Beira, Sofala, Mozambique
Equipment and Infrastructures
Located in Mozambique, the iconic ensemble of Beira Railway Station (1958-1966), designed by Paulo de Melo Sampaio (1926-1968), João Garizo do Carmo (1917-1974) and Francisco José de Castro (1923- ) is the inaugural work of intense iconographic expression, highlighting the apogee of cosmopolitan modernity of the city of Beira, and witnessing its strategic importance on the flow of goods and passengers in to the center of the sub-Saharan continent of Africa linked to the Beira port through "Beira corridor".
The railway station is the largest public work undertaken in the city of Beira. It comes up with the development and infrastructure constructions held since the mid-1950s, encouraged by the implementation of the Development Plans. Located in an area provided by the Urban Plan of Beira (1943-1951), is placed on the right bank of Chiveve River, at the North of downtown area, and defines the Northeast front of the former Manuel António de Sousa Square, named today as Caminhos de Ferro Square.
In 1958, the Administration of the Railways requests a technical meeting to the architect of municipal services, Bernardino Ramalhete (1921- ), with the aim of establishing a team to develop the design of the station. Therefore, is suggested the establishment of a team with the main architects living in Beira. The general plan of the station is designed by the three architects, where three functional areas are defined corresponding to different volumes: the station, designed by João Garizo do Carmo, the railways terminals by Francisco Castro, and the office building and coordination and supervision of the works by Paulo Melo Sampaio. The structural design is developed by the engineer Marcelo Moreno Ferreira.
The station consists of a vaulted mass, asymmetrically juxtaposed to the office block, that generates a grandiose station welcoming space, with 55.40 meters long and 25.40 meters wide, formed by 7 parabolic arches. The entrance is marked by a horizontal slab suspended by steel cables embedded in the frames. The large lobby of the station is uneven regarding the Square level and is accessed by two ramps designed symmetrically. On the Northwest end of this space is drawn the "suspended" box of the station snack-bar.
The office block is a large parallelepiped of 78.40 meters long and 16.50 meters wide, with 8 floors on pilotis, whose shape is defined, as mentioned by Ana Magalhães, by “overlapping “boxes”, […] creating long openings between floors." In response to sun protection, Paulo Melo Sampaio draws an adjustable vertical brise-soleil system, creating a façade that metamorphoses throughout the day and according to the needs of users.
The railway terminals are formed by cantilevered slabs punctuated by central pillars. On the Southeast boundary of the plot is located a support and maintenance “wall-building", whose coverage is drawn from a concrete system of 27 vaults.
The connection between the three volumes is designed through an open slab in the center, forming a courtyard.
The unity and the composition balance of Beira Railway Station is guaranteed by the scale of the three volumes, and accentuated by the use glazed ceramic coating constituting the identity of this ensemble, including the lining of the Station pavement that extends over the office building, and the murals in the main façade of the Station, designed by Jorge Garizo do Carmo (1927-), or in José Pádua (1934 - ) sculpture existing in the courtyard between the station and the waiting room.
The project is an exemplar interpretation of the international language in the postwar period, a mature work in the context of modern architecture in Mozambique, and a synthesis of the each architects path.
The station is in reasonable conservation state.
Original by Ana Magalhães and Elisiário Miranda.
Adaptation by Ana Tostões and Daniela Arnaut.