Lubango [Sá da Bandeira]

Lat: -14.919533021794000, Long: 13.489519018551000

Lubango [Sá da Bandeira]

Huíla, Angola

Historical Background and Urbanism

The municipality of Huíla, created in 1850 by the marquis of Sá da Bandeira, was subject of several attempts at colonization and settlement, almost all unsuccessful, including one by the Boers in 1881. On the 17th January 1883 Huíla region was elevated to a municipality and on the 2nd February 1901 to a district. The capital, Lubango (Sá da Bandeira), concentrated settlers that came from Madeira and Porto Santo islands after 1885, serving as an advanced post for the axis of northern encroachment and as a barrier to Boer and German penetration into the region of Cunene. The colony of Sá da Bandeira was the first structure to give way to the future city. In 1889 it was elevated to town status and then to city on the 31st March 1923, the year the railway reached the plateau and city. It bore that name until 1978, following Angola’s independence, when it changed its name to Lubango. In the 1930s-1940s Henrique Galvão still saw it as being under development: “For the time being, three rambling streets alongst which one can hardly fail to react to the defects of the improvised and primitive facilities [...] all the rest has a special charm: the surrounding scenery above all, and an air as fine as that of Sintra”.
There are some traces of the incorporation of the insular traditions of the colonists in the urban and surrounding landscape, certainly, due to the roots of the settlers – the case of the monument to Christ The King at the top of the nearby mountain as in Madeira; in toponymy there is a Garden of Nossa Senhora do Monte, with a long staircase (similar to Monte Quarter in Funchal outskirts). The Fundadores Square planted with trees and containing the cathedral marks the heart of the city as it can be seen in the photo from the 1960s. The initial core of the city was established according to an orthogonal layout, consisting of roughly quadrangular blocks, 100 metres long. There was an initial plan of “three streets in an east/west direction, 550 metres long, and six aligned to the north/ south, stretching along 300 metres; all 15 metres wide”. Apart from the surroundings of the Central Square (Praça Central), in which, judging by the buildings that survived from that period, there was a higher construction density and an occupation of basically all the fronts of blocks, the remaining settlement developed according to a rural-kind of occupation. Each block was divided into ten plots, each aimed at housing a couple. The size of the plots, with an approximate average size of 1,000 square metres, made it possible, besides residential use, for other activities of a rural nature to be carried on. The rural appearance of the centre was preserved until the second half of the 20th century, when a large part of the land between Mucufi and Mapunda was occupied and the pace of growth began to justify a higher densification of space and the emergence of residential quarters on the nearest periphery. An urbanization plan for Lubango by the architect João António Aguiar of the Gabinete de Urbanização Colonial (Colonial Urbanization Office) was elaborated in 1947, marked by a change in the spatial model used up to then and the transposition of the geographical boundaries set by the rivers Mucufi and Mapunda. The plan included the identification of the nature of the structure of the small sized city, with a perfectly defined perimeter, as well as its connection to the railway and with links to other cities. Among the purposes of the plan were the organization of the existing layout and control of the excessive sprawl towards the west, which can be seen in the urban physiognomy of the time and the promotion of its expansion southwards. The urban park and the sports facilities began to serve as a border to the southwest, beyond the limit of the railway line. The city was divided at the centre by a small watercourse in the east/west direction. Nonetheless, the pre-existing core was located northward of this watercourse and structured according to a grid that covered the old constructions, also organized in a grid pattern, marking the longitudinality of layout. At the west top and at the edge of this grid and crossing it, emerged a square which, due to its scale and proportion, resembles more an avenue or boulevard (given its centrality and size), landscaped and flanked by buildings, mainly residential and commercial as well as those clearly of public interest (Post Office, Government Palace, Bank of Angola, Public Works Building). Only a small part of this plan was effectively carried out and much remained to be done such as the urban ring road and the conclusion of the quarters of expansion. In the 1960s, the Regulation Plan, drawn up at the Town Hall which, in terms of references, followed the above plan, strengthened its recommendations about the city expansion and the corresponding zoning. There is also mention of a third plan based on the urbanization plan which already included the presentation of an urban project, reinforcing the expansion of the city beyond the watercourse and establishing criteria for the structural connecting roads, creating a hierarchical road network. Post-independence growth, with the mass influx of population into the city, profoundly changed the urban physiognomy, which continues to depend nonetheless on the former infrastructure network, now clearly overloaded and insufficient. Monuments and Statuary The monument to João de Almeida is the tribute of the city to the explorer of the region. It was designed by the architect José Frederico Ludovice; the monument to Sá da Bandeira by the architect Luís Taquelim is also noteworthy for the expressivity conveyed by the use of reinforced concrete; also the marker erected in 1885 to the first colonisers from Madeira.

Religious Architecture

Equipment and Infrastructures