BArch 1953 (University of the Witwatersrand); DSc, (Honoris Causa) 1998 (Pretoria)
Born in Lisbon, schooled on the islands of Principe and Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as Manjacaze, southern Mozambique. He received his initial university education (Bachelor of Architectural Studies, 1949) at the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) and awarded the Bachelor of Architecture (1953) by the Escolas das Belas Artes (Porto, Portugal). In 1950 he set up private practice in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique) until the Portuguese revolution in 1975 when Mozambique was granted independence. Since 1950 he practices in both Johannesburg (South Africa) and Lisbon (Portugal) where he has set up home since retirement. He was appointed to the Chair of Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1975 (a position he held until 1988, retaining the professorship up to 1990). He has been Professor at the Universidade Lusofona, Lisbon (1995 –1997) and Profesor Assoçiado Convidado, (1990 –1993) Universidade Luziade (Lisbon, Portugal). He serves as Professor Catedratico (from 1997) in the Department of Architecture of the Universidadade Moderna (Lisbon, Portugal). In 1998 he was awarded an honorary doctorate, DSc, (Honoris Causa) in architecture by the University of Pretoria (South Africa). During his career he has been an esteemed member of the Institute of South African Architects (from 1953 to the present, now the South African Institute of Architects), having served on various professional committees. Since 1986 he has been a member of the Associação dos Arquitectos Portuguesas. He was married (1949-200?) to Dorothy (nee Philips) and has four children (Pedro, Veronica, Freddo and Katherine).
Pancho GUEDES’ work is representative of the direction of plastic expressionism that certain Moderns were to take. In 1954 he associated himself with the protagonists of the Congrès Internationaux dArchitecture Moderne (CIAM) who were to become Team 10 (1956), of which he was a member. His built oeuvre comprises in excess of sixty projects, ranging in scale from that of domestic through to institutional commissions, coming from both private and public clientele. His corpus of designs demonstrates an architecture which responds to locally available technology and skills. While finding its roots in modernism, the styling is tempered by sculptural tradition of Iberian baroque. His work could be viewed as giving continuity to the Art Nouveau legacy of Gaudi in Modern guise. His southern African ouevre can be considered part of the ‘Little Brazil’ tradition. This term derived from Pevsner’s observation that Johannesburg was a ‘little Brazil’, an appellation now extended to all architecture of southern African of the 1950s & 60s which reflects the influence of Brazil Builds (1943). He, through his Portuguese heritage, could readily empathize with the precedent. In his virtuosity in the use of concrete as plastic material in the hands of unskilled labour he explores the organic forms of indigenous construction. GUEDES thus made an important contribution to the patrimony of Mozambique and the southern African sub-continent.
Besides being a proven architect and urban designer, GUEDES is a talented sculptor and painter, his friendship with the Dadaist, Tristan Tzara proving influential. His ability as woodworker reflects as the material of choice for architectural models and sculptures being wood. In its most personal forms, his architecture is self-referential. Plan-forms inform painted images, paintings inform sculptures, sculptures inform building forms, and all inform the narrative which is the substance of his writings, lectures, and illustrated talks. This autobiographical quality reflects a fecund mind with the scope of artistic talents for expression. His paintings, sculptures and architectural drawings have been exhibited internationally, and of these works now form part of diverse public collections, for example that of the Rhodes National Gallery (Harare, Zimbabwe), the Galeria Comicos (Lisbon, Portugal) as well as private collections in Europe, the United States and southern Africa. The architecture of GUEDES has received international exposure and wide acclaim, having featured in important exhibitions and international professional publications.
His writings in both English and Portuguese exceed seventy articles. He has traveled extensively, to countries as afar as India and Brazil, and delivered talks in most of the countries he has visited. He has also lectured at overseas institutions such as the Technical University of Lisbon and the Escola Superior de Belas Artes (Lisbon, Portugal), UCLA (Los Angeles, USA), Haifa Teknikon (Israel), and the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia).
As academic Professor GUEDES has left an indelible mark and achieved an enduring legacy. His tenure in the Chair of Architecture, University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) was decisive in bringing academic esteem and international renown to that institution and its staff and architectural graduates. His dynamic impetus to the culture of learning and creative architectural design persists there into the present. His wider contribution to academe in South Africa has been through his visiting lectureships to the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Natal and Pretoria. He has served on numerous panels of assessors for competitions, most recently for the Legislature Building for the Northern Cape Province in Kimberley (South Africa, 1998), and Awards of Merit panels of the Institute of South African Architects.
[Roger C FISHER and Gus GERNEKE]
Pancho GUEDES has designed many private residences and apartments, omitted from this list.
1953 Prometheus Apartments, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1954 Saipal Bakery, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1956 Smiling Lion Apartments, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1961 Service Station, Komatipoort (South Africa)
1964 Sagrada Familia Church, Machava (Mozambique)
1965 Church of St James the Great, Nyamandhlovo (Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe)
1965 Enfermmagen School, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1966 Church of Santa Ana da Munhuana, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1967 Police Widows and Orphans Savings Bank Building Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1967 College of Nossa Senhora da Conceicão, Inhambane (Mozambique)
1968 San Jose de Llanguene Convent, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1969 The Clandestine Nursery School, Canico, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1969 Congregational Church, Choupal (Mozambique)
1971 (with Pedro Guedes) Church of the Twelve Apostles, Gala Massala, Maputo (Mozambique)
1972 Waterford School, Mbabane (Swaziland)
1974 Church of San Cipriano do Chamanculo, Lorenço Marques (now Maputo, Mozambique)
1974 Nurses’ Hostel, Chicumbane, Gaza (Mozambique)
Post Office School, Ihambane (Mozambique)
1975 Hotel and Farm School, Estevel, Boane (Mozambique)
1975 Tota Standard Building, Porto Alexandre (Angola)
1975 Regentes Agricolas School, Vila Pery (Mozambique)
Amancio GUEDES was the Sophia Gray Laureate in 1996.
Recipient of the Gold Medal Award from the South African Institute of Architects in 1980.
A film À Procura de Pancho (Looking for Pancho) was shot over ten days in the winter of 2010 in Maputo, Mozambique by a group of postgraduate students from the School of Architecture at the University of Cape Town and directed and edited by Christopher Bisset, a fifth year student. Click here to view. The best book written on Pancho is the Vitruvius Mozambicanus catalogue edited by Pedro Guedes, Pancho's son, of the CCB/Berardo exhibition in Portugal in 2009. The book is featured in the short film and is available from the Portuguese Consulate General Graça Gonçalves Pereira in Maputo.
The site Amancio Guedes is very interesting and besides a biographical essay has notes on his influences, buildings, sculptures and paintings – all with photographs. [Link tested 2015 11 10 and is not working at this time]
In 2010 an exhibition was held on Pancho Guedes at the Portuguese Consulate in Maputo, in conjunction with Pancho Guedes and his family, inaugurated by the Minister of Culture of Portugal. The exhibition was called "Pancho Guedes – the adventure of architecture, the defiance of formalism". A website has been created of the exhibition and you can click here to visit it. At the moment the site is in Portuguese but they are busy with an English version.
On the 2002 12 10 the University of the Witwatersrand conferred an honorary doctorate on Amacio d'Alpoim Miranda Guedes, (Pancho) which was followed by a two-day symposium and exhibition honouring his intellectual and personal influence.
Kindly supplied by Graça Gonçalves Pereira, General cônsul of Portugal in Maputo and Lonka Guedes, daughter of Pancho.
Pancho Guedes died peacefully on the morning of 7 November 2015, looking at a photograph of his beloved wife and holding his daughter's hand.
Link to an article in Portuguese Pancho Guedes, um arquitecto heterodoxo e desconcertante.
Letter to the members of SAIA: 12 November 2015
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Pancho Guedes. Peter Rich describes Pancho as, "The joyful genius who taught us so much." Mr Rich further added that Pancho was able to inspire people to engage with their own creativity, a great gift to those who interacted with him.
The South African Institute of Architects salutes this great man and the legacy he leaves. We also send heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, peers, students and indeed all whose lives he touched.
Chief Executive Officer, The South African Institute of Architects
PANCHO GUEDES: IN MEMORIUM
Pancho Guedes, the all encompassing and monumental genius has left us, left us in Peter Rich's words, "to dance with Dori," his beloved wife who left him to end his years without her, in the loving care of their daughters, Llonka and Kitty.
Though I cannot now add to the accolades given and tributes written to Pancho, one of the giants of 20th Century architecture, during his lifetime, I would like to record my own profound realisation on reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude, of the common roots of Spanish and Portuguese genius. I realized that El Greco, Velasquez, Goya, Lorca, Dali, Gaudi, the preposterous palaces of Sintra (shown to me by Pancho himself) Picasso, Roberto Burle Marx, among many others, formed the fantastical heritage on which Pancho's African Connection was founded.
To quote from an article in the New York Times by Robert Kiely on Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude,*1 "This is the language of a poet who knows the earth and does not fear it as the enemy of the dreamer." This could equally be said of Pancho who manifested his dreams through painting, sculpture and architecture and who could also capture and convey them in magical, sometimes satirical and always inspirational words.
From my own personal experience, as I wrote in ViVA PANCHO, *2 "...he reinforced my desire to honour history, to value the human over the mechanical, to underpin the sensual with the intellectual, to never lose sight of joy. He has given me courage to follow my intuition rather than my colleagues. He has shored up my determination to fight for beauty in the world – but above all, he has shown me what it is to be fully human" - kind and gentle but never losing sight of the jokes and ironies of Creation!
In Julian Cooke's beautiful poem in the same publication *3 he ends with "You scattered the grey land with strange bones and sparkled the sand with precious stones."
The Master Amancio d'Alpoim Miranda Guedes has left us. He has left us in a world where the voice of the poet is becoming harder and harder to hear but his words will still ring out and his work still inspire us and future generations in the making of an Architecture under the African sun.
And thus we salute you
ViVA PANCHO ViVA!
Mira Fassler Kamstra
- Memory and Prophesy; Illusion and Reality are made to look the same. by Robert Kiely New York Times March 8 1970.
- ViVA PANCHO published by TOTAL CAD ACADEMY p.8 A tribute by Mira Fassler Kamstra.
- ViVA PANCHO published by TOTAL CAD ACADEMY p.7 A tribute by Julian Cooke.
View the Saturday 14 November 2015 Order of Programme
Tribute by Hannah le Roux:
Pancho from the Architecture programme
speaking as the current director of the programme and someone who was lucky enough to have, somewhat unwittingly, been a student in the heart of the Pancho years
to begin I would like to thank Wits Art Museum for this space, for my Head of School Paul Jenkins for flowers and catering, and of course to the family and friends of Pancho d'Alpoim Guedes for sharing this event, as well as the teacher himself, with us, a public of students and architects
Like everyone today, I am sad that the time has come to pay my respects to a great teacher. But to keep this tight, I will frame this task by explaining some of the legacies of Pancho's tenure as Head of School. Through thoughful actions he created principles that we should try to hold to, even though the department of architecture as an autonomous entity has long been rationalised out of the university. These legacies are the trace of his profound awareness of relationality, of how connection to others is the real resource in a place of material scarcity.
the first legacy is that he catalysed a creative community. Pancho, and hence the students, saw the people he drew to the staff as co-creators. This kind of cluster is not something a University naturally does; on the contrary. And a creative community is not a stable thing, it comes with competition, coalitions, jealousies and insecurities. But it is great place to raise creative children.
another one: he learned from history and passed it on. Pancho said he was raised in a "poorhouse", the modernist school of the 1940's, but he was inspired by the generation just before him, of Martienssen, Hanson and Jonas, who had the vision to connect to colleagues in the international avant garde, to build young, and to proclaim their passion for the arts.
the next legacy is that he feminised the school and so doing, the profession. Pancho recognised multiple forms of creativity and was no gatekeeper against fresh approaches. Under his tenure, Mira Kamstra, Marilyn Martin, Minky Lidchi, Jenny Stadler, Sally Gaule, Lindsay Bremner, Marybeth MacTeague and Michelle van Deventer were welcomed into the teaching community. These phenomenally hard working women built the confidence of our generation, of Sarah Calburn, Kate Otten, Heather Dodd, Nina Cohen and Fiona Garson, the first generation of women to consistently and independently win awards for projects such as the space where we are today.
lastly, and perhaps most importantly, given our own historical moment of profound calls to change by students, and of bullets and bombs, he shared and transmitted his own personal resilience. The lessons learned from the profound reinventions necessary in his life, from South Africa to Mocambique, and back again, were embedded in the multiplicy that he created and provoked in the school. To put creativity first, to make space and community for it to flourish, is not a narcissistic end. It is survival. It is the way that we can imagine ourselves beyond this moment, in new relations and new worlds. Training, Pancho said, is what you do to dogs. What he invented was, profoundly, a creative education. We thank him for it.
Hannah le Roux, 14 November 2015
PANCHO GUEDES: A TRIBUTE DELIVERED AT HIS MEMORIAL SERVICE HELD AT WAM ON THE 14TH NOVEMBER 2015
Much has been said and written about Pancho's life and work. This has provoked admiration for his brilliant intellect and his architectural (artistic) genius.
Pancho was a genius and his talents are so multifaceted that in writing this tribute, I have had to limit myself to those attributes I know best: his extraordinary talents as an architect, artist, scholar and teacher. But Pancho and Dori were also my close friends. Accordingly I am able to add a personal note to a discussion about Pancho's life and work.
When I arrived at Wits, as a newly matriculated student and met Pancho for the first time, it was 1945. The Second World War was about to end. Wits was small, the number of students only a few thousand and the Faculty of Architecture, was housed in a few rooms in the Central Block.
My earliest recollection of Pancho was at a design crit. Pancho was clever, confident, talented, mature and, even then, erudite. He did not need to display his superiority in an ostentatious or precocious manner. He just was special and it showed.
Pancho's student work was functional and inspired by the International Style. Form and function were inextricably bound together. Even when form appeared to dominate and was exuberant, there was always a rational plan that afforded opportunities to experience wonderful, internal and external spaces. There was surprise in Pancho's work – surprise that something so unusual and complex could appear so simple, inevitable and offer its secrets so generously to anybody who cared to look. This remained true of his work in the years to come.
Pancho, even as a first year student, was quite extraordinary. He seemed, by reading prolifically, to have acquired knowledge well in advance of his years. From his very first day at Wits, he appeared to know more than anyone else, including our young lecturers, about every conceivable thing. For him, knowledge was not demonstrated by a prodigious memory, which he happened to have, but by an ability to absorb what was in books and the world around him – and make it his own.
Pancho's first year design (as I remember them) were technically competent, functional AND sculptural. Through his work he demonstrated the importance of buildings as objects to be experienced; that create and enclose space and are spiritually uplifting. This made architecture Art rather than mere structure, but he never denied the importance of technology and the human sciences as many architects do, who strive for iconic form.
In 1948, when we worked together in the office of Monte BRYER, we became friends and he invited me to meet his wife Dori. Pancho and Dori were living with Dori's parents at Norse Gold Mine, in Brakpan. Pedro was then a babe in arms.
We talked long and often about making architecture. He took me to see Denstone Court, since demolished to make way for the Carlton Centre. He admired this building by HANSON TOMKIN AND FINKELSTEIN. Pancho was the teacher and I the student, notwithstanding that he was only a year or two older than I.
It was as though he never had to learn HOW to be an architect. His architecture, and his architectural principles evolved naturally out of his art and his very being.
At this time (1948) Pancho was preoccupied with his painting. He was making portraits of Dori and Pedro in oil or acrylic paint and exploring still life and landscape painting. Le Corbusier and Fernand Leger were his favourite artists and he copied from books on the artist, the abstract paintings of Leger.
Even in 1948 Pancho was a prodigious reader and collector of books. The Vanguard Book Shop where Dori worked was where the best and latest books on art and architecture were to be found, in Johannesburg.
After 1948 I lost touch with Dori and Pancho until 1975 when he arrived at Wits to take up his appointment as Head of the Department.
I had, of course, seen pictures of the remarkable work he had done in Mozambique which demonstrated the principle that "Art is architecture – architecture is art".
The family was forced to flee because Pancho had fallen foul of the communist, post-colonial government, and their lives were under threat.
Pancho started work at Wits before his residence permit had come through. We all thought the permit would be a mere formality. We were convinced that the powers that be would recognise how valuable an asset Pancho would be to Wits and the country.
The shock came a few months later. Pancho's permit had been refused. It appeared that Pancho was listed as a public enemy in South Africa as well as his homeland.. His earlier left wing past in Mozambique had caught up with him, and he and the family, which included Kitty and Dori's mother, were in danger of being deported from South Africa.
Every person with any known political influence was approached to help get the refusal rescinded. It worked and we were all able to breathe a sigh of relief. Pancho could stay on at Wits.
Pancho, during his time as head of the Department elevated the ART of architecture to the forefront. Students were encouraged to seek within themselves the creative means with which to make Art rather than mere structures.
This was one of the messages that Pancho brought to Wits in 1975. Not everyone, staff or students subscribed to this, but the many who did were greatly enriched by the experience and by another distinguishing feature, namely Pancho's humanity.
Pancho cared about people and was, to many students and colleagues, a guardian or father-figure. He was able to discover and uncover qualities and talents in people, when others could not. In many instances students would not have stayed to complete the course but for his empathy and inspirational encouragement. Today most of those who Pancho helped are successful architects, doing their own creative thing, and are not pale reflections of the master. Perhaps this is the greatest tribute one can pay to a teacher.
Pancho was always available to help students but did not suffer lightly the pomposity and pretensions, all too evident in academic life. On occasions he felt the urge to deflate the egos of the Vice Chancellor and distinguished members of the university Senate, who did not appreciate his sarcasm and at times, barbed wit. The reaction of the recipients of his humour was not always conducive to good relations within the University.
Pancho's years at Wits were memorable ones. They were significant for those on the staff of the department who worked with him. They were also inspiring times for the students, many of whom became his devoted friends. Some of them are here to say farewell to a great architect who, by sharing his beliefs, knowledge, experience and humanity, enriched all who came into contact with him.
In honouring Pancho, we should also honour Dori, who died a few years ago. Pancho used to call Dori "Mamma" and in a way she was. Dori was Pancho's mentor and sounding board for ideas – his creative editor, and sometimes his severest critic. They made an unbeatable team.
We say farewell to Pancho with great sadness and fondness, but I take consolation in the fact that we shared valuable time together, working in the department; talking about architecture and related and personal things; laughing at the absurdities of life and shedding a few tears about this and that.
We mourn Pancho's death but I rejoice in having known him. I hope that Pedro, Llonka, Fredo, Kitty and Georgina, Pancho's granddaughter, will, if not now, in time, see the loss of Pancho as I do – not to regret his death but celebrate his life.
14 November 2014