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Casa da Cultura (House of Culture), Recife

The inauguration of the House of Culture took place on April 14, 1976. Today, the site is a hub of regional culture and one of the city’s mandatories tourist spots.

Casa da Cultura (House of Culture), Recife

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Last update: 05/02/2013

By: Lúcia Gaspar - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

In 1848, the government of the Province of Pernambuco decided to build a new jail for the city of Recife and instructed the engineer MamedeAlves Ferreira (1820-1862) to design the project. Mamedewas also the author of the projects forthe PernambucanoGymnasiumand Pedro II Hospital, in Recife.

The design of the new House of Detention of Recife was completed in 1850, and was createdfollowing the most modern prison model at the time, in which the basic principle was to have inmates’ cells positioned in a way so that they could be monitored from a single central control compartment.

The construction of the building, with 8,400 square metres of building area and 6,000 square metres of outdoor patio, finished in 1867 and cost 800,000 contos de réisto the government of Pernambuco. The building, shaped like a cross, is composed of four rays, North, South, East and West, each one with three floors, and converginginto a central hall topped with a metallic dome.

On March 15 1973, Recife’sHouse of Detention of was closed by Governor Eraldo Gueiros Leite and the inmates transferred to other prisons around the state, particularly the ItamaracáAgricultural Penitentiary.

The idea of transforming the old House of Detention, a building listed by the Pernambuco Foundation of Historical and Artistic Heritage (FUNDARPE), into the House of Culture was givenby the artist Francisco Brennand, who at the time was the Chief of Staff for the first government Miguel Arraes, from October 1963 until the eve of the 1964 military coup. He wanted to create a similar institution in Pernambuco to the education centres in the areas of literature, theatre, music and visual arts, which were being created in France by the writer André Malraux.

The project to restore the old neoclassical complex was done by the Italian-Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi, along with Jorge Martins Junior. The restoration and equipment were under the responsibility of FUNDARPE.

In August 1975, while the restoration work was still being carried out,the 2ndPernambuco Global Art Salon took place at the site,sponsored byRedeGlobo and FUNDARPE.

The inauguration of the House of Culture took place on April 14, 1976. Today, the site is a hub of regional culture and one of the city’s mandatories tourist spots. Its old cells are occupied by craft shops, a bookstore and coffee shops. It is a space for concerts and regional folkloric representations, and also houses the Museum of Frevo.

Retaining its original features, the House of Culture was declared a historical monument of Pernambuco by Decree 6,687 on3 September 1980.


Recife, 21 de julho de 2003.
(Atualizado em 25 de agosto de 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.

sources consulted

CARRAZONE, Erica. Brennand e a Casa da Cultura. Suplemento Cultural D.O PE, Recife, ano 10, p. 9, jan. 1997.

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura de Pernambuco, 1977. p. 112.

SOUSA, Alberto. O classicismo arquitetônico no Recife imperial. João Pessoa: UFPB, Editora Universitária; Salvador: Fundação João Fernandes da Cunha, 2000. p. 86-98.

ACADEMIA Brasileira de Letras: os acadêmicos. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 25 nov. 2004.

BLOCH, Israel; ABREU, Alzira Alves de (Coord.). Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro: 1930-1983. Rio de janeiro: Forense Universitária; FGV/CPDOC; Finep, 1984. v. 2.

how to quote this text

Source:  GASPAR, Lúcia. Casa da Cultura (House of Culture), Recife. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009