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Manuel Laginha  

The architect & his projects

The pioneers of 'Modern' architecture in the Algarve in the 1950s-'60s

At the same time that architecture of the "official taste" prevailed, talented and non-conformist young architects, born in the Algarve and of a new generation, who completed their studies at the end of the 1940s, started their practice in a modernist language and political setting (socializing,internationalist, left).

Manuel Laginha, Manuel Gomes da Costa and António Vicente de Castro are currently the three best-known names, in the Algarve of the '50s -'60s. After their Graduation in Porto (where they completed their studies due to a non-conformity that caused tensions in Lisbon (the school, with a reactionary and classical orientation that they previously attended) these architects started in the respective cities where they settled or went to work the first qualified examples of the so-called "modern architecture of the international movement" a post-war architecture built in the Algarve.


We especially associate Manuel Laginha with LouléManuel Gomes da Costa with Faro and António Vicente de Castro with Portimão. In these cities but also in other cities in the Algarve, they have contributed to the construction of a modern, consistent andeffective urban planning and architectural image. They are the best known modern architects from the Algarve of the 50s -'60s 


Manuel Laginha was born in Loulé and began studying Architecture at the Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa. Between 1940 and 1945 he studied at the Escola de Belas Artes do Porto, with the Ventura Terra Scholarship, graduating in 1947.


Between 1948 and '52 he was an employee of the Lisbon City Council (CML), in the Architecture department, and between 1952 and '85, at the General Directorate of Urbanization Services (MOP), where he entered through a public competition. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Union of Architects (currently Associação dos Arquitectos Portugueses) in the biennium 1952-54 and a member of the Portuguese section of the U.I.A.


In 1953, whilst employed by the D.G.S.U., he undertook a study trip to Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, of which a report was published four years later. In 1957 he attended the urban planning course at the University College of London, as a scholarship holder from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, and did an internship at the Department of Architecture at the London County Council.

He developed extensive architectural activity in Lisbon, leaving notable interventions, namely in Olivais-Sul and in a housing complex on the North front of Av. Estados Unidos da América (between the avenues of Rio de Janeiro and Almirante Gago Coutinho) 1955-1956, in collaboration with the architects Pedro Cid and João Vasconcelos – Municipal Architecture Prize in 1957, in Carcavelos, Setúbal, Seixal and Milan (Instituto Luso-Fármaco).

He was the author of the urbanization plans for Campo Maior, Vila Verde de Ficalho, Praia de Quarteira, Loulé, Lagoa de Santo André, Alvalade, Melides and Termas de Monfortinho. He also authored the Sub-Regional Plan for Sector XI of the Algarve (Cacela/Vila Real de Santo António), in 1969, and the Plan for the Region of Corimba – Ilha do Mussulo (Angola), in 1976. He participated in congresses and conferences in Portugal, Finland, Holland, France and Luxembourg.


From 1963 onwards he began providing urban assistance to the Setúbal District Council. He constituted, with Arnaldo Araújo and Frederico George, one of the three finalist teams in the competition for the design of the headquarters and museum of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (Lisbon) in 1959.

Projects in Lisbon

In Loulé he “created a school” and his projects were imitated by engineers and designers. Still today, the Casa da Primeira Infância or Creche, Building no. 10 on Praça da República, Building no. 36 on Av. Marçal Pacheco, the Laginha Ramos House, on Rua David Teixeira, nº 121, and Alfaiataria York, in addition to houses and buildings in Quarteira and Olhos de Água. He also designed the Assistance Center (CASP) in Olhão , in collaboration with Rogério Buridant Martins and Casa de Paderne, Albufeira (1948).  Laginhas  practice of modern urban architecture in Loulé, was soon followed by designers and engineers, who repeated and reinvented modern themes using reinforced concrete. Sometimes in an interesting and creative way with balconies, pergolas, ceramic grilles and polychrome tile coverings. Perhaps the most important example is that of João Campos dos Santos, a designer with a large number of signature works in provocative modernism.

Projects in Loulé & Paderne

His professional activity - whose first years coincided with the widespread dissemination of architecture linked to the Modern Movement in Portugal - was guided by a careful adoption of the founding principles of this movement, the result of solid training constantly informed by the international situation. These same principles were used as fundamental instruments in the reaction to the official nationalist architecture still in force.

Projects in Quarteira  - Existing and demolished


He died prematurely, victim of being run over, on Av. Da Liberdade in Lisbon. Manuel Maria Laginha's library and personal archive includes some of his projects that can be consulted through the Inventory of Architectural Heritage at the General Directorate of National Buildings and Monuments. Loulé City Council gave its name, in 2008, to an avenue in the city.


“Manuel Laginha's architectural practice reveals the strong commitment placed on the 'modern' translation of the local constants of architecture (such as scale, materials, and construction techniques and chromaticism) and on the 'contamination of internationally popularized modern forms by regional specificities , purged of the easy decorative characterization that weighed down other 'regionalizing' interpretations. In this balance, between modern theory and form and vernacular ancestral practice, lies the founding element of Manuel Laginha's architecture, greatly enriched by experiences of similar meaning then underway in Brazil. The mastery of some Brazilian achievements at the time, recognized worldwide, found an echo in numerous architects of his generation and a competent Portuguese interpreter in Laginha, who would formalize it in exemplary objects, such as his two Social Assistance Centers, in the Algarve”.

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