Olhão's cultural vandalism continues - another historic building demolished

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OlhaoSports7SMALLOlhão football club’s former headquarters on the Avenida da Republica was torn down today to make way for a block of apartments.

The Sports Club ‘Os Olhanenses,’ building was inaugurated in December, 1937 and acted as the football club’s social and administrative centre until the 1980s. It now is a footnote in the city's history.

The building deliberately had been allowed to deteriorate yet had not attracted the often intrusive attention of the Council, which could have issued the owner with a repair order as the crumbling building had a social, architectural and aesthetic importance and was one of the City’s architectural reference points.

After years of vandalism, frozen by an 'above market value' selling price, a plan was submitted to the Council to tear down the building, thus erasing decades of history by replacing the building with a block of apartments.

“It is a building of very unique character there is no other building in the Algarve with the same architectural trait plus a reason to stay intact ...” reads one Facebook comment. Indeed, local social media burst into action on Sunday night, less than 12 hours before the machines moved in.

Foreign and local commentators agreed that the building should not be knocked down, but a lack of information about the fate of the building ensured the correct paperwork was in place to allow the Komatsu driver to make an early start on Monday morning.

The Police were in place to block off the road and divert traffic and a lone firefighter played water over the billowing dust as wall after wall was torn down, irreplaceable plaster-work destroyed and memories consigned to the increasingly full dustbin of Olhao Council’s cultural mistakes.

“...the local powers continues to boast that Olhão has SOUL? This was the slogan that served the Olhão socialist party Council election campaign to express their intentions during their re-election campaign,” posted another local.

“...what matters is the architectural value and its history. This is one of those buildings in Olhão which should have been classified a long time ago. But in Olhão, few buildings are classified and the sharks of real estate speculation have a free path,” said another.

Despite the outrage of the largely uninformed foreign population in Olhão, many of whom already have preserved valuable city centre buildings while employing local labour and stripping appallingly treated properties back to their former beauty, there was no pressure group to join to fight against the demolition of the Sports Club building, despite its prominence in the Aveninda and obvious architectural, social and sporting connections.

“The citizens of Olhão were never asked to unite against degradation and abandonment. There was never an enlightened soul that created a SINGLE movement for PRESERVATION!” blasts another posting whose writer has a point: there seems to be no official ‘Preserve Olhão' movement, nor should there be a need for one if the Council was serious about doing little more than using ‘Olhão with Soul’ as an empty electioneering slogan with zero follow through.

In the defined ‘Historic Centre’ of Olhão, such acts of cultural vandalism no longer are permitted, or are harder to arrange but the area outside this circle contains dozens of historic buildings that were created with love and serious money at a time when Olhão had grown wealthy from the fishing and canning industries.

The modernisation of the Historic Centre, proposed by the Council in 2016, was fiercely opposed by a heady and highly effective mixture of foreigners and locals and led to a huge and embarrassing climb down by the mayor whose desire to be immortalised by the destruction of a valuable old building and the creation of a huge viewing tower, dubbed 'Pina's Erection', was just part of a generally off-target plan submitted by a firm of architects based in Lisbon.

These plans were shelved but may be brought back into play at any time. Currently the Council is concentrating its modernisation on the city's riverside areas, leaving the historic centre intact although the area around the iconic markets is to be 'upgraded' in a plan that many object to.

Privately owned buildings of historic importance all are at risk for as long as builders legally can profit from demolishing history and erecting blocks of flats.

This is seriously depressing to observe but for as long as the public sits and watches, for as long as the Council deliberately fails to take seriously its role in the region’s history and for as long as the system of classifying important buildings continues as an elitist pastime, the builders will have their new Mercedes every two years and the public will continue to lament these irreplaceable losses.


The Sports Club ‘Os Olhanenses,’ building as at September 9th, 2018 - above and 10th September 2018, below





To be replaced by this....


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