Fiocruz Moorish Pavillion in Rio de Janeiro - Historical aspects, photographic
survey and catalogue of geometrical art applied to architecture
HARRIS, Ana Lúcia
N. C.; MONASTERIO, Clélia Maria C. T.. The Fiocruz Moorish Pavillion
in Rio de Janeiro -
aspects, photographic survey and catalogue of geometrical art applied to
Rio de Janeiro, v. V, n. 3, jul.
2010. Acessible in: <http://www.dezenovevinte.net/arte%20decorativa/fiocruz_mourisco_en.htm>.
The Islamic world has a rich artistic tradition in geometrical and
symmetrical ornamentation. Islamic architecture inherited drawing techniques
from ancient times and shows in its ornamentation and embellishment art a
profound connection with the sense of universality and dualism, strongly
bounded to Sufism.
Islamic art was introduced into Spain by the Islamics and was the
foundation for the appearance of a unique art, the mudéjar, developed by
the Hispanic-Moorish people after the Christian recapture. The La Alhambra
palace [Figure 1] is a true living example of this
art, in spite of having undergone many refurbishments over the years. The term
“Alhambrism”, in use many centuries later, when the world saw the Moorish
revival, was due to the fact that the palace inspired the “Neo-moorish” that
permeated Europe in the eighteenth century.
The “neo-moorish”, sometimes combined with an eclectic architecture made
its way to Brazil in the middle of the nineteenth century. There are few
“Neo-moorish” examples in Brazil; among them there is the “Moorish castle”,
part of the building complex belonging to the Fiocruz Institute, in Manguinhos,
Rio de Janeiro. Despite its eclecticism, the so called Moorish Pavillion [Figure 2] is considered to be one of the
very rare remaining Neo-moorish buildings. This paper describes the beginning of
an undergoing research that studies the geometrical characteristics of the
composite patterns found in this Brazilian Neo-moorish specimen, relating them
to the pictures of Islamic origin. At this point, an historical survey of the
building was undertaken, digital records performed, cataloguing done, drawings
in CAD and models reduced in MDF of certain encountered patterns made. During
this first phase, strong influence of La Alhambra in Granada, Spain, was
observed on the architecture of the Moorish Pavillion, in especial in the
geometrical motives found in several of the architectural elements.
The city of Granada was founded in 756 by the Moors, in the region of
Andaluzia in Spain. The Moors that conquested the Iberian Peninsula were of Arabic
origin having come from East Sahara and Mauritania. The Nasrida dynasty
(1145-1492), the last muslim dynasty on the Iberian Peninsula, was responsible
for the construction of the La Alhambra palace whose name means “the red one”.
This name is due to the colour of the building made of red clay bricks dried in
the sun. The best part of the palace with its splendid arabesques was built
between 1248 and 1354. According to Domingo (2003a), between 1238 and 1492,
Granada had twenty kings, but it was under Sultan Abu Abd Allah, known as
Boabdil, that in 1492 the moors surrendered to the Catholic king and queen,
putting an end to eight centuries of Muslim dominion in the Iberian Peninsula.
With the Catholic reconquest, the Moors in the Peninsula, known as Mudejares
were forced to convert to Christianism, being thereonwards called the Moorish
people. With the conquest of Granada, the Catholic king and queen took over La
Alhambra as part of their symbolic image, incorporating it to the crown´s
patrimony and maintaining it. Since then the palace underwent several
refurbishments. The Christian conquest started a process of alterations to the
architectonic complex of the city of Granada, covering with whitewash the
unfinished works and erasing paintings and gilt. The Renaissance style was
introduced. In 1821, an earthquake caused more damage and in 1828 restoration
The term “Alhambrism” is a consequence of a revival in the eighteenth
century caused, according to Domingo (2003a), mainly due to the attention paid
by Europe to the Islamic world with Egypt´s invasion by Napoleon, originating
an “Orientalism” which was triumphant in its several expressions. The bourgeois
liberalism drew English, French and German scholars to the origins of Western
culture that reflected a then unknown world, in art as in literature. In
architecture the “Neo-muslim” style stood out socially and was much adopted in
holiday resorts. Marked by exoticism, by luxury and sensuality, Neo-muslim
constructions reminded Islamic Oriental paradisiac constructions. The
ornamental basis of the Islamic revival is not defined by a particular
architectonic style but by a formal adaptation to a structure of horseshoe
arches, ceramics, tyles, polichromy, columns and so on. La Alhambra lives a new
phase emerging again, on the one hand, due to Romanticism, and increasing the
value of the European medieval past; on the other hand, due to the recognition
of it being a monumental patrimony and transforms itself into the Spanish
architectural reference in this context.
Notwithstanding, with “Alhabramism” being recognized by some as a
“Neo-moorish” style or a Mudejar one, it has not been the intention to recover
the reasonableness, functionalism, spatial organization or structural values of
Islamic architecture; the main preoccupation has been to approach appearance
and identification aspects thus proportioning an ornamental model from which
medieval architects and decorators extracted elements to adorn their
The Moorish Pavillion
The Moorish Pavillion is a building that is part of the Fiocruz
Institute in Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
According to Costa (2003), the architectonic language called
“Neo-Moorish” appeared in Brazilian productions within readings introduced by
Eclecticism which abounded between the second half of the nineteenth century
and 1930. Putting the entire historical complex, of which the Pavillion is its
main representative, under governmental trust gave the proper recognition to
The architectonic historical Manguinhos complex was built at the beginning
of the twentieth century. Its founder, Oswaldo Cruz, contracted the architect
Luiz de Moraes Junior to plan the Pavillion. Moraes was Portuguese born in Faro and accustomed to European fashions as the
undergoing Neo-moorish style. The planning of the Pavillion began in 1904 and
its construction in 1908, suffering alterations all the way along until its
conclusion in 1918, due to discussions between architect and customer.
According to the site of the Fiocruz Institute, Oswaldo Cruz made a croquis
resembling a medieval castle [Figura 3]. Luiz de Moraes interpreted the cientist's wish
and in his initial designs foresaw only two stories besides an elevated
basement for the Pavillion [Figura 4]. In spite of the Neo-moorish inspiration, the
adopted floor plan did not at all follow the same style precepts. Its
composition did not include a closed inner courtyard as was the usual
architectural trend in those days.
According to Costa (2007), the Neo-moorish style of the Pavillion is mainly
due to the influence Oswaldo Cruz suffered during the period he studied in
Europe. In France he was influenced by the Montsouris observatory [Figura 5]. Costa believes that after a visit to Germany in
1909, Oswaldo Cruz could have been influenced by the architecture of a Synagogue constructed
in Berlin, whose distribution of façades and tower arrangements is similar to
the Moorish Pavillion ones [Figure 6].
As described by Franqueira (2003), the Moorish Pavillion is a seven
storey building with two towers with copper domes. The verandahs are covered
with Portuguese tyles and French mosaics on the floors imitating oriental rugs
[Figura 7]. The main entrance hall stairway
has wooden and plaster panels worked upon in low relief, originally gilted. The
library´s reading-room and the fifth floor hall have walls and ceilings in
decorated plaster of Paris. In these environments the chandeliers made of
bronze and tin with opaline domes produce a suave and diffuse luminosity that
give the place an atmosphere of mystery [Figure 8]. With exception of the areas
planned for the laboratories, the external and internal walls of the building
are covered by typical Islamic arabesques [Figure 9].
The Pavillion also has a lift, installed in 1909 by the Brazilian
Electricity Company Siemens-Schuckertz Werke [Figure 10 and Figure 11]. According to the site of the
Fiocruz Institute, this lift is the oldest one in Rio
working. It has two cabins for passengers and one for cargo. It was projected
for four stops and has optional access from two sides. Constructed in iron, its
passenger cabin is paneled in mahogany and has a ceiling and internal doors
with bisotée mirrors. The drawing of the envolving guard rail was also done by
the same architect and was constructed by the same firm that made the stairway
The Moorish Pavillion was filmed and photographed when visiting the
place in loco in October 2007. From this digital documentation images of
architectonic elements understood to be of Islamic origin were catalogued, part
of which drawn in CAD. This cataloguing was performed focusing on two aspects:
the architectonic elements and later the composite patterns.
Classification by architectonic elements
As a first approach the gathered documentation on the building was
separated and from it extracted images that represented architectonic elements
understood to be typically Moorish and sometimes completely Islamic, as the
examples shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Classification by architectonic elements.
Classification of the composite patterns
Later on part of these images were cut out and reclassified to be
reproduced in CAD (AutoCAD 2005) as the examples shown in Table 2.
Classification by patterns.
According to the architect Renato Rosa, the ornamentation clearly of
Islamic inspiration used to cover entirely the structure of the Moorish
Pavillion was based upon the La Alhambra palace in Granada, on going through
book “The Alhambra” bought by Oswaldo Cruz and given to his architect when
putting up the building. This book is in the Pavillion´s library (COSTA, 2007).
At present, the research is stationed on the comparative analysis between the
composite designs found at La Alhambra and at the Moorish Pavillion. One can
see right away the strong influence mentioned by Costa (2007) of La Alhambra on
going through some of the images as the examples shown in Table 3.
Besides, a process of virtual and physical models are under construction with
the use of CAD/CAM [Figure 12].
Table 3: A
comparative example between architectonic elements of La Alhambra and the
With a very clear Islamic influence in many of its composite patterns
and an evident influence of La Alhambra, the Moorish Pavillion of the Fiocruz
Institute in Rio is indeed an interesting source for geometrical patterns
The next steps in this research will focus on extracting nuclear units
from discovered geometrical patterns and creating new composite forms in a bi
and tridimentionally way by means of virtual and physical modeling.
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We would like to thank the
gentility of the Architect and Researcher Renato da Gama-Rosa Costa for the
interview about the “Moorish pavilion” in October of 2007 and for his
contribution for our research.
version by the authors
* Ana Lúcia Nogueira de Camargo Harris, Dipl.-Arch., is
a Professor at the School of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urban Design, State
University of Campinas - UNICAMP. Her research interests are Architecture
Design, Geometric Patterns, Virtual Reality. She can be reached by
e-mail: email@example.com or postal address: DAC-FEC-UNICAMP, Caixa
Postal 6021, CEP 13084-971 Campinas, SP, Brazil.
** Clélia Maria Coutinho Teixeira Monasterio,
Dipl.-Arch., is a Professor at the School of Civil Engineering, Architecture
and Urban Design, Federal University of Juiz de Fora - UFJF. Nowadays, she is
attending a Pos Graduation Course in Cultural Heritage at Methodist University
of Juiz de Fora-MG, Brazil. Her research interests are Architecture Design,
Descriptive Geometry, Geometric Patterns and Cultural Heritage. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal address:
Rua Senador Salgado Filho, 132 / 301. Juiz de Fora - MG. Brazil. CEP 36021-660.
 Portuguese city with great influences of the
 Oswaldo Cruz (1872-1917), Brazilian scientist,
sanitarist doctor, internationally recognized by his efforts in fight for the
eradication of tropical diseases.
 Stained glass window in the ceiling craftmanship by
Forment & Co (Rio de Janeiro). Until the twentieth century glassware in
Brazil was made in a handicraft way.