Fry and Drew: Conference
‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 11
José Luís Possolo de Saldanha, ‘Luís Possolo – The Portuguese–speaking Architect at the 1st AA Course in Tropical Architecture’
Luís Gonzaga Pedroso Possolo (Lisbon, 1924) was the only Portuguese‐speaking architect at the 1954/55 first edition of the Architectural Association’s Course in Tropical Architecture, held under Maxwell Fry.
Possolo’s performance seems to have been of a high standard there. In his report for the Portuguese Overseas Affairs Undersecretary of State, he points out that from all 120 designs by the students in class, only seven were selected for an exhibition at the AA ‐ Possolo being the only one to have two designs shown.
The grading panel at the course was made of Fry, Jane Drew, and J. Mckay Spence (who was Deputy Director for the Department). All grading reports on Possolo’s designs are extant, as well as his AA Diploma and a number of interesting documents ‐ such as his letters to, and from, Fry, Drew, Drake & Lasdun, upon finishing his Course at the AA, that show he was close to being hired by the office. However, he chose instead to return to Portugal, where he worked at the Overseas Planning Office (Gabinete de Urbanização do Ultramar) and produced a number of fine designs for Portuguese Africa.
Possolo’s auspicious period at the GUU then led him to privately design a number of highly creative projects – two of which were particularly important in Mozambique and Angola’s development and modernisation: the buildings for the Cambambe Dam, in Angola, and the Nacala Cement Factory, a mile north of the Mozambican city and port of Nacala.
In Possolo’s papers, we also find sketches deriving from projects by Fry and Drew, and a number of black‐and‐white photographs of tropical architecture by British offices. These provide evidence of the young architect’s keenness in following tropical architecture along the guidelines of the AA course. This also clearly comes through in his own built projects for Africa.
José Luís Possolo de Saldanha graduated in architecture at the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa Faculty of Architecture in 1990. He held a scholarship (1999–2002) from Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian for his PhD, which he presented in 2003 at the University of Seville Superior Technical School of Architecture.
He has lectured in Architecture since 1996, and is an Assistant Professor with tenure in the Architecture and Urbanism Department at ISCTE-IUL (University Institute of Lisbon), where he has been teaching since 2006. He is presently President of the Pedagogic Council of this Higher Education Institution for the 2013–2014 biennium.
José Luís Saldanha is a member of the Dinâmia-CET Research Centre at ISCTE-IUL and has presented papers and authored, or co-authored, articles, books and chapters of books on a wide range of architectural themes, such as landscape, building design and tropical architecture. He has also been active in designing architecture for private and institutional clients in continental and insular parts of Portugal.