Cobogó – Pernambucan Architecture

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Before talking about this architectural construct, I think it’s best to first define the term, called latticework in English…

“Latticework is a framework consisting of a criss-crossed pattern of strips of building material, typically wood or metal. The design is created by crossing the strips to form a network.” [1]

In Portuguese, it’s called cobogó (or combogó) and it was created by a Pernambucan engineer (and mayor of Recife), a Portuguese trader and a German importer in the late 1920s. The trio (Coimbra, Boeckmann and Góes, or CoBoGó) might have found their inspiration in the mashrabiya, an element of traditional Arabic architecture dating back to the Middle Ages (and likely brought to Recife by the Portuguese, themselves inspired by Moorish buildings). Additionally, Boeckmann had previously traveled to India, where he also saw latticework being used architecturally.

Following the cobogó’s initial popularization in Pernambuco, it spread all over Brazil, becoming a symbol of modernism. It remained popular due to the fact that it allows for ventilation without fully allowing sunlight through, an important aspect in regions with routinely high temperatures.

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The first building to use the cobogó was the Caixa D’Água (above), or water tower, in Olinda, which was built in the early 30s and is now a famous 360 degree lookout point.

A historical and aesthetic study was done on the cobogó and its ties to Pernambuco. It was the inspiration for this post and can be found here. For some photo examples of how cobogós can be used in a modern enviornment, go here.

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