Good bones: Maputo apartments

 

Maputo has many of these small apartments blocks, mostly built in the ’60’s and ’70’s. The typology is representative of a very specific way of thinking about urban living, where medium density is encouraged in buildings of 3-4 storeys in height, with a relatively narrow façade. This is then repeated in a row of say four buildings, each with a separate entrance but abutting each other, so as to create a continuous streetscape. The “segmentation”of what could be a single, long apartment block (as is sometimes seen in Berlin), not only allows for visual identity markers (such as colour variation, individual entrance gates), but also encourages a sense of propriety and belonging, since the building has the scale of a very large house, and each entrance only gives access to a limited number of apartments. There are bigger scale variations to this, with taller buildings – for example, in Alto Maé, along Av.24 de Julho – but the principle is the same.
Recently, I was standing in front of this one in Av. Maguiguana. I had some time to kill, and so tried to capture another characteristic aspect: The façade elements and their articulation, which plays on a concrete frame structure, from which certain elements are projected, recessed or hung. The horizontal (width) proportion also appears to be 60/40, something curiously harmonious for this 4-storey height (click on images to enlarge).
In spite of the relative state of disrepair of these buildings, their good bones shine through.

 

 

About Maria GC Aragão

Architect, Quality Systems Controller. Founder and Principal of A OFICINA - Design e Arquitetura, E.I., a micro design and architecture studio based in Maputo that executes projects and idea-things. I practice at the intersection between meaning, aesthetics and commerce. As an external examiner of university student work, I look to architecture as an act of translation. I am currently furthering my knowledge in M&E and Quality Management in order to integrate multidisciplinary teams and benefit others through transfer of skills learnt in the building industry.

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