Eiffel and the New Art School, ISAC

The office of Madame Alda Costa, who is the leader of the group that is forming ISAC, the arts academy here in Maputo is in Casa de Ferro (de, do or di, depending on the reference). The building houses some of the offices of the Ministry of Culture and Education. I walk the three minutes from my apartment in the a block designed by the Mozambican architect Pancho Guedes to her office when we are planning and conferring. The Casa de Ferro is a very interesting building designed by Gustave Eiffel and is a kit building in the fashion that Bucky Fuller wanted to develop in his prefab heyday. It was probably shipped here and bolted together (I have not bothered to ask its history). The Google blurb says: “Casa do Ferro was constructed 1892 by the famous French architect Gustave Eiffel. The whole building is made of steel and was dedicated to the Portuguese governor. Due to the subtropical climate in which the building is heated to extreme tempertures nobody had ever lived in it.”

I think it very appropriate that the new Arts and Design Academy is being created in this building, it has a cultural spirit, while also being prefab. It refers to history and is quick build. It is transportable and light but looks like out of heavy stone masonry. There are references to the classics in Europe and the technology that has been developed here in the colonies, of fast production and spontaneous adaption. The building has nothing to do with the African culture here and one wonders how it will be for ISAC and the designers that will  be educated here to deal with their own culture in the prominence of global design culture and mass production. The Casa de Ferro is a symbol of such struggle.

August 17, 2009   Posted in: DESIGN, ISAC - KHiO, PONDERINGS