"O Leão Que Ri" Residential Building

"O Leão Que Ri" Residential Building

Maputo [Lourenço Marques], Maputo, Mozambique


On the Smiling Lion (1954-1958), his most famous building, Amâncio d'Alpoim Miranda Guedes (1925-2015) combines his desire to create an African modernity together with surrealism, expressionism, a sculptural ambition and his ability to turn dreams and visions into space. It’s a residential building, with horizontal distribution in the back gallery with three apartments per floor, suspended from the ground and transformed through sculptural modeling. This essential work from Stiloguedes was presented by the author at the Bienal de São Paulo in 1961.

Located in a residential area on the Kwame Nkrumah and Salvador Allende avenues corner, the building consists of 6 apartments on an open ground floor to the city, where were located six parking spaces. The seven pilotis are founded on seven carved bases with about 1.20 height covered with limestone mosaic.

On the 1st and 2nd floors 6 apartments are located, whose main facade is Northwest oriented, while the vertical access and horizontal circulation gallery are located on the Southeast facade. The vertical accesses are doubled on the gallery ends, Northeast end the service staircase that goes up to the 3rd floor protected by walls where curved surfaces are carved, and on the Southwset facade the main open staircase that links to the second floor and connects the two wide balconies. The 3rd floor is limited by two long murals hiding the terraces and access to the open domestic workers booths with toilets and showers, washing tanks and clotheslines. The coverage is defined by six domes closed on the murals. The mural resembles the Tonelli building (1957-1968), and the sculptural design of the side walls upper top, refers to African combs, and the Prometheus building (1951-1953).

The main facade is composed of three sets of double balconies limited by structural plans organizing the apartment interior. These sculptural walls touch the carved pilotis bases through an expressionist design.

The building owes its designation to the lion at the entrance on a concrete cube, the author states that it was carved by himself and by Gonçalves, an African mason from Inhambane.

Today, the ground floor is partially closed with commercial areas and garages, and the balconies on the main facade were closed with fences.


Ana Tostões, Daniela Arnaut

(Referência FCT: PTDC/AUR-AQI/103229/2008)