Architect and urban planner
Arménio Taveira Losa was born in Braga on 28 October 1908. He was the son of José Gonçalves Losa, a Republican and army officer, removed from the service after the 28 May 1926, and Maria Rosa Taveira Losa.
In 1925, he enrolled in the first year of the preparatory course so he could be admitted to the Porto School of Fine Arts to study Painting. Following the three year course, he enrolled in the Special Architecture Course in 1928, which he completed in 1931. He was then admitted to the School of Fine Arts and completed his studies in 1933 with the thesis entitled "General Construction Project ".
He passed his exams for the Architecture diploma in 1935 with the final mark of 17 out of 20, and got married in that same year to Ilse Lieblich, a Jewish German girl exiled in Porto, who dedicated herself to writing in Portuguese (she was the author of many books, especially children’s literature, and sent many articles to the media) and to translation (from and into German), and who was known by the name Ilse Losa.
In the following year, Arménio Losa requested the diploma in Architecture which was only granted in 1941.
During his academic years, he was taught by master Marques da Silva, with whom he worked, still as a student, and met Cassiano Barbosa (1911-1998), with whom he discussed modern art and built a successful and lasting professional relationship.
At the beginning of his professional activity, he worked with José Coelho Freitas and Aucíndio dos Santos.
In 1939, he joined the Consultancy Department for General Urban Planning of the Porto City Council and began to work with architect Cassiano Barbosa, a partnership he maintained until the 1960s, with a few interruptions. Both architects designed some of the most significant architectural works in Porto and neighbouring areas, solely for private clients (CUFP, José Soares, Ângelo Vieira Pinto, António Neves and Paulo Vallada) because his anti-regime political ideals kept them away from public works. Both architects taught many students of the ESBAP and architecture trainees, such as Adalberto Dias, Alcino Soutinho, António Serafim Machado, António Cândido Abreu e Lima, Rogério Barroca, Rogério Ramos, Renato Sampaio, Raul José Hestnes Ferreira, Augusto Amaral, Vasco Cunhas and Vasco Mendes.
In 1945, Carlos João Chambers Ramos (1897-1969), an Architecture teacher at the ESBAP, proposed that Losa be invited to join the teaching staff of this School to teach Urban Planning in the Architecture course. However, despite taking up office, he was not accepted due to unfavourable information given by the secret police.
Losa, a true admirer of the influential architect and urban planner Le Corbusier (1887-1965), always sought to keep up with the international advancements of the Modern Movement. In 1947, he joined the group of architects who founded the ODAM (Organization of Modern Architects) in Porto, a professional association that gathered modern architects from the north of Portugal and disseminated the ideals of the (International Congresses on Modern Architecture). In 1948, he participated in the 1st Congress of Portuguese Architects. In 1953, he visited Aix-en-Provence and on his return to Portugal, he participated in the 3rd Congress of the UIA (International Architects Association), held in Porto, where he delivered a paper on habitat, housing and urban planning.
Urban Planning was another of his areas of interest. As mentioned before, he was responsible for the first Urban Planning Department at the Porto City Council (1939-1945), prepared several studies, preliminary draft projects and plans, for example, the projects for the area around the Cathedral of Porto, in 1940; the Preliminary Urban Plans for Vila Nova de Gaia, from 1944 to 1949, along with Bonfim Barreiros; the projects for Macedo de Cavaleiros, from 1945 to 1951, and other projects for Carrazeda de Ansiães, Famalicão, Guimarães and Viana do Castelo. His link to Matosinhos was quite evident: he executed many projects for this council, for example, the Regulatory Plan of the Council (1964-1965) and the Block Plan for Gondivai (1976-1977).
He retired in 1985 and three years later died in Porto.
Arménio Losa, the author and co-author of more than one hundred projects, and a simple and modest man with strong political and professional convictions, left us a vast modern architecture legacy, a pioneer in the field of Urban Planning. He also left us the example of what an anti-fascist was.
A large part of his professional archives is stored in the Document Centre of FAUP since 1992, which is constantly updated with new documents on the architecture and urban planning activities of one of the greatest Portuguese architects of the 20th century.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2010)