Nuts and bolts of informal empire: Victorian engineering enterprise in Iberoamerica

With the collapse of Spain's South American dominions and Brazil's independence in 1822, the continent beckoned European entrepreneurs, speculators and adventurers.

Pedro's lecture focuses on the British and other foreign engineers and manufacturers who came to the new emancipated republics seeking to market goods and services, promising to bring the fruits of the industrial revolution and propel the continent into the nineteenth century. Visionary projects and real achievements created railways, port facilities, urban infrastructures in water supply, gas and sewerage networks in rapidly expanding cities, financed from London and elsewhere in exchange for mineral and agricultural resources.

The talk is based upon Pedro’s James Sutherland History Lecture of 2022, hosted by the Institution of Structural Engineers. The research draws upon fieldwork in various parts of South America and archives holding material in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish in Europe and in the Americas. 


São Paulo, Brazil. Estação da Luz under construction in 1899. Designed by Charles Henry Driver for the São Paulo Railway, financed by British capital. All steelwork and cast iron made in various ironworks and foundries in Britain.


Speaker - Dr Pedro D'Alpoim Guedes

Pedro Guedes left Mozambique to avoid conscription in the Portugal’s colonial wars. He studied architecture at the University of Cambridge, UK, and co-founded Berman & Guedes architects in London. In 1985, he was invited to join Pentagram Design, the acclaimed multi-disciplinary Design Consultancy as Associate Partner. While practising, he taught at the Architectural Association where he was Unit Master and Director of Technical Studies, and at the Royal College of Art as Course Leader in Architecture and Interior Design. Defeated by British drizzle, he came to Australia in 1995, taking his PhD at UQ, where he is cur­rently an Honorary Senior Lecturer. His principal research interest is in the broad field of colonial architectures with a focus on cross-cultural interactions. His publications, conference contributions and records of fieldwork are available through UQ e-space, visit Pedro's profile for more details. 


About ADP Talks

The School of Architecture, Design and Planning is proud to present our new lecture series, ADP Talks.

ADP Talks is the opportunity for us to connect students, alumni and industry professionals together on a variety of topics through engaging presentations and discussions. To find out more and register for a session please click into the session details. 

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Andrew N. Liveris Building, UQ St Lucia