Theses defended

Para uma arqueologia crítica da arquitetura

António Ginja

Public Defence date
May 15, 2023
Doctoral Programme
História da Arte
Luísa Trindade , Raimundo Mendes da Silva e Rui Lobo
Both architectural heritage and stratigraphy of architecture are acknowledged in the
current legislative framework, as archaeological heritage and as archaeological work,
respectively. Between the publication of the basic law of cultural heritage in 2001 and
the enactment of the regulation of archaeological works in 2014, the archaeology of
architecture also gained due institutional recognition in Portugal, adding to the scientific
acceptance that this subject already enjoyed in various other countries. Since then, the
archaeology of architecture has been conducted in this country under the constraints
imposed by the protection of cultural assets as a measure of protection for architectural
heritage, to be applied when that heritage is at risk of being affected within the scope of
rehabilitation projects. Indeed, for decades the archaeology of architecture has invested
in methodological tools that, while subject to improvement, allow the most diverse
construction processes to be detected and decoded, and as such is of great use in the
sustainable rehabilitation of architectural heritage.

Nevertheless, interpretation of the terms of the law is subjective, the time during
which archaeology of architecture applies is problematic and the technicians responsible
for applying it still lack preparation. These factors have led to archaeology of architecture
being only a circumstantial service with erratic results, which may in practice play a part
in the scientific knowledge of a historic building, but contribute little to effectively
preserving it. Currently, the preservation and authenticity of cultural identity and the
economic potential inherent in architectural heritage are increasingly becoming political
priorities. It is thus important to understand why the level of the archaeology of
architecture's contribution is still low in Portugal, as well as to indicate ways in which the
continued limitations on its potential scientific contribution can be resolved.

Architectural heritage, symbolically and phenomenologically charged as it is,
cannot, however, be understood today only as the result of a constructive process, but
is also the materialization of social and aesthetic intentions. As such, scientific
interpretation of it requires archaeological analysis as much as diagnostics from other
disciplines. Thus, the present thesis, moving towards a fairer and more holistic strategy
for protecting heritage, is invested in the synthesis of epistemology and already legally
recognized methods specific to archaeology with the contribution of other disciplines,
such as art history or architecture. The key to a transdisciplinary approach lies in opening
up archaeological methods to the scientific assumptions of subjects with shared objects
of study. Indeed, this may finally transform the archaeology of architecture into a true
tool for the protection and appreciation of Portuguese architectural heritage.

This thesis is divided into four chapters. It starts with the problematization of the
concepts of intervention and rehabilitation of architectural legacies as active agents of
history itself, aiming to question the contribution of architectural stratigraphy in the
adoption of different strategies for the rehabilitation of architecture. From the stratigraphic
heritage of archaeology, it then progresses to the conjectures that led to the affirmation
of architecture as a document subject to archaeological interpretation. It encompasses
acceptance and rejection of the archaeology of architecture, in order to discuss the
institutional and legislative frameworks that led to its establishment in Portugal. From the
consecration of architecture as an archaeological heritage, listing the main problems of
architectural archaeology, it moves on to discussing possible ways to improve its
performance in the scientific field and as a tool for safeguarding Portuguese architectural

key words: archaeology of architecture, urban rehabilitation, stratigraphy, architectural heritage