Collective housing

Collective housing

Goa [Velha Goa/Old Goa], Goa, India


The construction of collective housing in the Estado da Índia was limited to a few examples of low-cost houses and houses for civil servants, mainly built during the last two decades of Portuguese rule.

Standing out among those proj ects is the low-cost housing for employees of the Estado da Índia Police (pei), as they were a more cohesive group.

These low-cost housing projects were built jointly by the government of the Estado da Índia and the Montepio pei Association, with most put up in 1959 and 1960. The Montepio Associations comprised groups of professionals, normally but not always civil servants, who via dues or other payments assured a pension or other kind of assistance for themselves and their families, for example in case of the respective member's disability or death.

Most of these projects comprise a single-storey block with from six to nine dwellings, as in Ponda (1960), Mapusa (1960), Sanguem (1961), Bicholim, Valpoi and Canacona (1959-1960). In Vasco da Gama there are 18 dwellings divided into two blocks, as in Margao, although there the respective proj ect has three blocks, one with two floors, organised around a courtyard next to the railway line. A plaque in the Panaji neighbourhood project indicates that the respective housing complex was due to the efforts of the then commander J. Pinto Braz.

Their architecture has common features which can be easily identified when passing through the territory. They are elementary structures where efforts were made to optimise use of space and resources both inside and out. The actual designer is not known, but all were conceived in the Studies and Works Office.

The projects in Diu (see entry) stand out for their architectural quality, as do those in Panaji, where the complex was the biggest, especially notable for the carefully planned layout.

The Panaji project is located on the western slope of Altinho, toward Saint Agnes, on ground donated by the church. It comprises a total of seven blocks arranged in the form of an amphitheatre facing the mouth of the Mandovi River and the sea. In the centre is a courtyard with a small chapel dedicated to Saint Francis Xavier, who also lent his name to the neighbourhood.

The buildings were put up in two phases, the first inaugurated on 2 January 1960 and the second on 20 November of that same year. In all, six one-story buildings with six residences each were built, as well as one two-storey block.

The one-storey blocks are simple rectangular volumes with a gable roof, most raised off the ground, with a base structure resolving the different levels. The main façade has a full- length veranda containing the houses' main entrances. In back a small common space runs the length of the volume, with a wall resolving the different ground levels. This space is used as a common service area, containing numerous additions. In the northern block the main façade uses a quadrangular grille recalling the project in Diu. The two-storey block is divided into two distinct volumes set in the steeply sloping ground. It is more compact than the other blocks, with access galleries closed by grilles used to protect the household entrances. Even though there is very little dwelling space, in some blocks certain houses were later split in two.