Maria Jose Brito Estanco Machado da Luz was born in Loule, Algarve, on the 26th of March of 1905.
She was the first Portuguese woman to graduate in Architecture, in 1935, for which she received the prize for best student of the course. She had the opportunity to defend her thesis in 1942, with a project for the construction of the first Joao de Deus Kindergarten in the Algarve region.
At the time, however, it was common belief that a woman could not accomplish architectural projects, which led to her being successively denied admittance to several studios and even to her being caricatured by the newspapers of the era.
As a result, even though she managed to be admitted as a member of the National Union of Architects in 1945, Maria Jose da Luz was forced to resort to teaching throughout her whole life, having taught at the D. Filipa de Lencastre, Maria Amalia Vaz de Carvalho and Passos Manuel secondary schools, as well as at the Institute of Odivelas (all located in the Lisbon district). She also taught, for free, drawing and painting classes at the Prison Facility of Linho, and created the interior decoration and furniture creation section of the Modas e Bordados fashion/arts magazine.
In 1992, she was awarded a Distinction of Honor by the Democratic Movement of Women.
Maria Jose da Luz died on the 30th of September of 1999.