Maputo [Lourenço Marques]

Lat: -25.973213999503000, Long: 32.570853999982000

Maputo [Lourenço Marques]

Maputo, Mozambique

Historical Background and Urbanism

Located in southern Mozambique, on an estuary where more than four major rivers meet, the city of Maputo is the capital of the country. Of a very recent formation and development, Maputo has a privileged geographical and topographic location and has a clearly defined and organized urban fabric, in terms of the territory’s morphology.
In 1544, the Portuguese Lourenço Marques, the name adopted as the city until Mozambique’s independence, explored some lands on the outskirts of Maputo bay. The Portuguese crown ordered the construction of a fortress-trading post there. A fort was built in 1782 (> Our Lady of Conception Fortress). In 1825, the Companhia Comercial de Lourenço Marques (Lourenço Marques Commercial Company) established itself in the future urban area which would be the definitive site of the city. Owen’s map, which depicts Delagoa Bay, in 1822-1827, indicates the Portuguese Fort. In 1825, there was a house built outside the fortress; in 1841-1844 there were 19 wooden houses; and in 1851-1854 there were already two masonry houses. The defence line of the settlement was constructed in 1867-1868, clearly defining the first small coastal urban core. It was implemented along the future Linha Street (later República Avenue, present day 25 de Setembro). The emerging core had 56 stone houses, for around 1,100 inhabitants; the centre corresponded to the 7 de Março Square (or Picota Square, with the Our Lady of Conception Fortress). The main streets of the core of the city under construction were Alegria/Dom Luís/ Consiglieri Pedroso and Mercadores/Major Araújo, which organized some kind of citadel with two streets, a square and a fort, surrounded by a wall (present day downtown area). This nearly medieval style of the foundational core shows the capacities of persistence and continuity of the models of Portuguese urbanism over a long period.
On the 19th December 1876, the settlement was raised to town status, with a municipal regime. Its urban area then corresponded simply to the present day city centre, with a modest structure of two or three streets parallel to the coast emerging from the fortress square (cf. map of that year published in 1926, Lobato, 1970, p. 170). There are two unexecuted plans dating from 1878: the map by F. Jeppe, with the project of a New Township isolated from the city, atop Alto Maé; and the map of the Nova Povoação in Maxaquene, to the north-east, with a geometric core, autonomous from the existing settlement, with a central square in the shape of an hexagon, by Ferreira Maia. The engravings by Augusto de Castilho, from 1881, are fine documents of the city. The same can be said of the image of 1884 (Silveira, vol. II, est. 392). The core of the town was connected through King Manuel Avenue to the areas of the hospital and church, both on the outskirts – which soon marked the locations of the future establishments, for healthcare and religious purposes. Before 1870, Maputo was nothing more than a trading point protected by a small fort. But the treaty of 1869 with Transvaal and the increase in trade from the hinterland, a result of the discovery of iron ore, soon turned Lourenço Marques/Maputo into one of the most developed urban centres in Africa.
In 1887, major António José Araújo (also an engineer) proposed a plan to provide the upper city with long avenues. That plan, or its development, must have also involved the participation of the engineer Joaquim José Machado. Identified as Plano de Ampliação da Cidade de Lourenço Marques (Plan for the Enlargement of the city Lourenço Marques), it is a document of great interest and value, kept at the Historical Archives of Maputo (AHM, D.1.34). On December 1887 it was signed by the author (António José de Araújo, director of the Public Works of Lourenço Marques) and mentions the Ministry of the Navy and Overseas Affairs (Overseas General Direction – Public Works Department). This plan was officially approved in 1892. Thus emerged a regular lay-out which expressed the practical sense of the military engineering models. It outlined the whole city – the most “modern” in Portuguese Africa at the time – with a rigorous initial grid, with ten streets in the southwest/northeast direction (from Augusto de Castilho/Lenine Avenue to Angola Avenue) and eight in the northwest/southeast direction, from República/25 de Setembro Avenue – connecting with the existing downtown – to Pinheiro Chagas/Eduardo Mondlane Avenue. The city would then have around 1,400 inhabitants. The cemetery, north of this ensemble, was naturally set on the outskirts, marking the boundary of this first stage of expansion.
On the 10th November 1887, Maputo was elevated to city status and, on the 1st December 1898, it became the capital of the Portuguese Colony of Mozambique, a status until then held by the Island of Mozambique. The 1887 plan enabled the expansion of the city with a new scale and grandeur, continuing the existing fabric of the former settlement, towards the vast areas on the north. This was followed by the drying out of the swamp with a dike around the old core and the demolition of the defence line (in 1888). This intervention is visible on the map entitled Cidade de Lourenço Marques e Projecto de Ampliação, to a scale of 1:20,000, overlapping on Owen’s map (Lobato, 1970, p. 179). There are several urbanistic accounts of this period: by engineer António José de Araújo, the plan for António Augusto de Aguiar Avenue from 1887; and the Plano da nova cidade de Lourenço Marques, feito por M. Murdo, of the 19th October 1888 (Exposição..., 1937, nos. 50, 57 and 71). This last document surely alludes to the American MacMurdo and it possibly corresponds to the plan for the area of Ponta Vermelha, which was only included in the city in 1896.
In 1902, the urban core was already provided with the main infrastructures for the start of a growing urbanization, such as tap water, telegraph, a lighting system and a tram network. The city thus began its expansion from the south/southeast to the north/ northwest, ascending the esscarpment of the plateau on an orthogonal plan with the longitudinal and transversal arteries in the north/south and east/west directions, respectively, enabling the typological incorporation of the blocks in a regular pattern. Therefore, until 1895 the city grew, on the one hand, towards Alto Mahé (to the northwest of the foundational core); on the other to the east (to the lands of the future quarters of Ponta Vermelha and Polana, which were in the hands of English owners). Between 1895 and 1914, after negotiations (with the owners of the lands), there was a consolidation of the expansion the southeast to Polana – and to the northeast to Maxaquene. A project for the city’s port, which was connected and improved the previous plan of 1887, was designed in 1909 by the inspector of Public Works, Costa Serrão. In 1925, the urban fabric covered the sections of Ponta Vermelha/ Polana/ Maxaquene to the area of the centre and the plan of 1887, being connected to the surrounding ring road. A map of 1903, reviewed in 1925 (Insurance Plan of Lourenço Marques. Delagoa Bay, Historical Archive of Maputo), shows the properties and buildings of the centre in great detail. A general map from 1926 shows continued urban development, already beyond Pinheiro Chagas Avenue to the north.
The growth in terms of inhabitants and constructions followed this urban boom: in 1887, it would have around 100 houses; in 1898 it had around 2,400 inhabitants; in 1912 it included 2,134 houses. In 1910, 14,000 inhabitants, and in 1930, 20,600 (about 8,000 whites and 8,000 blacks). Within this context, and until 1930, the population was concentrated on the central area as far as 5 de Outubro Avenue, and towards Alto Maé and the coastline of Polana/Ponta Vermelha.
In the early 1940s, the municipality asked architect and urbanist Luís Cristino da Silva, based in Lisbon, to develop the urbanization plan. Throughout this decade a new civic axis was defined in the south/ north direction, between the original 7 de Março Square (Central, in downtown), the new Municipal Square (municipal building, 1947, and the equestrian statue of Mouzinho de Albuquerque) and the Cathedral (1944), intended as a monumental work. Between 1947 and 1952, the Ministry of Overseas Affairs promoted the design of an Urbanization Plan for the city, which was approved in 1955. Entitled Plano de Urbanização de Lourenço Marques, it was drawn up by the Gabinete de Urbanização do Ultramar (Office for Overseas Urbanization). Designed during the Estado Novo, the plan adopted a style and discipline in design that was often interpreted as a means of consolidation of the grandeur of the regime’s image. As the city consolidated itself as a centre of regional attraction, the rate of population growth quadrupled between 1950 and 1960. The intense informal urban growth of the outskirts started during this period, namely beyond the ring road, in the quarters of Xipamanine, São José, Chamanculo, Munhuana, Tlhambane and Mavalane. The traditional types of rural house decreased in the face of more solid construction techniques; itinerant agriculture slowly vanished; new demands for secondary and tertiary centres emerged, resulting in a more stable settlement of the population.
The last Plano Diretor (Guiding Plan) of urbanization during the colonial period, was drawn up in 1967. It was developed within the framework of the Urbanism Department of the Town Hall of the city, under the supervision of engineer Mário de Azevedo. Around 1970, the Mozambican capital was clearly organized along three central main axes, the long straight avenues heading roughly to the northwest/southeast: of República (present day 25 de Setembro), 24 de Julho and of Pinheiro Chagas (present day Eduardo Mondlane); two others, northward, complementary and parallel to those mentioned above, organized the new quarters being developed between the 1950s and 1970s: Avenues Massano de Amorim (present day Mao Tse Tung) and Nossa Senhora de Fátima (present day Kenneth Kaunda). Crossing them perpendicularly in the southwest/northeast direction, from downtown were Avenues Augusto de Castilho/Elias Garcia (present day Vladimir Lenine) and Manuel de Arriaga (present day Karl Marx).
New quarters emerged in the city or existing ones were developed: Sommerchield (1950s-1960s, southern section; 1970s, northern section), COOP (in the 1970s) and Maxaquene, for the middle classes; Alto- Maé, more associated with the population of Indian roots. Lourenço Marques/Maputo, like Luanda, obtained in 1968 the special designation that had already been granted to Lisbon and Porto, the so-called status of great city. The Guiding Plan proved to be a flexible and an orientating instrument for the structuring of the urban land use, not only until the independence of the country but also after its declaration in 1975. The first Structural Plan in the post-independence period was drawn up in 1985.
Maputo now features a varied built cluster in the formal area, displaying several kinds of modernism that were developed along a regular pattern of 60 km of tree-lined roads. Nonetheless, this area is a small part of a dichotomous urban ensemble, in which about two thirds of the population are scattered through a peripheral region of an unplanned nature. According to the work compiled by the Inter-sectorial Working Group on the Seminário Nacional de Estratégias de Desenvolvimento Urbano e Habitacional (National Seminary of Strategies for Urban and Residential Development), held between the 23rd and the 26th November 1992, until 1980 only 27% of the urban population had access to the basic infra- structures and about 75% of urban houses were “informal”.
Reserving the most notable buildings in Maputo for special sections, let us consider, in global terms, how architecture evolved in the city from the late 19th century until independence. During the first stage, prior to the 1920s-1930s, the most important constructions in the city had metal frameworks, both in mixed constructions and those of brick and iron. Typical examples of the time are: the Customs House of 1877; the Hospital of 1879-1880 (plan by engineer João António Ferreira Maia), enlarged in 1889, the new Hospital Dona Amélia/Miguel Bombarda started in 1904; the new Town Hall (from c. 1914); the Public Works building and the church of 1888. Other important buildings for the operation of the new urban community were: the house at Ponta Vermelha for local government of 1889; the Post Office of 1899, the identical building of the Finances, and the Municipal Market of 1901-1903. In terms of transport, it is worth mentioning the Port Captaincy, near the port, in “colonial Dutch style, imported from South Africa”, an imposing two-storey work in masonry and iron dating from 1899-1900, and, on a downtown square the monumental Central Railway Station, of 1908-1910. Among urban hotels, with iron galleries surrounding the main volume, are the Hotel Carlton, at Araújo Street, with three floors of verandas and the Hotel Club, started in 1898. The same epoch was also marked by revivals, or by late-romantic historicism, stylistic tendencies which can be found in the Mosque, connected to the important Muslim community in the city, rebuilt in 1887, and enlarged in 1902; the centrally located Pott Building from 1891-1904; the Police Sta- tion, from 1914; and the Bank Nacional Ultramarino, with a design somewhere between Eclecticism and Art Nouveau, also from 1914. The Theatre Varietá, property of an Italian settler, followed a neo-Renaissance style. Neo-Manueline, as a nationalist revival, was shown on the loggia of the Vasco da Gama/Tunduru Garden, dating from 1924, and the Álvaro de Castro Museum, a late example, from 1931.
The so-called “architecture of reinforced concrete” and subsequent Modernism in the Art Deco style flourished during the transition period of the 1920s-1930s. Worth mentioning are: the Masonic Palace, later the Primeiro de Maio Industrial School, the Nautical Society (present day Naval Club), with a design between Art Nouveau and Art Deco; and the Tea Pavilion, a typical concrete architecture of verandas and consoles. We may add to this list the Hotel Polana, of 1922, of Anglo-Saxon influence and along classical lines. From the 1930s onwards architectural production in Maputo was marked, in broad terms, by the emergence of a more radical modernist architecture, according to a nearly anonymous production that summed up, with a slight delay, the themes successful in Portugal; and a bolder and experimental production that deepened, sometimes more freely than it was then possible in the place of origin, the innovative tendencies from international architecture, experimenting with varied materials and taking into account figurative expressions that were alien to the mainstream culture.
We must also mention starting in the 1940s, the works along neo-traditional lines with more conservative themes, favoured by the Estado Novo regime which dominated the 1940s and 1950s. Typical examples are the Town Hall, inaugurated in 1947, the Cathedral, from1944, the former Salazar High School (present day Josina Machel) from 1952, as well as the broad cluster of public buildings, set on a down República/25 de Setembro Avenue, near the sea, with their rows of arcades and colonnades, which the Estado Novo used to locally establish its authoritarian and retrograde notion of public architecture (the “Centro Cívico”, from 1955, partially built). From the same period, but more interesting as urban architectures, are the Central Telefónica Automática de Lourenço Marques (from around 1946-1948), with a tower at the corner, and the monumental building/seat of Rádio Clube de Moçambique (1948), next to the Telephone Station, with a façade with a screen like a brise-soleil and a prismatic tower. Concerning hotels, it is worth mentioning the Hotel Girassol, of an original cylindrical body, and Hotel Cardoso, rebuilt in 1938 – both panoramic, set upon the hill line on the platform of the city over the bay and the Indian Ocean. Downtown is notable for the building of the Statistics Office, a modernist work with an entrance through the central cylindrical body in concrete and glass from 1936, by architect António Rosas, enlarged in 1947 by Francisco Assis (at 7 de Março Square, now demolished); the Rubi Building, with a prismatic tower of vertical glazed stripes at the corner; the Cafe Scalla, also cinema; and the building of the Coimbra House, at República/25 de Setembro Avenue, with a central, turreted body, made of glass, and symmetrical verandas. The Gil Vicente Theatre, which had been burnt to the ground in 1931, was rebuilt with an Art Deco façade in 1933 (project by José Ferreira da Costa).
The works of so-called Modern Architecture of international influence and with an abstract spatial and volumetric style, were gradually consolidated throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In terms of public works we must mention the buildings along transitional lines such as António Enes High School (present day Francisco Manyanga by Lucínio Cruz and Eurico Pinto Lopes, from 1956-1961), or the more recent block of the Hospital Miguel Bombarda, with a new main entrance (by Luiz de Vasconcellos and Francisco Assis, from 1958). The Bank Nacional Ultramarino (present day Bank of Mozambique), a project from 1956-1965 at 25 de Setembro Avenue (formerly República Avenue), is definitely the most notable work of consolidation of modern urbanism–more institutionalized in its programme but still powerful in the urban and spatial result. The present day Cine Charlot (1963) and the building of high volumetry, following the Hospital (present day Ministry of Health) are two other examples of this kind of modern architecture, which have deeply marked the urban landscape of the city. It is also worth mentioning the Church of Saint Anthony of Polana, unusual and innovative in its round design, and the new Gago Coutinho Airport, a successor to a former air terminal, of the modernist epoch (inaugurated in 1962).
Besides to these examples that place the architecture of Maputo within global movements, we also have to consider works more marked by personal styles, and which give character to the most recent stage of Mozambican art. The most notable authors are architects Pancho Guedes and João José Tinoco. The first (b. 1925), original in his symbolic, formalist, or expressionist language, built more commonplace works, but of a clear graphic/chromatic aim and feeling, such as the Abreu, Santos e Rocha Building, of 1954-1956, near the railway station, or the Hotel Tamariz, built for Ebrahim Mohamed (in 1954), in the downtown. He also designed more innovative residential buildings, resting upon pilotis, such as the Leão Que Ri (1956-1958), and the Prometheus block (1951-1953). It was, nonetheless, through buildings of curvilinear shapes and bodies, such as Saipal Bakery (1952-1954), at the quarter of Alto-Maé, that his heterodox and inventive talent was marked.
João José Tinoco (1924-1983) is notable for large-scale building programs, such as the Tuberculosis Hospital, at Machava (in the vicinity of Maputo) in collaboration with architect Alberto Soeiro; and the present day Ministry of Agriculture of Mozambique, on a large square at the entrance to the city (partially destroyed by fire). Around the Mozambican capital, Tinoco also designed private works: some of an industrial character (the Clock Factory A Reguladora de Moçambique, with an interesting modulation into distinct bodies, of a regular triangular profile; the Commercial Emporium of Mozambique (Entreposto), with António Veloso, of 1970); others for banking purposes (the agency of the former Bank Nacional Ultramarino, at the quarter of Maxaquene, with a remarkable ceramic piece by António Quadros on the façade under the roofed gallery; the Bank of Crédito Comercial e Industrial – BCCI, a tower of a characteristic vertical silhouette, of 1972, only concluded several decades later, as the Bank Comercial de Moçambique was) – and other recreational buildings (such as the cluster of Cinema Dicca and Estúdio 222 in downtown, dating from 1967). Monuments and Statuary There are several commemorative works worthy of note, included in the urban context. The marker/monument, at MacMahon/Trabalhadores Square, opposite the railway station, built by the Comissão dos Padrões da Grande Guerra (Great War Memorial Commission) and commemorating the “Military Effort of Portugal in the War of East Africa”, with the Portuguese inscription ‘To the heroic European and African Soldiers of the Great War.’ It consists of a qualified Art Deco work which is still standing, unlike many other monuments, removed after the independence of 1975. Inaugurated in 1935, it was designed by Rui Gameiro (sculptor) and Veloso Reis Camelo (architect). Unusual among its kind is the monument-ossuary at the Cemetery of Saint Francis Xavier, the “Mansão dos que se Bateram pela Pátria – Terra, Ar e Mar – 1916-1918” (‘Mansion of those who fought for their homeland – on Land, Air and Sea’). The monument to Mouzinho de Albuquerque, in front of the Town Hall, of 1934-1940, in terms of its size, was the most outstanding in the city, with a sculpture by Simões de Almeida and podium by architect António do Couto (it was moved to the fortress at 7 de Março Square). In 1939 a marker by architect Abel Pascoal was inaugurated in front of the Vasco da Gama Garden, commemorative of Carmona presidential visit. It is also worth mentioning works in public buildings, such as: the artworks in the Town Hall (statues at the entrance, by Simões Sobrinho, 1947); those of the Cathedral (by Francisco Franco, António Lino, Simões de Almeida, Leopoldo de Almeida and A. M. Ribeiro, from 1936- 1944); and those of the so-called Radio Palace by António Duarte (bronze panels), José Mergulhão (mural decorations), and Tossan (stained glass windows of the studio-chapel). Finally, the later Monument in praise of Prince Henry the Navigator (a copy of a monument placed in several colonial capitals), celebrating the “Fifth Centenary of the Death of Prince Henry”, located on the square opposite the Natural History Museum, from 1960.

Religious Architecture

Military Architecture


Equipment and Infrastructures