CEAA (Centro de Estudos Arnaldo Araújo) was founded in 1999 with the aim of developing interdisciplinary scholarly research projects in the academic and artistic areas taught at ESAP, namely architecture, visual arts, film, communication, design, photography, theatre and video. From the outset CEAA had complementary goals such as disseminating its research findings, and organizing cultural, scholarly and artistic events as well as postgraduate courses related to the centre’s research interests.
From 2000, as part of its community interaction activities, CEAA started to draw up small studies that formed the basis for proposals to protect architectural heritage. These included, for instance, a listing proposal for the Ricardo Severo house, submitted to IPAAR, or the rebuilding proposal for a house at Honório de Lima street, Parque da Cidade, by architect Alfredo Viana de Lima, simultaneously submitted to Oporto City Council and to Sociedade Porto 2001.
By 2002 the Centre had initiated a programme to ensure the dissemination of findings from its own research, through small exhibitions and in-house publications both designed and carried out by its own researchers, which led to their being generically known as Exposições Caseiras [Home Exhibitions] and Edições Caseiras [Home Publications].
That same year also saw CEAA’s first public activity devoted to publicising the research carried out on architect Arnaldo Araújo, ESAP’s founder, after which CEAA is named.
Without ever having been interrupted, the Centre’s activities slowed down between 2003 and 2006, when most of its researchers became full members of research unit no. 417, Instituto de História da Arte / Contemporary Art Studies, at the Social Sciences and Humanities Faculty of Universidade Nova de Lisboa. At the time CEAA was preparing the ground for closer collaboration with ESAP’s other units and bodies, while raising its international profile particularly by reinforcing links first with Universidad de Valladolid and later with Universidad de Vigo, as part of existing protocols with both establishments.
During this period the centre proceeded to broaden its research fields and increase the number of researchers. The areas of Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Film and Audiovisual Media were thus added to the Architecture-related work that had originally been CEAA’s focus.
In 2007 CEAA submitted a proposal to FCT to constitute itself as an R&D unit in its own right, organised around two main research groups: Theory, Criticism and History of Architecture; and Theory, Criticism, History and Practices of Contemporary Art. This led to the centre’s approval as research unit no. 4041 (ART-NORTE-PORTO-4041) funded by FCT since 2009.
From 2009 the Centre organises the CEAA Conferences, designed both as a platform to publicise the unit’s research findings and as an opportunity for sharing and debating ideas with other researchers in the field. Characterised from the outset by their international profile, these conferences were subsequently also held in other countries under collaboration agreements and research partnerships.
2009 also saw a new policy designed to open up opportunities for young researchers, both junior fellows and European PhD candidates.
In 2010 CEAA undertook its first autonomously-funded research project (FCT/COMPETE) under the title The ‘Popular Architecture in Portugal’. A Critical Look. Others have followed that.
In November 2011 CEAA established regular (approximately quarterly) self-assessment meetings to internally debate its own work. Under the title Terreiros da Crítica [Yards of Criticism], these have had a significant impact both on the Centre’s internal cohesion and on its performance.
Recently (April 2013) the CEAA undertook an internal reorganization, by structuring itself into three research groups devoted to Architectural Studies, the Film Studies and Art and Critical Studies.