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Maria Carlota
de Carvalho e Quintanilha

1923, Coimbra (PT)

Carlota Quintanilha & João José Tinoco. Pemba Airport (1959-61)

Maria Carlota de Carvalho e Quintanilha


C. Quintanilha. Fotografia de proesso escolar na ESBAP.JPG


EBAL (1944-1948)

EBAP (1948-1953)



final exam / graduation project

Nursery (w/ classrooms; sewing; nursery)

in Vila de Rei, Portugal

work in Africa





practice & partnerships

Independent practice; João José Tinoco (husband) and other architects (after the divorce)

other activities

High school teacher


Maria Carlota Quintanilha was a Portuguese architect who worked in Mozambique during Portuguese colonial rule. She was born in Coimbra in 1923 and died in Lisbon in 2015. She was the first woman architect to land in African territories under Portuguese colonial administration. She began her training at the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon in 1944 and transferred to its counterpart in Porto in 1948, graduating in 1953. Three years later, she was in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), after a short stay in the Cunene region of Angola. In the Mozambican capital, Quintanilha took up a position as a teacher of preparatory and technical education. However, the lack of specialists in the former colony allowed her to develop an activity in the office of architect João José Tinoco, her husband, working mainly for private companies. During the 1960s, the couple worked alone or in other partnerships for the colonial administration, designing important buildings that are now characterised as part of the "Tropical Modern" heritage, especially in northern Mozambique. Examples include district headquarters and government offices in towns such as Vila Cabral (Lichinga, 1961-1968) or Vila Amélia (Cabo Delgado, 1963-1966). They also designed aeronautical facilities, including the aerodromes at Porto Amélia and Vila Cabral, the headquarters of the Maputo Aeronautical Services and Nampula airport. After her divorce from Tinoco in 1966, Quintanilha continued to work as an architect until 1972, when she returned to Lisbon. 

(Ana Vaz Milheiro, 2021; updated in 2024)

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