In the late nineteenth century, Portugal initiated a debate about the best form of architecture for secondary schools. The construction of a number of lyceums and technical schools was planned, but this work took place at a very slow rate throughout the first decades of the twentieth century. Although these schools, designed by well-known architects such as Miguel Ventura Terra, Marques da Silva, Jorge Segurado, Cristino da Silva, Carlos Ramos and Cottinelli Telmo, were fairly insignificant in size, they are now acknowledged as representing an important legacy in terms of the Portuguese architectural heritage.
The year 1934 marked a turning point, with the creation of the Junta das Construções para o Ensino Técnico e Secundário (JCETS – Board of Constructions for Technical and Secondary Education) under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications. This board centralised responsibility for the design and production of almost all state school buildings, until it was disbanded in 1969 with the creation of the Direcção-Geral das Construções Escolares (Directorate-General for School Buildings, 1969-1985).
The economic, social and educational needs of the time required JCETS to provide a new approach to school design and its accompanying technical questions. The increasing demand for school places called for the large-scale construction of new schools, which, in turn, led to the need for new procedures in the design and construction of schools, supported by the systematisation of architectural solutions and the rationalisation of construction procedures. This paved the way for the development of a series of standard projects at the end of the 1960s and their widespread adoption over the following decades. At the same time, the responsibility for the design of a small number of schools was given to some well-known Portuguese architects from outside JCETS, who developed tailor-made solutions that were quite distinct from the state schools built by JCETS. Besides being an important part of our architectural heritage, most of these schools still remain in operation today, so that they need to be studied in greater depth in order to better support future interventions.
Atlas of School Architecture in Portugal – Education, Heritage and Challenges is a research project funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology) and involving a group of researchers from different universities and different fields of study: architecture, education, history, town planning, interior design/furniture, construction, energy efficiency and documentation. ASAP-EHC seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of school architecture in Portugal, focusing on buildings for secondary (lyceums and technical schools) and middle school education (industrial institutes, agricultural schools and primary schools), promoted by the State and built between the late nineteenth century and the early 1970s, when a major reform was introduced, changing the educational paradigm in Portugal. The research has the support of the historical archive of the Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Educação e Ciência (SGMEC – General Secretariat of the Ministry of Education and Science), as the participating institution, which houses important documentary resources in its archives, mainly about public school buildings.
The aims of the research are:
1. To identify the interactions between educational policies, political ideologies, social and economic concerns, and their impact on the design and use of schools;
2. To understand the multi and interdisciplinary approach to the topic of school design, making crossovers between such disciplines as education, architecture, interior design/furniture, history, town planning, construction and technology, and energy efficiency;
3. To identify the uniqueness of the Portuguese approach to school design, its evolution, specificities, innovations and influences, based on two distinct methodologies:
- Analysis of the documentation that is available in the SGMEC archives, complemented by a detailed survey of libraries, architects’ private collections, school archives, etc.;
- Comparative analysis of the situation in other countries, particularly in Europe and North America, identifying influences, similarities and divergences, and determining the extent of autonomy in the Portuguese case;
4. To raise awareness about the architectural heritage of Portuguese school building, identifying its potentialities, constraints, weaknesses and the extent of its resilience, and recognising its identity, architectural values and cultural significance.
The study will have several phases of development, with different scales of analysis and complementary results:
1. Data survey, classification and scanning of the different type of documents (design and building processes, technical documentation, visit reports, administrative documents, photographs, catalogues, etc.) from the SGMEC archives, according to its inventory records. This archive material constitutes an important legacy for the history of school architecture in Portugal, and, in a broader sense, for the history of architecture and education in Portugal;
2. Design of a public online platform that geographically maps the schools under study and systematises all the archive information relating to each school that was collected in the previous phase, organised in the form of an architectural ATLAS that will allow for thematic searches based on different criteria. This is an opportunity to share this archive material with a wider audience, while, at the same time, giving the much-needed impetus for safeguarding this archive material, making it more visible and raising awareness of its heritage value;
3. Understanding the evolution, continuities and breaks in school architecture and building programmes in Portugal, viewed from a historical perspective and resulting from different political and legal contexts, educational policies and curricular reforms, as well as different social and economic concerns;
4. Based on this broader analysis, a deeper and more detailed study will be carried out, taking the form of a series of case studies with distinct approaches (architecture, education and construction) and different levels of observation (urban context, school building and classroom). The aim is to arrive at a characterisation of their production and evolution, and to undertake a diagnosis of the adaptation of the school space to the demands currently affecting the educational aspects of school organisation, taking account of learning methodologies, virtual space, the use of educational spaces by the community, safety requirements (structural and seismic risks, and fire hazards), comfort, energy efficiency, accessibility and the integration of all members within the school community.
Project reference: PTDC/ATP-AQI/3273/2014
Financial Support: Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia
Principal Contractor: Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e o Desenvolvimento (IST-ID)
Participating Institution: Secretaria-Geral do Ministério da Educação e Ciência
Research Units: Engenharia Civil – Investigação e Inovação para a Sustentabilidade (CERIS), Centro de Estudos Sociais (CES), Centro de Investigação em Arquitectura, Urbanismo e Design (CIAUD), Unidade de Investigação e Desenvolvimento em Educação e Formação (UIDEF/IE/UL)
Start Date: June 2016
End Date: November 2019