Henrik Karlsen

Moz. Studies

3/11/13

What made Pancho Guedes such a renowned architect?
What I mean my renowned is that Pancho Guedes shot to fame after working in Lourenco Marques, during the time when architects in the growing city were much needed. Poncho Guedes specialized in housing, specifically small apartment block. It is difficult to judge how good of an architect Pancho really was by looking at his works here in Maputo today, because so many of them have either been burnt down or are in a bad shape. With that in mind I was fortunate enough to live in one of his houses for three years. The one source I am using is a biographical essay by Cedric Green. It can be found on a website dedicated toward Pancho Guedes. It gives a lot of relevant background information, and talks a lot about his influences and style. The other main source I am using is an article dedicated to Pancho Guedes by a famous architectural magazine called, ‘The Architectural Review.’ Being a magazine dedicated to Architecture it doesn’t talk much about him, but rather goes into detail about his various works. In the essay I will talk about Poncho’s influences and education, and then move on to his work in Lourenco Marques. My sequence will be from around 1940 through to 1975. In this essay I will attempt to find out why Pancho Guedes is such a renowned architect, by looking into his style, influences and education, and then also understanding what was going on around him in Lourenco Marques. My first source is a biographical essay by Cedric Green. It was first published in June 2006. Its purpose is a biography of Poncho Guedes, so it talks about his life as well as his architecture. Its value lies in its relevant information about Poncho Guedes, as it gives the reader a great understanding of who he is, and some of his basic work. Its main limitation would be that it is slightly biased towards Portugal as it was published for a Portuguese catalogue, and it was edited by the Portuguese institute of Art. My second source is from an Architectural magazine. It was published on 27th of March, 2012. Its purpose is to give the reader a broad understanding of Poncho Guedes works, going into great detail about his style and influences. Its value is that it is a non-biased view on only his work. Though its limitation is that it is quite a difficult read as it uses a lot of ‘Architectural language’ so it’s hard to understand. (Green) At the tender age of 7, Amâncio d'Alpoim Miranda (Pancho) Guedes moved to Lourenco Marques with his parents. He got his Architectural degree at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. It is said that he showed great talent right from the beginning. After Guedes had gotten his Architectural degree, he went back home to Lourenco Marques, where he stared designing different buildings, it is said that he created over 500 designs. Though his long commitment to Mozambique ended, when the country got its independence, and he fled, briefly, back to Europe. It was not long before he became Deanship of Architecture at the University of Witwatersrand, where he once studied. Rather peculiarly, Pancho Guedes abruptly left South Africa as the Apartheid ended.

Henrik Karlsen

Moz. Studies

3/11/13

(Cook) As stated previously, Pancho Guedes studied at the University of Witwatersrand, where he was taught all he knew about architecture. Amongst his many teachers, one, Donald Pilcher persuaded him that architecture, above all else is an art form, but unlike a painting or a sculpture, it is a practical one. This really shines through in a lot of his work, as he is known, especially in Maputo for his practicality, without sacrificing its unique style. A good example of this would be one of his houses called, “Almiro do Vale” in Maputo.

As you can see, this beautiful house, although rather bizarre in its creation, still maintains function in being a home, and not just a sculpture you can sleep in. After his education, he needed to find his own unique style. What he came up with, he would later coin, “American-Egyptian style”. With the practicality of the Urban American household, to the wild, exotic buildings of Egypt, Pancho Guedes found a middle ground. The best example of his African influences would be, “The smiling Lion”.

In this apartment block, it is hard not to see his African influences, from the abrupt sculpting to the vibrant colours, and the beautiful mural. It is straightforwardly planned but uninhibitedly sculpted.

Henrik Karlsen

Moz. Studies

3/11/13

Other than the fact that Pancho Guedes is clearly a great architect, I believe that a lot of his publicity so to say, was brought on by circumstance. As we know Pancho Guedes did the majority of his work in Mozambique, specifically in a then Lourenco Marques. It was in that time that more and more Portuguese people we flooding in to the country, and the city was growing ten-fold, especially with the help from the gold rush in South Africa. Because of all this, houses needed to be built. I believe Pancho Guedes took that chance to rise above the average concrete blocks and cement apartments, to create something different, unique to the country. Buildings that made him stand out. So after gaining a reputation in Maputo, he could move around more, and start designing buildings in South Africa, Barcelona, and all over the rest of Europe. It is easy to see why the said, Charismatic Architect became so renowned around the world. Wether it was because of his unique blend of African art and style, and the American Practicality, or the fact that he was given a great opportunity to help shape and design a part of the ever-expanding colonial wonder of Lourenco Marques, or how we know it as today, Maputo. It would be great to be able to further research more of the aspiring young people who designed Maputo in those times, as they all seem to have their own particular story, and unique ideas. There are also so many more great buildings in Maputo, for example tho old Railway station, which is said to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world even today!

Bibliography
Cook, Peter. "PANCHO GUEDES." 24 January 2009. The Architecural Review. 20 October 2013 <http://www.architectural-review.com/pancho-guedes/8628204.article>. Green, Cedric. Amâncio d'Alpoim Miranda (Pancho) Guedes. Venice: LISBOSCOPIO, 2006.

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