Demolition Threat: Richard Wall House
by João Andresen, Porto, Portugal, 1958-1960
docomomo International painfully realizes that the Richard Wall House, in Oporto (Portugal), designed by the recognized architect João Andresen, is under threat, in this moment, after has been decided to pursue with its demolition.
The Richard Wall House, designed and built between 1958 and 1960, in the area of Foz do Douro (Oporto), located at Rua do Padrão nº418, represents a unique example of the architectural legacy developed in Portugal by the architect João Andresen. The house adopts “a more organic formal approach regarding the built mass adaptation to the terrain (…) and the fluid articulation of the interior spaces (…) which connect to each other in close relation with the outer space.”1
It is a faithful example of the work left by the architect João Andresen and the architectural assumptions by which it was guided. Through a clear sensibility in respect to the landscape, the context and the value of the place, the house denounces “a skilful commitment (…) of the architect to combine both (…) traditional elements and experiences of great modernity, following the importance of the Modern Movement models”2. This way, the “drawing of the architectural volumes, characterized by an essential purity sense”3 comes into dialogue with the proper house development on the ground and the traditional materials reinterpretation, with the use of local resources such as slate, granite, wood and textured mortar.
Being an important Modern Movement project in Portugal, demolishing the Richard Wall House would mean destroying one of the most significant proposals of modern housing, designed with great formal clarity, intelligence and innovation as a way to respond to housing demands through an architecture affirmed in its quality and social responsibility. It will be a great loss to erase an outstanding example of Portuguese architecture with historic interest.
For that reason, docomomo International is aware of the concern that the present risk of demolition can produce in architectural and conservation cycles. docomomo International would like to express its fully support to the conducted efforts being carried on with the intention of preventing this irreversible demolition, interceding to protect the invaluable construction for posterity and for future generations. We have a duty to preserve the original principals of this house and maintain its legacy within the international world of architecture, urbanism and landscape.
1, 2, 3 - Ana Tostões, Os Verdes Anos na Arquitectura Portuguesa dos Anos 50, Porto: FAUP Publicações, 1997