Marble and Marble's Twin Brother, at Home and in Colonial Brazil
Faculty of Architecture-TU Lisbon /CIAUD, Lisbon, Portugal
From the outset of colonization, Portugal used the process of pre-fabrication and ballast transportation of stone to help build quickly and efficiently in remote settings. Fortresses, churches and public buildings were the recipient of this undertaking. Marble and lioz, its twin brother of the Lisbon region, were the main sorts of stone involved. In Africa, in Asia and mostly in Brazil, stone buildings were the exception: the incorporation of petreous material imported from Portugal was mainly the action of royalty, religious orders or public authorities. In these buildings the capacity of the material to shine brightly, to be carved and polished, to convey religious or power significance, meant that they naturally incorporated sculptural traits. However, most of the stone used was not marble, but the lesser precious but still very appreciated and valuable lioz, Robert Smith's ‘pseudo-marble'. Conversely, at home, at the heart of the marble region in Alentejo, everyday and domestic built parts used marble in a matter of fact and ever-increasing way up to the last century, when it was used to cover pedestrian pavements in Estremoz. The erudite pseudo-marble abroad coexists with naļve true marble at home. Economics and power relations are at the heart of these functionalities. The paper puts forward the divergence between the building and sculptural export accomplishment, up to the 18th century homogenizing townscapes across the Atlantic, and the multi-scalar handling of a proximity resource, used both in palatial buildings and in day-to-day functions, such as the urban floor one steps on to go about one's business. These baroque and vernacular creations in the specific luminosity of Bahia, Lisbon and Alentejo are unexpectedly beautiful. The beauty of the petreous white surfaces, cut, fashioned and transported in arduous toil is a side-effect of the inclement nature of the stony land.