We are “Mar d’Estórias”, a commercial place that aims to disseminate the best of Portuguese culture; we are in the 21st century where modern times are a master for the methods, techniques, materials and tendencies; and if we can nowadays communicate to others what we were and what we did, and also what is taking place and our speculations on future; if today this building is still important for its magnitude, just like before; if today the route is still a labyrinth; if the Ocean that one can see from the terrace continues to be the Atlantic; then we are a piece of memory of a glorious past, now hailed by the testimonials from our elderly, by the books and files, by the reminiscences and by an imaginary that can instantly put you on the nostalgic state of mind.
84 years ago, the Lagos Fire Brigade was getting ready to re-organize the corporation in this building, after twenty-eight years of their deactivation. Within 54 years, the same walls, the same ceiling, the same staircase, the same floor where we today walk on, would serve the brave men of society.
By visiting and absorbing Mar d’Estórias, it is crucial to understand the meaning behind infrastructures and materials, because there’s always a story to be recognised and a secret to be unveiled. When looking to the niche of the facade, where is now inscribed a bit of the tale about the project and where a porcelain black cat lies behind a glazed structure, it’s important to recognize that the first telephone booth existing in Lagos was installed right there, in 1934.
Where now people can eat nice “petiscos” from Algarve, listen to Portuguese music and enjoy a modern and revivalist space, we could find the room where the firemen kept their materials, such as hoses. To access that room, the men would go up by a trapdoor that used to be located where the refrigerator (with cheeses and smoked meat) is placed today.
In the Books & Music section used to sleep the only fireman living permanently in the building, Mr. José Vicente Carreiro, and later the space became the comrade of both the driver and the rescuer plus three other firemen. Where once before someone would dream in the dark, now people flick through books about other (great) dreamers.
Remembering the History enables us to merge past and present, making us understand that both space usage was/is a concern of a service provided for society (first one, more primary and essential; the second, more modern and recreational).
On the 24th of July of 1886, a «small group of men of the city materialized a collective will of providing society with better conditions». Thus, 130 years ago the Association of the Lagos Fire Brigade was born and a group of men got together for a cause. «If all men run away from the fire, these men, on the other hand, run to face the fire», as stated the vice-director of the Association of the Lagos Fire Brigade, José Martins Pereira.
“Mar d’Estórias” is a commercial project, however is much more than that: it’s a concept, a vision, a feeling and its meaning wouldn’t be what it is if it was not for the building in question – first, the Maritime Compromise Church of Lagos and then, between 1932 and 1986, the headquarters of the Lagos Fire Brigade – men and women that, are more than volunteers wearing an uniform and fighting fires, they are people who save lives, feed hopes and serve a society relying on security, wellbeing and comfort.