Once a Colonial Hotel, now an Inhabited Ruin

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Once a Colonial Hotel, now an Inhabited Ruin

The modernist Grande Hotel in Mozambique was built as a luxury hotel by the Portuguese, but is now a dilapidated slum.

Inside the quiet Ponta Gea district of Beira, Mozambique sits the Grande Hotel. A relic of luxury marking the cosmopolitan era of 1960s Portuguese colony, it now stands as another of the country’s concrete modernist ruins.

Architecturally, the building was notable for its impressive concrete spans, its fluidity, and its overall size, marking out the ingenuity and idealism of the young architects emerging from the 1948 CIAM congress. All this, however, has been overshadowed by an unexpected use that has been found for the hotel. The once grand building now hosts one of the largest communities of squatters in the country, 2500 residents who have garnered the attention of a multitude of press, the photographer Guy Tilim and inspired a film by Lotte Stoops.