‘It was a landmark of tropical modernism – but it was abandoned during the civil war’
Like so many buildings in Angola’s capital, Luanda, Hotel Panorama has been abandoned. It’s a relic of colonial times. Built in the 1960s, the hotel is a landmark of tropical modernist architecture – a kind of African take on Le Corbusier. But its own history has been entirely lost. I have found almost nothing about it in any archive. This swimming pool, the hotel and the people who stayed here are all lost in the mists of history. A few black-and-white photographs from the 60s are all that remain. Instead of uncovering Hotel Panorama’s history, I tried to write it.
Angola was a Portuguese colony until 1974. After centuries of colonial rule, the national liberation movements took up arms in the 1960s. Over a decade of fighting resulted in Angolan independence, but civil war broke out soon after. The conflict raged into the new millennium and war left much of the country in ruins. The country’s history is complex, painful and often difficult to access. Architecture is one way of reading the past.