Brazilians’ Houses: Assertion of an Architectural Identity in Northern Portugal

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Alda Neto, University of Porto, Portugal


    At the end of the 19th and in the 20th centuries the return of a large number of Portuguese emigrants coming from Brazil, originating from the northern parts of the country, namely Minho and Douro, took place. These emigrants brought considerable fortunes, made in Brazilian trade and industry. This return led to the claiming of a personal and material identity, visible in the route they set in their places of origin and in the property they built and/or preserved, which was the case of the houses. These houses, named by the local population and by historiography as “Brazilians’ houses”, are an effort to reflect the personal and professional assertion of the successful emigrant – the Brazilian. Among this material heritage built by Portuguese emigrants, the houses stand out, which represent the work path in Brazil; that route is reflected both in the interior decoration ( mural paintings, exotic wood) and in the exterior (sculptural representations of trade or industry and the use of granite). These houses show influence of the artistic tendencies of the 19th century, like Nouveau Art (iron and tiles) or Romanticism (ruins). Thus, tradition and modernity establish in this example of patrimony a dialogue which allowed the creation of an architectural identity particular to Northern Portugal. The houses, the places, the regions and the people have a spirit, always composed of differences and interdependence. This patrimony has thus been characterized by a dialogue between the places and the peoples, namely by criticism to the architectural changes brought in, called “examples of bad taste”. This kind of heritage is thus considered to be worth an approach in terms of patrimony and architectural valorization, but above all it should be the object of intense work of preservation and rehabilitation. Everybody has the right to be included and participate in the valorization of this patrimony, according to their choices, as a way of ensuring the right to freely take part in cultural life. Hence the importance of promoting and deepening the participation of citizens in the preservation of this patrimony.