Neighbourhood Of The Montepio Police Association Of The Estado Da Índia
Diu, Guzerate, India
In the last years of the Estado da Índia’s existence there was some concern about improving the domestic conditions of the less-well-off populations. Two examples of the resulting projects survive in Diu.
The Neighbourhood of the Montepio Police Association of the Estado da Índia is located very close to the city’s old Franciscan Convent. In the territorial context its features indicate a modernist architecture marked by the metrics, repetition and rhythm of an abstract façade grille met longitudinally by an overhanging gallery and with two elegant staircases at the ends, set apart from the gables.
This neighbourhood is at least formally counted among various low-cost housing projects for civil servants, like the São Francisco Xavier neighbourhood in Panaji, where one of the blocks also uses square grilles on its main façade, though more modestly. The whole complex is marked by repeated modules (flats), which associate and overlap to form two floors in units with paired grillwork, thus leaving similar-sized empty spaces in groups that mark the entrances.
The typology and architectural expression are very coherent and seek to optimally use the interior space. Privacy between neighbours is resolved unusually in the private exterior space behind the grilles. This space is accessed by gallery on the upper floor and from the side in the set-back ground floor passage. Inside the flat, the organisation of common space reduces circulation space to a minimum and the house’s intimacy is protected by a subtle transition wall between the space for receiving, eating and living. The water area is in back, where the small kitchen is accompanied by a small laundry and bathing area; the toilet is separate.
This neighbourhood is an exemplary experience in the context of the housing projects designed and built
in the 20th century in territories of Portuguese influence, due to its ability to adjust the principles of international modernism to the local climate, the demanding programmatic and economic requirements and the fundamental aspects of local culture. It is a high quality project characterised by strict compliance with its social function and by the cultural universalism of architectural expression.