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University of Porto Famous Alumni

Celestino de Castro

Fotografia de Celestino de Castro Celestino de Castro

Celestino Joaquim de Abreu Castro was born on 21 June 1920 in the parish of Paranhos, in Porto. He was the son of Baltazar da Silva Castro, an architect and the Director of National Monuments, and of Mariana Amélia de Abreu Castro, a primary teacher.

In Porto, he studied in the primary school next to the School of Basic Education Teachers and later went to high school. In 1937, he sat the exams for the Porto School of Fine Arts.

In 1940, having completed the 3rd year of the special course at the Porto School of Fine Arts, he transferred to the Lisbon School of Fine Arts for family reasons, where he completed the course in the academic year 1943-1944.

Fotografia do Prof. Cristino da SilvaFollowing his academic training, he trained with Professor Cristino da Silva at the Directorate General for Buildings, in Lisbon, a department of the Ministry of Public Works, between 1944 and 1947.

During this decade, Celestino participated in the General Exhibitions of Plastic Arts of the National Society of Fine Arts (1946/); he joined a group of architects from Lisbon who were visiting Porto on business (1947); he also worked with the 1st National Congress of Architecture and the 1st Congress of the International Association of Architects, in Lausanne (1948). The full translation of the "Athens Charter", a joint project with Castro Rodrigues (1948), was published in the magazine "Architecture". This document was essential for the new generations of architects.

Logotipo do Jornal AvanteIn 1951, he worked at the Colonization Board, and in 1953 joined the Portuguese Communist Party, influenced by José Dias Coelho.

In the summer of 1955, he was a member of Team 6 involved in the "Survey on Popular Architecture in Portugal", in which he worked with architects Artur Pires Martins and Fernando Torres, helping to prepare the final model version of the book, published in 1961.

From the end of the 1950s to the early 1960s, he organized, along with Manuel Barreira, the "Travelling Exhibition of Contemporary Portuguese Architecture", for the Smithsonian Institution, as the delegate of the Union to the National Secretariat of Information; he also worked in the Urban Planning Department at the Almada City Council (1958/1960) and in the Technical Housing Department of the Lisbon City Council (1960/1962).

His membership in the Communist Party forced him to go underground in August 1963 and later into exile, in 1965. During these hard times lived in Paris, he worked in the offices of architects Lucien Billard and André Mahé and André Laborie, as well as in the "Service des Bâtiments et Jardins du Sénat" [building and garden services of the Senate].

He returned to Portugal in 1974, on the same plane as Álvaro Cunhal, to participate in the 1st May celebrations.

In March of the following year, he was admitted to the civil service, first in the Local Support Office – Housing of the Lisbon City Council, and later in the Directorate for Health Facilities and Equipment, where he remained until June 1990.

In 1976, he helped convert the National Union of Architects into the Association of Portuguese Architects, in which he participated actively until its 3rd Congress.

He retired in 1990 and began to work on the "Avante!" project. In 2003, he became an Honorary Member of the Association of Portuguese Architects, along with other colleagues, such as Fernando Távora.

Moradia na Rua Santos Pousada, PortoSome of his most important architecture works are, for example, the José Braga house, in Santos Pousada Street, Porto (1950/1951), the Amial house, Porto (a 1949 project built in 1950-1952), which has lost much of its identity, and the Cytology Department at the Santo António Hospital (1989), also in Porto; and the housing complexes in E.U.A. Avenue, in Lisboa, in cooperation with Huertas Lobo, João Simões, Hernâni Gandra and Francisco Castro Rodrigues.

Celestino de Castro died in August 2007. The funeral mass took place in Campo Grande Church, in Lisbon, and he was cremated on the 15th at the Olivais Cemetery.

He was a top Portuguese modern architect, loyal to his principles; he was imprisoned, visited Paris, Moscow and Washington, never wore a tie and his shirt always had the top button done up.

The collections from his workshop, which he had donated to the Portuguese Communist Party, are now the property of the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Porto, which is responsible for its study and preservation.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2010)

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