In May 2012, Ordem dos Arquitectos (Association of Architects) opened a tender enabling its members to choose the new editorial team of the Jornal Arquitetos (J–A) in charge of production of numbers 246–252, to be published in 2013 and 2014.
The new team, coordinated by the architects André Tavares and Diogo Seixas Lopes (Director and Deputy Director of the publication, respectively), contacted us to contribute to the journal’s graphic design. The team proposed an editorial line based on observation and critical reaction to contemporary Portuguese reality, and suggested a strategy based on writing journalistic texts, closer to a reporter style. In addition to the directors, the editorial team consisted of nine architects and three well-known photographers.
One of the relevant factors specified within the tender programme was a very significant cut in the journal’s budget. The publishing option to print the entire journal in black and white, using a lighter and cheaper paper, was directly established between the journal’s editorial team, R2 and the printers. This choice enabled relative cost savings, primarily due to the fact that it lowered the journal’s weight, since the cost of shipping 13.000 copies by mail is one of the biggest budget items.
However, the choice to use black and white required greater discipline in the production of specific images and the reintroduction of an aesthetic that had become increasingly rare in the dissemination and discussion of architectural images. It quickly became clear that this option was not solely, nor particularly, taken for economic reasons, but instead made it possible to build clear arguments and drastic communication strategies in line with the new editorial line that the team wanted to adopt. The results of the tender were revealed in September 2012, and after production of the first texts and images, it was possible to adjust the graphic design in accordance with the materials-related options taken in conjunction with the printers during the tender phase. This consistency made it possible to stabilise a secure graphic model from the very first edition, for the first quarter of 2013 (January – March, 2013).
We wanted the graphic design to be affirmative and unpretentious, ranging between a manifesto-style approach and a standard architectural publication. Exploration of the contrasts between different sizes, titles, subtitles, continuous text and captions, was based on the International Swiss Style and the composition of more classical books, since we used a strict grid which we specifically designed for this purpose. The grid served to structure the texts, images and the relationships between the various elements, in which we confronted asymmetrical compositions with a central axis marked by the chapter and the page numbering. For the titles we used PDU typeface since it is a universal template on the basis of which it is possible to draw all the letters of the alphabet, in lower and upper case, numbers, accents and punctuation marks.
Patented in 1876 by Joseph David (USA), the PDU (Plaque Découpée Universelle) was successfully presented during the Universal Exhibition of 1878 in Paris, and has since been the subject of many adaptations. The most recent exploration of the freedoms and restrictions offered by this template grid has been developed by the Belgian designer, Dries Wiewauters, who became interested in the font after reading the essay by Eric Kindel “The 'Plaque Découpée Universelle': a geometric sans-serif in 1870s Paris”, published in 2007 in number 7 of the magazine, Typography Paper. Following this publication, Wiewauters created the typeface PDU in 2010, published by the British publisher Colophon. The universality of PDU and its precise geometry exhibit characteristics that are shared with architecture, thus establishing a further parallel between graphic design and architecture, which the J–A itself aimed to extol.
For the text, the typeface is Antwerp, designed by Henrik Kubel and published by A2-Type (London). This font follows some of the features of sixteenth century typography. Its contemporary design resulted from study of the fonts on display in the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp — hence its name. This font seeks to be both comfortable for both printed and screen versions, and is designed for five different sizes, as well as a version with prominent italics, which underlines the attention given to every detail.
For additional information, subtitles. numbering and captions, we used the Regular typeface, also designed by Henrik Kubel. This font is inspired by the metallic versions of several modern fonts designed by Paul Renner. The rationality of this sans-serif font offers legibility to the reader that is not offered by the PDU in small sizes.