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Regionalism, modernism and vernacular tradition in the architecture of Algarve, Portugal, 1925-1965

Agarez, RMC; (2013) Regionalism, modernism and vernacular tradition in the architecture of Algarve, Portugal, 1925-1965. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis looks at the contribution of real and constructed local traditions to modern building practices and discourses in a specific region, focusing on the case of Algarve, southern Portugal, between 1925 and 1965. By shifting the main research focus from the centre to the region, and by placing a strong emphasis on fieldwork and previously overlooked sources (the archives of provincial bodies, municipalities and architects), the thesis scrutinises canonical accounts of the interaction of regionalism with modernism. It examines how architectural ‘regionalism’, often discussed at a central level through the work of acknowledged metropolitan architects, was interpreted by local practices in everyday building activity. Was there a real local concern with vernacular traditions, or was this essentially a construct of educated metropolitan circles, both at the time and retrospectively? Circuits and agents of influence and dissemination are traced, the careers of locally relevant designers come to light, and a more comprehensive view of architectural production is offered. Departing from conventional narratives that present pre-war regionalism in Portugal as a stereotype-driven, one-way central construct, the creation of a regional built identity for Algarve emerges here as the result of combined local, regional and central agencies, mediated both through concrete building practice and discourses outside architecture. Post-war regionalism appears as more than a sophisticated re-appropriation of vernacular features by cultured architects to overcome the shortcomings of both modernist orthodoxy and official stylistic conservatism: the thesis shows how Algarve’s traditional features allowed modernism to be pragmatically restyled as locally sensitive and keep its fundamentals unquestioned; and the architects’ authority to be reasserted where non-architects dominated. Tradition became the key to architecture’s future. Regionalism, a consistent undercurrent of twentieth-century architecture, resurfaced and was morphed by modernism, with mutual benefit. In Algarve, vernacular tradition and regional agency appear as not mere footnotes in the narrative of modernism, but as part of its main text.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Regionalism, modernism and vernacular tradition in the architecture of Algarve, Portugal, 1925-1965
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright restricted material has been removed from the digital copy of the e-thesis
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1383808
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