FOR THE BLACK OF THE SOIL AND FOR THE WHITE OF THE WALL

SOPHIA DE MELLO BREYNER ANDRESEN




There is a beauty given to us: beauty of the sea, the light, the mountains,

animals, movements and people.


But there is also another beauty that man has a duty to create: by

the black side of the soil is the man who builds the white wall where the

light and the sky are drawn.


Beauty is not a luxury for aesthetes, it is not an ornament of life, a

useless ornament, a whim. Beauty is a necessity, a principle

of education and joy.


St. Tomás de Aquino says that beauty is the splendor of truth. Through the

quality and degree of beauty of the work we have built will be known if yes

or we don't live with truth and dignity. Man's work is always a

mirror where consciousness is recognized.


When we look around us the villages, towns and cities of Portugal

we have to note that almost everything that was built in the last few

decades is ugly. Ugly and - alas! - to last. Ugly the

public works and ugly the private works. Exceptions to the rule of

ugliness are rare.


It is often said that our poverty is the source of our ills. But

what characterizes much of our architecture of this time is the

new-richness. A new exhibitionistic richness - almost always without

functionality and always without culture and without sensitivity.


This is especially sad when we compare the present with the

past: in fact looking at the old stone and lime manor houses we see that

our architecture was able to create nobility without wealth. Hence the purity and

the dignity of so many old houses.


Now it is clearly not a matter of copying the past: architecture

it is an art and art is creation and not imitation. To continue is not to imitate

and imitating is always to offend and betray what is imitated. But is

necessary that there is that awareness of the past and the present to

that we call culture. We are an old country. We are told that we are one

poor country. It is strange that these coordinates result in a

new rich architecture.


The construction of the modern city brings problems difficult to solve:

problems of space and circulation. But among us these problems only

exist in Lisbon and Porto. In the rest of the country the problems are almost

only problems of humanity, common sense, and good taste or

be it problems of morals, intelligence and sensitivity and

culture.


The rule to follow is this: a home for everyone and beauty for everyone. And the

beauty is not expensive. It is generally less expensive than the ugliness that

it is almost always called luxury, monumentalism, pretension. Beauty is

simplicity, truth, proportion. Things that depend much more on the

culture and dignity than money.


I think at this moment especially in the land of the Algarve, with its

beaches, its caves, its promontories, its white walls, its light

very clear. It is necessary not to destroy these things. It is necessary that

that will be built does not destroy what exists.


Art is always the expression of a relationship between man and the world that

surrounds him. Architecture is specifically the expression of a relationship

fair to the landscape and the social world. Outside these coordinates

there is only bad architecture.


It is said that it is necessary to develop the Algarve touristically. For

that we will have to build. But it is necessary that those who go

to build love the space, the light and the others.


There are all the conditions for creating a good

architecture in algarve: there we have a landscape and a light that

ask for "architecture", there we find a beautiful and traditional use of

clay and lime; there we have a smooth and pure local architecture as a

modern architecture, a popular architecture whose themes

architect can develop in a more technical and more cultured way:

there we have a climate that makes life easier and proposes solutions

of extreme simplicity.


There we can have the materials, the innovations, the technique and the culture

of our time. There, can work the competent architects that

exist in our country.


But it is urgent to avoid the following dangers:


- Incompetence


- Saloism (gauche)


- Speculation with land


- The bad architects


- False traditionalism


- The craze for luxury and pomp


- The facade works


Above all, it is necessary to avoid the lack of love. From all arts

architecture is both the most abstract and the most connected to

life. Those who doesn't love neither space, nor shadow, nor light, nor

cement, nor stone, nor lime, nor the others, will not be able to create

good architecture.




(Free translation by us, from the published in January 1963, at nº 21 of the "Távola Redonda")

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