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267 years of the gaiola pombalina

The Gaiola Pombalina is a typical Portuguese structural construction element, composed of vertical, horizontal and diagonal wooden elements (the so-called structure in the form of Saint Andrew's crosses), which guarantees a good capacity for resistance to seismic action.





We're approaching the first day of November, All Saints' Day when. 267 years ago, the city of Lisbon woke up to a day that would change its history and urban design, also changing the history of architecture and construction.


Being all Saints' Day, dawn arrived with many people going to churches, to light candles and pray for their ancestors.


But something changed. The ground began to shake, shaking the walls of the houses and churches, destroying the city and the lives of many people. The destruction did not stop there, as a violent fire followed - not only because fire was the only way to light, but precisely because of the candles already lit in churches. The destruction, once again, did not stop there, as a voracious tsunami followed, with the Tagus River invading the city without mercy.


This is the basis from which the reconstruction of the city of Lisbon starts, and from where the famous Baixa Pombalina was born, a classic urban design from the 18th century, with straight, wider, brighter streets with a more imposing and organized feature.


It is from this process of urban renaissance in Lisbon, led by Marquês de Pombal, and from one of the greatest challenges for Portuguese engineering and architecture, that the famous Gaiola Pombalina is born, recognized for being the first anti-seismic element of construction worldwide.


The Gaiola Pombalina is a typical Portuguese structural construction element, composed of vertical, horizontal and diagonal wooden elements (the so-called structure in the form of Saint Andrew's crosses), which guarantees a good capacity for resistance to seismic action.


It is possible that the Gaiola Pombalina appeared before this time, mainly in the Nordic countries, where wood is the main material used in construction. But it still has specific characteristics and uses created in Portugal.


This cross structure, made from wood, has an excellent seismic behavior which, when filled with masonry, has an additional resistance. The original buildings of the current Pombaline downtown in Lisbon have this structure.


Its creation and use is so effective and visionary that the system that supports it was used in civil construction and architecture until the end of the first half of the 20th century. There is more than 200 years of use of a highly visionary construction technique. In fact, it is still used today, but with using more up-to-date materials.


Today, we are reminded of this great innovation, because in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the original buildings of the Baixa Pombalina, it is very common to see sections of Gaiolas Pombalinas exposed, for an aesthetic and decorative effect. A historic tribute to an unparalleled innovation in this area that we are following and that we are now highlighting.