“This is a most impressive dissertation on a subject of enormous importance for future developments in architecture and ways of living, especially at this time of recession and of a new and increasing concern with the environment and sustainability, problems of global warming and of reliance on fossil fuels, destruction of natural biodiversity, corals, rainforests, and a range of species. In such a context, this dissertation makes a remarkable contribution to the task of recreating a better way of life and of building.
José Baganha has create, l what must be one of the most complete records of regional architecture and urban planning, methods of construction, use of local materials, relation of vernacular buildings to landscape and to ways of life and work. Among the numerous superb illustrations are sketches and photographs, plans and sections, by the author, ranging from distant views of towns such as Monsaraz and Mértola to decorative details like the sgraffito ornament at Évora. His beautiful photograph of the Praça do Giraldo at Évora with its low arcade and great fountain shows more than any words what we need to preserve and recreate.
Considering in his dissertation the damage done to these towns and villages from the 1960s, José Baganha modestly expresses the 'hope that it can be an operating manual for all those intending to intervene in the villages, towns, and cities of the Alentejo. In fact, with his numerous wise recommendations ranging from planning and building to the importance of kitchen gardens and orchards, his dissertation will be a source of inspiration far beyond this region of Portugal.
Ph.D, Litt.D, Hon. FRIBA, FSA
Emeritus Professor of the History of Architecture