The 18th c. renovation of the then Faculty of Philosophy in Coimbra is attributed to William Elsden, an Englishman who was under the good graces of the Marquis of Pombal. He was responsible for designing new facades, a Hospital, Anatomy theater, a Department of Experimental Physics and the Natural History Museum. We don’t know where his work begins or ends; there were buildings already here since the Middle Ages who were presumably severely altered, and there are many things which suggest 19th or 20th c. alterations, such as encaustic tile flooring throughout and the wonderful steel windows in this cloister.
Speaking of which – we can only dream of doing this today, but they do represent an elegant solution to the problem of enclosing a cloister for modern uses: the thin steel muntins contrast beautifully with the heavy stone moldings, and the grid brings them to scale. Modern and harmonious – it’s not that difficult.
Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra