Antonio María Braga and Alberto Castro Nunes are the recipients of the 2019 Rafael Manzano Prize. The pair have become of remarkable importance in the field of implementing Portuguese architectural traditions, both in terms of the development of new buildings – classical and vernacular – largely commissioned by different public administrations, and the works on pre-existing buildings. When carrying out this work, their strong commitment to natural materials and traditional construction crafts is clear. They aim for their works to be characterized by their durability, sustainability and beauty. Each of them represents a real manifesto on civic education, respect for the character of the place it is located in, humanism and dedication to the community. Generally speaking, they are works of a small-sized scale, or fragmented into elements capable of retrieving it. They are able to heal the urban fabrics in which they are inserted, retrieving their balance with the local nature and culture. Moreover, the use of classical and vernacular forms is not exempt from creativity and originality, which is a solid proof of their architectural mastery.
Braga and Nunes started to work together during the mid-80‘s, a moment in time when Portuguese legislation almost impeded working with any materials apart from reinforced concrete. Their concern relating to progressively introducing other traditional materials – which articulated in a more respectful way their designs and constructions -soon became a constant exploration of new formulae to convey additional solidity, functionality and harmony to their works.
They have regularly written for newspapers and magazines on these topics. Their role is also especially relevant in the promotion of the new traditional architecture in Portugal.
In their last works, they have only used natural and local materials and they consider one of their greatest successes to be being able to build private dwellings without making use of a single sack of Portland cement.
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