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Ma Em°lia Caria. Bissau, Photographic Documentation. Feb to April 1966.tif

Maria Emília
Marques Caria

1926, Santarém (PT)


Maria Emília Marques Caria


profile picture_Tavola disegno 1.png





final exam / graduation project

work in Africa

Cape Verde;

Guinea-Bissau; Angola


practice & partnerships

Urbanism Service of DSUH/DGOPC of the Ministry of Overseas

other activities



Maria Emília Caria, a Portuguese architect and urban planner, stood out in the service of the Colonial Public Works based in Lisbon. She worked for Cape Verde, Guinea and Angola during the Estado Novo regime. Born in the Portuguese city of Santarém in 1926, Caria graduated in architecture from the Lisbon School of Fine Arts in 1957. In 1962, she was the first female architect to work for the Ministry of Overseas Territories, in Lisbon, in the Urban Planning and Housing Section of the Directorate-General for Public Works and Communications, sharing duties with three other urban planners.  She was the only woman on the team until it was abolished in 1977, after the revolution of April 1974. She stood out as a consultant in the fields of urban and regional planning, having drawn up 23 urban plans by 1974, most of which were suspended after the independence of Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. Caria argued that local peri-urban communities should be integrated into colonial plans, avoiding segregation, but also keeping pre-existing self-buildings safe from demolition. Her work methodologies involved photographic surveys of urban and suburban landscapes, including surveys of populations, labour and building materials. She died in Portugal in 2000.

(Ana Vaz Milheiro, 2021; updated 2024)

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