Administration Palace (current Seat of the Provincial Government)

Administration Palace (current Seat of the Provincial Government)

Lichinga [Vila Cabral], Niassa, Mozambique

Equipment and Infrastructures

The current headquarters of Niassa Provincial Government, former Vila Cabral Palace of Public Offices (1959-1962), currently Lichinga, designed by João José Tinoco (1924-1983) and Maria Carlota Quintanilha (1923 - ), is part of the administrative equipment set built in the late colonization of Mozambique from the late '50s, resulting from the Development Plans.

The program of the palaces of public offices, built in Mozambique during the third quarter of the twentieth century, considered administrative services facilities divided between private work areas and public service areas, as well as the district government headquarters, considering its required institutional expression.

 The city of Lichinga, former Vila Cabral, is a city started from scratch in the '30s, with the urgent aim of creating the new administrative capital of Niassa province, and is located on a plateau at 1400 meters altitude inside northern Mozambique. The design plan of the central and institutional area of the city arises based on the ideas of Governor João B. Casqueiro defining an octagon enrolled in a 440 meter radius circle.

The Vila Cabral Palace of Public Offices is an answer to a call for tenders launched by the Projects and Construction Services Main Board in 1959. Was inaugurated around 1962 and is placed in one of the plot slices between the circular Liberados Square and the limit of the octagon, a plot with five sides inserted in radiocentric and centralized plan of the city.

 The Palace is composed by two rectangular volumes with different orientations, dimensions and uses, integrated into a landscaped area and articulated by a trapezoidal path, covered by a horizontal slab and supported by pilotis. The larger volume, with about 60 meters long and 17 meters wide, is positioned in the center of the lot parallel to north and south boundaries of the plot.  

                In this volume with 3 floors are placed the administrative services and areas for the public. The ground floor is partially empty to the West, and on the North and south facades are designed horizontal openings. The 1st and 2nd floor are defined by an irregular volume of six sides, cantilevered suspended along the North and South facades. The volume is topped by a double cover comprising a flat slab and a "butterfly" roof with a longitudinal central gutter. The glazed facades oriented North and south are protected by exterior grids composed by prefabricated elements, while the West and East facades are opaque walls.

The internal organization is characterized by a modular repetition of spaces, where the ground floor offices open onto an interior hallway mixed access, while the two upper floors open for three longitudinal circulations: an internal central corridor reserved for employees and two side galleries open to the public, along the North South facades. Each office module, placed across the longitudinal circulations, faces the internal corridor and the public gallery. The three paths are intersected by a transversal hall that binds them together with the main entrances and stairways.

The smaller volume, corresponding to the noble state representation spaces, is a volume of about 32 meters long and 11 meters wide, and is deployed facing the roundabout that shapes the Liberados Square, in an oblique position to the larger volume. The smaller volume, which façade approximates a trapezium, consists of a suspended floor on a totally empty ground floor punctuated by two alignments of rearward pilotis. The vertical access to Niassa District Government spaces, as the session’s room, the secretariat, the governor and inspectors offices, is done through an articulated hall with a path and a spiral staircase on the empty ground floor framed by a water mirror. The Northwest and Southeast facades are fully closed, and on the Southwest facade are defined specific openings, the largest protected by a brise soleil of vertical blades. The Northeast main facade is characterized by a deep balcony with a glazed background, intended for political speeches.

The Vila Cabral Palace of Public Offices clearly reflects the influence of Le Corbusier models and its tropical adaptation in a clear reference to Brazilian modern architecture, from the volumes based on pilotis, the trapezoidal walls, coverage in "butterfly wing", to the autonomy of the structure.


Original by Elisário Miranda.

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

Adaptation by Ana Tostões and Daniela Arnaut.