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Historical Context


The public secondary school network as it is today consists of a total of 477 schools, the construction of which began in the late 19th century. Of this total, 23% were built by the end of the 1960s. The remainder (77%) originated in the period of expansion of the school network and extension of compulsory schooling first to seven and later to nine years. Some 46% of the schools were built in the 1980s.
As a whole, the schools constitute a heterogeneous network, both in terms of their typological/morphological conditions and their architectural and building quality. Although mostly made up of standardised solutions, resulting from the application of standard projects and mass construction techniques, the network includes buildings of a certain heritage value as well as others in which innovative solutions in spatial and building technique terms were experimented.
Based on the time of construction, one can divide the schools into three periods or phases: 1) up to 1935; 2) from 1935 to 1968; and 3) from 1968 until the present.
This classification enables us to associate the respective functional programmes, architectural models and building processes to the construction period and to support a typified characterisation of the current situation (diagnosis) as well as the interventions required.

 

 

1st Construction Period: up to 1935
 
This group is made up of 12 schools (2%). It includes the first grammar schools planned from the ground up in Portugal after the Passos Manuel reform of 1836 and built until the late 1920s, as well as those built or completed in the context of the work carried out by the Administrative Board for the Loan for Secondary Education (JAEES), which was set up in 1928 and terminated in 1934.
In addition to the obvious historical and symbolic factor, some of these schools are valuable in heritage terms on account of their architectural design and are reference works of Portuguese architecture in the early 20th century.

The schools in this group are located in the cities of Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Beja and Lamego. They are situated in very central sites in these cities and on large-sized plots. In formal terms, they evolved from the model of the single compact building with enclosed courtyard model that derived from the old monastic colleges, as is the case for the Passos Manuel school, to a more extended layout occupying part or the whole of an urban block, and including one or more courtyards, following the French Lycée model.
Stylistically speaking, the group ranges from eclectic inspiration influenced by the Parisian Beaux Arts, although with a strong decorative sobriety, to Art Deco-influenced geometric taste and to the affirmation of a more Modernist language, with volumes defined by smooth surfaces and flat roofs and full use of the sculptural potential of reinforced concrete.

The functional programme of these schools reflects the reform of 1905 and is based on the project for the regulation of school building of 1909. It includes a wide range of teaching spaces: in addition to the normal classrooms, these schools have specific spaces such as a library, auditorium/projection theatre, laboratories for chemistry, physics, geography and the natural sciences and areas for physical education. In terms of the functional organisation, one can highlight the central position given to the school administration area and to the library, which also serves as the room for official acts, giving it a certain status of respectability. The remaining teaching areas are decentralised. They are located along the wings, where, for safety reasons, the laboratories are always at the extreme ends. It is also common for them to be detached from the main building.
In terms of construction methods, the buildings are solid and robust, progressing from traditional building technologies – to which were added, in individual cases, innovative elements from the period such as metal structures, steel beams, cast iron columns and concrete flooring – to mixed building methods with self-supporting walls combined with porticoed structures, concrete slab floors and terraced roofs.
 
Examples:
Liceu Passos Manuel

Liceu Camões

 
2nd Construction Period: 1936 to 1968
 
This group is made up of 94 schools (21% of the total school network) built by the Ministry of Public Works through the Technical and Secondary Education Construction Board (JCETS-MOP). They were designed for grammar school and/or technical education. The phase began with thirteen schools built under the New Grammar School Building, Extension and Improvement Plan, launched in 1938.

The schools were primarily built in district capitals, in easily accessible areas and on large-sized plots that, as a rule, coincided with the whole urban block. The buildings reveal a high degree of uniformity in terms of form and construction methods due to the adoption of standardisation strategies in the architectural programmes (standard grammar school programme in 1938 and standard technical school programme in 1947-50), designs, applied building methods and architectural language.
In formal terms they feature linear configurations made up of various bodies linked together that are normally two or three storeys high, in some cases four storeys. In the case of industrial technical schools the workshops were often located in independent bodies. These solutions were adapted to the local circumstances and the morphology of the respective sites.
In stylistic terms, the Modernist language was shunned and an official idiom of the Estado Novo was adopted that relied heavily on the reinstatement/reinvention of certain elements of traditional Portuguese architecture. Sloping roofs were brought back, as well as a strong compositional austerity, which was accentuated by the opaque façades and a distinct lack of decorative detail. Only the main façades featured isolated decorative details in stone masonry, usually around the entrance. This formal rigidity was softened somewhat from the late 1950s onwards, when the buildings took on a lighter and more transparent aspect resulting from the use of large glass surfaces and the lack of masonry work.
In functional terms the “liceus” or grammar schools were organised from a central main body, called the academic body, which also contain the school administration offices next to the main entrance, with direct access from the outside and independent of the other areas. The teaching spaces were organised per cycle in wings, with independent accesses from the main entrance. The playgrounds, covered or open air, the drawing rooms and sanitary installations were located next to the 1st cycle classrooms. The laboratories were located at the extreme ends of the 2nd and 3rd cycle wings. The library and staff rooms were located centrally. Another body with two storeys was linked to this body housing the canteen, the Mocidade Portuguesa (Portuguese Youth) room and the gym/assembly hall and respective support spaces, also accessible from the outside.
The “technical schools” followed a similar organisation. The workshop, changing rooms and students’ toilet spaces were located in a second body and the main body consisted of three or four floors.
In terms of building methods, mixed technologies were used – bearing walls of plastered ordinary stone masonry supporting reinforced concrete floors and staircases. In some cases the floors were also made up of pre-stressed concrete beans and ceramic blocks, with the beams perpendicular to the exterior walls. Wooden roof structures were used and it was normal to use an inverted concrete beam to which the roof underlayer was also connected.
In terms of finishings and claddings, wood dominated (solid wood flooring or parquet) on the classroom floors and hydraulic tiles in the corridors. The walls were finished with mortar or plaster. The corridors and stairs were given hydraulic tile panelling. The window frames were in wood or pre-fabricated reinforced concrete elements with single glazing. The workshop block was normally a reinforced concrete structure that frequently was given a sloping, shed-like roof that was covered in ceramic tiles or undulated fibre cement sheeting.
 
Examples:
Liceu Gil Vicente

Escola Industrial Marquês de Pombal

 
3rd Construction Period: from 1968 to today
 
This largest group (356 schools or 77% of the school network) is made up of school buildings from the late 1960s onwards under the shared responsibility of the Ministry of Education, in the form of the Directorate General for School Equipment, and the Ministry of Public Works, in the form of the Directorate General for School Building.

From 1986 onwards, following publication of the Education System Basic Law (Law no. 46/86 of 14 October), the Ministry of Education took over exclusive responsibility for school building, delegating the executive competencies to the Regional Education Directorates. The accumulated knowledge on standardised projects derived from previous programmes was transferred to the regional directorates, which continued to apply the same design projects to new schools.
In the late 1960s a small group of standard designs was developed for grammar/secondary schools, technical schools and preparatory schools, based on highly practical solutions that would enable both rapid and economical executions. The buildings are devoid of ornamentation.
These standard designs are structured on the basis of a set of autonomous blocks, allowing for adaptation to very diverse, and even unknown, characteristics in terms of topography, solar exposure and transport accessibility. The various blocks were connected by covered exterior passageways, the layout of which depended on the morphology of the site. This flexibility in adapting to diverse terrains made it possible to work cohesively on the interior spaces, as the blocks were on different elevation levels, thus achieving a more complete adaptation to the terrain.
These solutions were reproduced around the country with individual adjustments depending on the size of the school. The climatic differences in the country were not taken into account.
The “grammar school” type consisted of a one-storey block containing the administration/secretariat, canteen, library and a social room and two types of classroom blocks, one rectangular in plan with two storeys and a central covered patio and another irregular in plan with two storeys and a central stairwell. The former housed the laboratories; the latter housed the normal and drawing classrooms.
The “technical school” type consisted of a two-storey block housing the administration, secretariat, canteen, library and multipurpose hall and classroom and workshop blocks with three storeys in an irregular layout with a central patio covered with a skylight. The upper floors were reached by two lateral stairwells that connected to circulation passageways.
The “preparatory school” type featured a block of one and a half storeys housing the school administration, secretariat, canteen, library and multipurpose hall and single-storey classroom blocks, quadrangular in plan and featuring a central open-air patio. The internal circulation was made through the teaching spaces. In the 1980s new standard designs were developed on the basis of the above designs, which maintained the pavilion-based structure and external interconnection through passageways. The blocks, variable in size, featured two storeys in a square layout. The staircase was located in the central atrium, topped by a roof lantern. No external distinction was made between the administration block and the classroom blocks.

In terms of building methods/technologies, these are modular buildings with reinforced concrete porticoed structures with floors in the same material and brickwork walls that were plastered and painted, with exposed concrete elements. The roofs are either flat and not accessible or sloped with a roof lantern and covered with asbestos cement sheeting cladding. Window frames are made of wood or in aluminium with single glazing.
 
Examples:
Escola Secundária Gabriel Pereira

Escola Secundária Pedro Alexandrino