If you have reasons to have one, hope your hangover is gone (or in the process).
We are starting the new year with a Modern building, for a change – the Court of Ovar, finished in 1966, by Architect Januário Godinho. Orthodox modernists use words such as “complex” and “controversial” to describe his work and resort to taking photos from afar, exalting the routine “promenade architecturale” and its Corbusian connotations.
We instead went to Ovar looking for vernacular buildings and azulejos, and were astounded by a large traditional composition with details from a different sort of French-speaker: Gilbert Poillerat and André Arbus came immediately to mind with their stylized, classically designed ironwork.
There is this story that Modernists tell of the main Lisbon post office being a Modern building in essence, forced to bear small volutes atop each window to receive the Dictatorship’s sanction.
Here we feel like the exact opposite happened: a building which is Classical at heart, with inventive detailing and only a few modernist touches here and there (like the sculptural “checkered window” hyphen between the two main buildings). There are no center-occupied voids. All is symmetrical and balanced, with pleasing proportions. Elements are punctuated – the Italian loggia has 5 bays plus one more, with double columns, to receive the stairs; the silhouetted balusters are capped with a ball which ties them to the rail. Everything is designed, nothing is left to chance, and most of it serves no immediate purpose other than to delight – to which effect the colored marbles, azulejos and copper dome greatly contribute.