Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles
Born in 1922 (May twenty fifth), grew up between Lisbon and Coruche, two worlds that made him aware of the importance of respecting nature, natural order and the connection that must exist between town and countryside. Graduates in Agronomic Engineering and Landscape-Architecture (1952), amongst others, the first generation of Landscape Architects in Portugal. His career spans over 60 years, during which he worked as a designer, as a teacher (Higher Institute of Agronomy and Évora University), in Public Administration (Lisbon Municipality and the Housing Development Institute) and as a member of various Governments. From 1953 to 1960, at Lisbon Municipality, formed ateam that revolutionized the way of thinking and planning the city’s green areas.
The design of S. Jeronimo Chapel park, in 1958, is the main reference on the new approach to developing urban parks. His most emblematic design, the Calouste GulbenkianFoundation Park, Lisbon’s reference garden, was designed in 1962-3, with Antonio Barreto.
The 1974’s Revolution brought him to the forefront of the nation’s political life. First as Secretary of State for the Environment (in 1975), and from 1981 to 83, as Minister of State for Quality of Life, he was a pioneer in the defence and conservation of environmental values, the promotion of land planning, sustainable development and the humanization of cities, and he bears the main responsibility for setting the ground for the current legal Framework Laws on conservation, land-use planning and environmental quality, legislative rules that made Portugal a pioneer in European panorama, influencing other countries.
The promotion of Landscape Architecture in Portugal and abroad has always been a main goal of Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles’ career. He was a key figure in the developing of the Landscape Architecture degree in Portugal, first founded in 1942 by Professor Caldeira Cabral, at Lisbon Higher Institute of Agronomy, and in 1976, at Évora University. As Lisbon’s Municipality Councilor (1998) he battled for the Ecological Structure of the city, amongst other proposals, through the creation of a Peripheral Park and a greenway. Finally, in 2007, all his efforts were recognized with the approval of “Lisbon’s Green Plan”, integrated in the Master Plan for the city´s development.
In 2012 Lisbon’s greenway, connecting Liberdade Avenue to Monsanto Forest Park, was finally concluded. Currently, on behalf of the “Portuguese Association of Landscape Architects” (APAP), the entity of which he was a founding member (1976), and President (2001 to 2005), still carries on the defence of a sustainable development model for the country and for the world.