Cultures: Portugal – Paulo Providência: Lar/Lár, understanding in order to translate


Date: 26.09.13

Time: 19:15

Venue: JM Synge Theatre, Arts Block, Trinity College Dublin


When I visited Ireland for the first time, twenty years ago, I noticed Dublin bus’s signage An Lár, meaning the City Centre. Lar, in Portuguese, means home, and its etymological origin is Lar or Lares (plural), a Latin word for the guardian gods of domestic life. In the North of Portugal, in rural areas, some housing still keeps the stone where fire used to be lit, and that stone is called precisely “stone of the Lar” – meaning “fire place” – and retains its archaic original form of an altar.

In Gaelic, I suppose, the word means ground, but also centre, and maybe place. So, in spite of the Gaelic word having an origin of its own, and the Portuguese word having an archaic Latin origin, we can still imagine a “common ground” in both languages for the word, which is: the centre of social life, the place where you feel at home.

The lecture will present some architectural work where the interpretation of cultural context is the main motive for architectural design, both in Portugal and abroad, and raises questions about the processes of architecture culture construct, identity and globalism.

Paulo Providência was born in Coimbra in 1962. Educated at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Porto,1989.  PhD,University of Coimbra, 2007.  Researcher at CES (Centre for Social Studies), University of Coimbra, Portugal.

His main professional work as an architect is concerned with programmatic responses related to specific contexts: the Laundry of S.Nicolau (Porto 1992), the Renovation of S. Salvador de Figueiredo Church (Braga 1996-98), the Workshops for the Teatro Nacional S. João (Porto 2001-04), or the Medical Healthcare Centre (Vila do Conde 2001-05), are some examples of this aim.

Beyond his activity as architect, he has written mainly about modernity. He’s the author of a study about hospital construction in XIXth century (A Cabana do Higienista, 2000), was co-editor of a guide on modern architecture in Porto (Porto 1901-2001, Guia de Arquitectura Moderna, 2001), as well as editor of a collection of theoretical writings by Georges Teyssot (Georges Teyssot Dateoria de arquitectura: doze ensaios, 2010). Recently he was guest-editor of “Crisscrossing Anthropology and Architecture” (Joelho #2, 2011) and “Teaching through Design” (Joelho #4, 2013), and published a book on the National Leprosy of Portugal (Leprosaria Nacional, Dafne, 2013).

He is Design Studio lecturer at the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra, Portugal, and has been invited as Guest Critic at UCD (Dublin), SAUL (Limerick) and ETH (Zurich).

Following the talk Paulo will be in conversation with Marcus Donaghy and Will Dimond of Donaghy Dimond Architects.

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