“The Pombaline style was a Portuguese architectural style of the 18th century, named after Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 1st Marquês de Pombal who was instrumental in reconstructing Lisbon after the earthquake of 1755. Pombal supervised the plans drawn up by the military engineers Manuel da Maia, Eugénio dos Santos and Elias Sebastian Pope (later succeeded by Carlos Mardel). The new city (mostly the Baixa area now called Baixa Pombalina) was laid out on a grid plan with roads and pavements fixed at 40ft wide. The previously standing royal palace was replaced with the Praça do Comércio which along with square Rossio defines the limits of the new city. Maia and Santos also outlined the form of the facades that were to line the streets, conceived on a hierarchical scheme whereby detail and size were delineated by the importance of the street. These were in a notably restrained neoclassical style partly the result of limited funds and the urgency of building but also thanks to the enlightenment concept of architectural rationality adhered to by Pombal. A standardized system of decoration was applied both inside and out with a distinctively reduced application of azulejo tiling.”
“It’s an intelligent architecture, proposing the first anti-seismic system and the first pre-manufactured method in the world for construction on a large scale. Its a flexible wooden structure implanted on the walls, floors and roofs, later covered by pre-manufactured building materials, which “shakes but doesn’t fall”. Lisbon’s downtown, called Baixa, the most affected area, is built over unstable ground, and it is necessary to reinforce the whole area. Another anti-seismic system was needed, made with a real forest of buried poles. Because they are exposed to salty water, there is no danger of rotting, for the reason that it keeps the wood’s natural elasticity. A city is protected, for the first time in the world, with such a big-scale revolutionary method.”
“The Pombaline building is a structure with up to four floors, with arcades on the ground floor to allow for shops, balconies on the first floor and attic. All buildings follow the same typology. The small decorative details in the façade depend on the significance of the place. The buildings are isolated by walls, to stop possible fires from spreading, and respect the maximum dimensions imposed – four floors were the ideal size to prevent further disaster.”
More on the anti-seismic system below:
“You can see examples of earthquake-proof wall structures called caging in some shops around the city, such as JANS Concept in Bairro Alto (characterised by a flexible wooden frame that resembles an asterisk set within the wall structure), and the domed ceilings in places like the RIB restaurant in Praça do Comércio (the food is good here by the way). Most buildings also have fire walls between them.”
“The building process was considered ingenious at the time too, as wall structures were pre-manufactured off site.”
“Another clever element of anti-seismic design was implemented underground. Wooden poles were driven into the riverbed to reinforce the city, given Lisbon’s downtown area ‘floats’ over water.”
Excerpts and photos from:
More photos of and characteristics of Pombaline architecture.
Exploring the criteria for being a UNESCO site.
“Justification of Outstanding Universal Value….”
Click link for in depth info about this characteristic.
“The city that had been created influenced the construction of many new cities in Africa, Asia, Oceania and America, some of which have already been designated World Heritage Sites.”
“The Lisboa Pombalina served as the powerbase for both the monarchy and, later, the Republic. It was Lisbon’s reception area and stateroom, the centre of political representation, the hub of revolutions, the place where monarchs, dignitaries, invading troops and those going out to attack embarked and disembarked, and a venue for military parades, the welcoming of heroes, peaceful or violent political protests, regicides and the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic, as well as a source of poetical and literary inspiration for the Portuguese and foreigners alike.”
excerpt from UNESCO source
We at The Living Abroad Guide think that the above two excerpts sum it up nicely. Click on any of the links in the passage for the full literature and to catch some of the smaller aspects we did not highlight.(TLAG)