CHAIR: Mafalda Pacheco


  • Beatriz Serrazina | Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra

At the turn of the twentieth century, private companies stood out as crucial agents of European colonialism in Africa. The need to explore and occupy the hinterland, where the colonial power was very scarce, and the rush to exploit raw materials, which was one of the underlying reasons for the ‘Scramble’, led industrial enterprises to settle throughout the continent. Despite being created under strong nationalist purposes, most companies had a significant transcolonial genesis – their remote location being a clear symptom of powerful crossborder connections. Rooted on a system of interlocking directorates, a large group of corporations laid down another map of Africa, away from political boundaries. Such industrial landscapes were the result of a strong interplay between teams of international employees, transimperial experts and local communities. Most circulations became paramount not only to plan and manage extractive sites, but also to shape broader architectural protocols on building Empires, thus shedding light on urban planning and cross-fertilized expertise as key tools to consolidate power. This paper explores how knowledge produced in and about space at mining sites evolved and travelled across Empires over time, while looking at empirical experiences acquired on the ground. The Angola Diamond Company (Diamang), operating in the north-eastern border of the former Portuguese colony, was one of these crossroads where multiple agents and ideas interacted. It will be used as a lens to address the impact of such flows on neighbouring regions as well as their entanglements with local Colonial Public Works departments and planning practices. Diving into the polyhedral nature of these networks, the paper questions the still dominant state-centred frameworks of analysis that fail to disclose the strength of other circuits of knowledge production as important scaffolds of Empires.

Beatriz Serrazina is PhD student at the Centre for Social Studies of University of Coimbra. Her research explores the role played by Diamang, a former mining company, in production of urban norms and forms, covering  transnational connections and practices of colonization in Angola. MA in Architecture (Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon, 2016). Current research interests focus on colonial architecture, architectural and planning history, colonial and post-colonial heritage, circulation of knowledge. Research fellow in the project “ArchWar: Dominance and mass-violence through Housing and Architecture during colonial wars. The Portuguese case” (ISCTE-IUL).



  • Karolyna de Paula Koppke | Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (PROARQ/UFRJ) / Ibmec RJ

The paper intends to bring together systems for training professionals in the field of architecture in two locations in Iberian America in the long 19th century: Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. In these capitals – places of transit of knowledge – were installed the two first teaching institutions of architecture in the subcontinent: in Mexico City, the origins of the ‘Academía de San Carlos’ go back to 1781; in Rio, the ‘Academia Imperial de Belas Artes’ is inaugurated in 1826. The fact is, however, that these initiatives were accompanied by other ones, linked to the field of military engineering. In New Spain, the first project for the establishment of a military academy dates back to 1777, but the undertaking was only consolidated in 1792, with the foundation of the ‘Colegio de Minería’. In Rio de Janeiro, military education was established between 1698 and 1699, linked to the ‘Aulas de Arquitetura Militar’ distributed throughout the Portuguese empire. This proposal integrates a broader research, which intends to investigate the continuities between these different training systems through the study of biographies of professionals who circulated between the two fields. For this moment, however, a chronological strategy is useful, allowing us to organize the different temporalities of the aforementioned institutions. It is hoped, with this effort, to contribute to the advancement of studies on the history of nineteenth-century architecture in Latin America. This period has been traditionally underprivileged, in historiography, in favor of the colonial and modern times, and also pre-Columbian, specifically in the case of Mexico. In addition, crossing Brazilian borders and establishing interchanges with its Hispanic neighbors is urgent, given the similarities that characterize their trajectories, being possible, simultaneously, to deepen the understanding of the particular cases.

Karolyna de Paula Koppke is a doctoral student in Architecture (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro) and an Assistant Professor of the Architecture and Urban Planning undergraduate course at Ibmec RJ. She is an Architect and Urban Planner (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, 2011), specialist in History of Art and Architecture in Brazil (Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, 2014), and holds a Master’s degree in Built Environment and Sustainable Heritage (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 2017). She works with Cultural Heritage Preservation and History of Architecture, City and Arts.



  • Ludovica Cappelletti | Politecnico di Milano, Italy

This paper proposes the case study of the Regio Istituto Tecnico Superiore di Milano and its relationship with the political and cultural landscape of the Kingdom of Italy at the end of the nineteenth century. This structure, later known as Politecnico di Milano, was established in 1863 as an institution for the dissemination of technical and scientific culture, and the first school of specialised learning for engineers and architects in Italy. The newly formed Italian Kingdom already aimed to expand its territories, starting colonial campaigns that will peak in the twentieth century. In this changing political landscape, the founder of the Politecnico, Francesco Brioschi (1824-1897), saw this structure of learning as an instrument for the modernisation of Italy in its relation to European empires. The Politecnico was founded on the example of existing polytechnical schools, such as the one of Zurich, and devised to educate qualified actors of innovation: architects and engineers were provided with the skills to tackle the multifaceted needs of modern industrial technology and the social progress of the nation, and to shape its built environment. It also fostered the exchange of competencies at an international level, promoting educational trips, engaging European technical schools, and creating networks of collaboration that could provide new expertise. Individual agents played an integral role in establishing interactions with communities of knowledge and practices across Europe and beyond: by promoting entrepreneurships, professors and students blurred the boundaries between theoretical sphere and production, creating trading zones that enriched the learning environment and transformed it in a laboratory of research and innovation. By analysing the Politecnico and its individual agents, this paper wishes to explore what prompted the shift from an imperial academic system founded in 1776, to the creation of a technical-scientific institution for the dissemination of knowledge, that would ultimately become a central actor in the Kingdom of Italy at the turn of the century.

Ludovica Cappelletti (1989) holds a PhD from Politecnico di Milano (2018); she has been a vising student at the Warburg Institute in London, and has held Post-Doc Fellowships from Politecnico di Milano, Mantova Campus UNESCO Chair in Architectural Preservation and Planning for World Heritage Cities and the Study Centre and Communication Archive in Parma. At present, she focuses her research on the dissemination of knowledge in architecture and engineering in Milan in the nineteenth and twentieth century, examining the role of technical-scientific institutions in shaping art, science, and culture; she is also working in a team of curators of the permanent exhibition space of the Politecnico di Milano.


Back to the programme