches of the architect dating from 1951 and 1952, when he began his professional career.


Twenty-eight formats with heterogeneous thematic calligraphic drawings representing a major source of information for the analysis of the architect’s work: their ideas, concerns, aspirations, tastes, influences. They reflect a process of research initiated at an early stage of his career that will pay off later and will result in his built work, mainly in the first two decades of his professional work, between the 50’s and the 60’s.

Download here (Spanish) 

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Manuel Gomes da Costa. The Algarve version of local Modern Architecture

Article in Spanish & Dutch from Arq. Jose Joaquín Parra Banon from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. Universidad de Sevilla.about the Algarve version of Modern Architecture from Manuel Gomes da Costa.

Download here (Spanish)

Download here (Dutch) 

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Marcel Breuer and Manuel Gomes da Costa: Similarities in Architectural Language

Article in Spanish & Dutch from Arq. Jose Joaquín Parra Banon from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. Universidad de Sevilla.about the similarities in the architectural language of Marcel Breuer and Manuel Gomes da Costa


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The main tool for understanding the work of the Church of Santa Luzia from Manuel Gomes da Costa in this study is based on a series of drawings that allowes you to understand the line of work of this architect. 

Download here (Spanish)

Download here (Dutch)

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