Although it is currently considered to be one of the major achievements in Portuguese art history, the recovery of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake was not always recognized as such. Monotony, pragmatism, parsimony, repetitive patterns and a lack of fantasy and originality were powerful anathemas that cast a vast shadow over the city built under Marquis de Pombal's government. In 1949, Pardal Monteiro, one of the most important Portuguese modernist architects, was the first author to re-evaluate the pombaline city fabric arguing that its architecture and urbanism foreshadowed the Modern Movement. However the terms of his appraisal prompted significant interest, the main critical discourses kept on reflecting a negative assessment of Pombal's undertaking. José-Augusto França's Lisboa Pombalina e o Iluminismo (Pombaline Lisbon and the Enlightenment) published in 1965 was the turning point in this regard – despite the fact that the negative discourse still endures in its own preface contributed by Pierre Francastel, the recognition of the reconstructed city as a Public Interest heritage in 1978 was a direct outcome of this study. França's complete and thorough analysis placed the new city within the aesthetics of the Enlightenment and emphasised the symbolic dimension both of its urban plan and of its plaza real. Yet França did not grant any artistic value to its housing typology – even if he recognises that the housing block is the very Pombaline building. My argument points out the theoretical framework that supported those discourses, while addressing the paradox implied on França's thesis – i.e. the simultaneous recognition of the architectonic importance of the housing typology and its lack of aesthetics qualities.