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Public wash-houses in Portugal: spaces of aggregation and sanitary aid. The case of study of the city of Aveiro

  • Authors: CAMPISI, Tiziana; SAELI, Manfredi,
  • Publication year: 2019
  • Type: Contributo in atti di convegno pubblicato in volume
  • OA Link:


This paper investigates the typology of the Portuguese public wash-houses that represents a very important sanitary aid and a space of social aggregation. More particularly, the most common features of such a typology will be outlined: architectural configuration, materials and technology, constructive characteristics, hydraulic equipment, historical evolution. These simple but highly functional little buildings are spread across the whole country and had been extremely important for the population since the middle age. In the last two centuries, new wash-houses were built, also following the scientific advances and the novel health requirements that spread in Europe between the XIX and XX centuries. Some European cases will be introduced for comparative reasons. With time, they were enlarged, rebuilt, restored, and many new were built. Finally, the wash-houses of the area of Aveiro will be discussed in deep. There, as commonly happens in other locations in Portugal, these buildings are still used by the old people to wash their clothes. The study of such an architectural typology will be extremely interesting for all the scholars - historian of construction, technologist, restorer, and urban planner - approaching the vast theme of sanitary construction where materials and technologies are strictly related to human health, sanitary requirements, innovation in medical science. Nowadays, public wash-houses represent an image of the past that must be preserved with all the possible attention and care to avoid incongruous works on a so “simple” and “intuitive” building that joins together architecture, engineering, and medical science.