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.

 

 

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About Maria GC Aragão

Architect, part-time lecturer, external examiner. I am interested in spaces of collective memory, the visual arts and architecture’s potential to enable change. I practice at the intersection between meaning, aesthetics and commerce. As an external examiner I look to architecture as an act of translation

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