Guia, Algarve

Note the sequence of steps

This row of nicely repainted one storey buildings was originally designed as a unity for what was probably residential purposes. Located on a busy, main road in Guia, a small town not far inland from the coast of Portugal’s Algarve, they form a part of the region’s Art Deco heritage today. There is a felicitous balance of vertical and horizontal elements.

Horizontal bars in pink are the main decorative element

Condes Cinema, Lisbon

Façade of the Condes Cinema

While the Condes Cinema opened in 1951 buildings at this location of Praça dos Restauradores at Rua Condes already had a long history as theatres. First opening as the Teatro da Rua dos Condes in 1738, the theatre began its life as an opera house. It was constructed on land on land owned by the Conde da Ericeira (Count of Ericeira) by what is now known as the Rua Condes. This was a part of the city popular with the nobility, and several aristocrats had their palaces there. The theatre had to be rebuilt in 1755 after being badly damaged by the terrible Lisbon earthquake earlier that year.

A new theatre, the Teatro Novo da Rua dos Condes, was constructed in 1888 on the same location, and ten years later it  remodelled inside to increase seating capacity. Then the twentieth century and its technological marvels arrived and by 1915 theatre had been converted into a cinema. This survived for decades until 1951 when it was torn apart to make way for a purpose-built cinema, the building we see today. The architect Raul Tojal began with the shell of the previous theatre and the new cinema was able to project 70mm films. The new Condes Cinema almost survived until the twenty-first century, closing in 1997. It was converted into the Hard Rock Café, Lisbon, in 2003.

The angel of cinema
The corner location at Praça dos Restauradores

Rua Abade Faria 52, Lisbon

A modest stack of pleasing curves

We could certainly label this Lisbon apartment building as being Streamline Moderne with its racy, curving balconies. The street it is located on is named after a fascinating character known as Abade Faria, or Abbot Faria, born in 1756 in the Portuguese Indian colony of Goa as José Custódio de Faria. Aside from being a man of the cloth he was a revolutionary, and also one of the first to study hypnotism.

The building stands on a corner lot

Eden Teatro, Lisbon

Possibly Lisbon’s most impressive Art Deco façade

The Eden Teatro, or Eden Theatre, sits on the Praça dos Restauradores in central Lisbon, and is one of Lisbon’s most spectacular cinema buildings, showing films up until 1989. Cassiano Branco and Carlo Florencio Dias were the architects responsible for this Art Deco palace, which opened in 1931. The building features a magnificent, creamy pink coloured marble façade and a floating stone frieze across the top. There is also an abundance of geometric fenestration throughout. The interior was altered when it was converted into an apart-hotel complex in 2001.

Take note of the masks mascarading as capitals
Some details of the carved frieze

Rua Pedro Álvares Cabral, Alvor

The parapet is modest gem

This is a small, two storey building in the Portuguese seaside town of Alvor. Alas, only the upper floor maintains the original Art Deco form, in particular the parapet which comes replete with steps, massings and horizontal bars tricked out in blue. Pedro Álvares Cabral was a Portuguese nobleman, military commander, navigator and explorer regarded as the European discoverer of Brazil.

A traditional, orange, ceramic roof sits behind the parapet

Apartments, Lisbon

A distinctive corner tower

There are some apartment blocks on the Avenida António Augusto de Aguiar which have excellent Art Deco reliefs over their entrances. These are in the Saldanha district of Lisbon and belong to a group which probably all had the same team of architects.

The supportive family

The first is a building located at Avenida António Augusto de Aguiar 15, which features a corner tower that has a large, carved, stone relief of a family group above the entrance at its base. The mother and father are portrayed giving support on either side of the child.

The lovebirds at #9

Nearby at Avenida António Augusto de Aguiar #9 and #7 are two other related buildings with excellent street level carved, stone reliefs. The one at number #9 features a courting couple of birds, and at #7 a reclining woman lies wreathed with draperies. A date and the sculptor’s name is just visible on the latter at bottom left: 1942, Leopoldo.

Asleep and dreaming, perhaps?

Apartments, central Lisbon

A balanced exterior

This five-storey apartment block constructed in 1937 has a façade which has a perfect balance of horizontal and vertical elements. Located in central Lisbon, the architect was Cassiano Branco who also designed the Victoria Hotel there. He used shallow, rectangular setbacks emerging from a central axis formed of three continuous bevelled bars rising as a fin from just above the entrance up to the roofline. In contrast to the purely rectilinear façade the entry doors are composed of playful triangles and circles.

A marble-lined entry to the building

Albufeira, Portugal

A simple but effective façade

A modest, Art Deco bungalow in the seaside city of Albufeira, in the Algarve region of southern Portugal. There is a date at the top centre of the building of 8 October, 1953, and below this a series of diagonals making what could be either a zigzag or a pair of mountain peaks. Underneath all of this is a five-pointed star.

Horizontal and vertical elements at the sides

Victoria Hotel, 170 Avenida da Liberdade, Lisbon

Startling modernity in Lisbon in 1936

The Victoria Hotel was designed by the tremendously talented architect Cassiano Viriato Branco, who also designed other landmark, mid-war buildings in Lisbon such as the Teatro Éden. Work began in 1934 on the project and it was completed in 1936, though this was only part of the architect’s concept.

The building had a number of features, including a facing of pink marble, but the most eye-catching one was certainly the circular balconies stacked along the corner of the six-storey building. These were cleverly echoed with a round porch projecting out above the entrance.

By the mid 1970s the hotel had become run down and neglected which engendered an attempt to revive it. Nothing came of this in the end and the building was bought in 1985 by the Lisbon branch of the Portuguese Communist Party, and it remains their regional headquarters.

A striking entrance

Avenida Sidonio Pais 18, Lisbon

Façade of Avenida Sidonio Pais 18

Sitting just opposite Lisbon’s expansive Parque Eduardo VII (Edward VII Park, named in honour of the UK monarch who visited Portugal in 1903), the building at Avenida Sidonio Pais 18 is one of a cluster of contiguous structures which probably all had the same team of architects. These are most likely buildings from the 1940s and nearly all of them have at least a sculpture over the main entrance.

Avenida Sidonio Pais 18 is a modern building with a Classical touch not only in the window pediments on the exterior but also in its ambitious sculpture programme. On either side of the front entrance are vertical groups of four carved, stone reliefs. These depict in fine Art Deco style eight of the nine Muses, those Classical personifications of the arts and knowledge including Clio, the Muse of history and Euterpe, the Muse of flutes and lyric poetry.

Stone reliefs of the Muses by the front entrance
Clio, the Muse of history
Euterpe, the Muse of flutes and lyric poetry