Stone it was Stone it Remained: The Evolution of Architecture on the Azores island of Pico
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The culture of building with volcanic stone on the Portuguese Azorean Island of Pico represents the resilience of human creativity. The original settlers of this isolated Atlantic Island were faced with an adverse environment, nonetheless they were able to overcome nature itself and transform the local abundant volcanic stone into vineyards and shelters so that they may survive. The resulting architecture is an intrinsic part of local culture, landscape, and history. This traditional architecture continued to evolve into modern and postmodern typologies that reflected the changing conditions on the island throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While these new buildings employed modern materials and construction methods, they have always maintained a respect for historic materials and methods. The result is a built landscape that evolved from a singular culture over time. However, conservation efforts of this culture are threatening the authentic conditon of the landscape by prioritizing the preservation of traditional architecture in a state of disuse and stagnation to support tourism over the current needs of the people. This is most true in the policies outlined for the UNESCO world heritage site on the island that sees local explorations of material, design and construction methods; which took place as part of a modern and postmodern era of construction on the island, as too dissonant from the historic structures to be allowed, citing them as imported models. This fails to acknowledge that the North American or European migrant is an ever-present figure on the island and the new constructions are equally representative of the local history. As the island enters a new generation with the introduction of the role of the architect there must be a careful consideration of not only what to build but how and for whom. This project seeks to first, tell the story of the creativity of the people that constructed the vernacular, modern, and postmodern buildings on the island of Pico. Then to layout a path for continued evolution of local building tradition that considers the singular historic context, the changing needs of the people, the limited material palette, and the intangible resilient spirit of the local people who created a home in the most inhospitable of places.
Cite this version of the work
Laura Matos (2023). Stone it was Stone it Remained: The Evolution of Architecture on the Azores island of Pico. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19472