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Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

1st Edition, 2012

Curatorial Text

Like so many Lisbon citizens and visitors, I fell in love with the magnificent metropolis. A big reason is summarised in two great quotes taken together- Shakespeare wrote ‘if music be the food of love, play on’, while Goethe described architecture as ‘frozen music’. Lisbon’s architecture has played on, ever since the Moors built fortifications that became the Castelo de São Jorge high above the Baixa, and it continues to play in amazing twenty-first structures like the striking Museu Nacional dos Coches and the magical Fundação Champalimaud.

But how many of us stop to look at the feast of Lisbon’s architecture? Even if we enter a great public building, do we know what it is about the building itself that makes it special? Open House is all about unlocking the secrets of architecture for you, the public, so that everyone can enjoy it. That means opening a lot of doors that are usually shut, and even when they’re open, giving you the insights to enjoy and understand the architecture there. We do that with guides, tours, and information sheets that are all free, and some of Portugal’s leading architects will be making contributions. It all comes together in one amazing weekend.

Open House is an annual not-for-profit event that was started in my home city London exactly 20 years ago by Victoria Thornton. It now spans the globe with almost 20 cities. I brought the idea to the Lisbon Architecture Triennale and I am so proud and happy that together, we are launching Lisbon’s first edition of Open House, this year. We join a family where we celebrate the same values and love for our urban environment, and as well as those big brothers London and New York, it includes some of the coolest cities on the planet, like Barcelona or Helsinki or Melbourne. Lisbon rightly belongs with such places!

I’m lucky enough to travel a lot, to look at and write about architecture and design, yet Lisbon’s layers of architectural history still thrill me. From the uniquely Portuguese Manueline baroque style of the seventeenth century, through the rebuilding directed by the Marquês de Pombal after the 1755 earthquake, a fascinating story has continued to unfold. The twentieth century’s waves of architectural styles – including Art Deco, Modernism and Brutalism, the typical constructivist-monumentalism of the Estado Novo dictatorship, and Postmodernism – all will feature in our first list of around 50 buildings. We will bring you palaces and houses, national treasures and obscure gems, spectacle and intimacy, revelation and inspiration… and not least, a great weekend out.

— Herbert Wright

A note from Open House's founder

“We are delighted that Lisbon is joining the Open House Worldwide family, and hope that citizens of Lisbon enjoy, engage with and enter a dialogue with the city’s present and future built environment”

Victoria Thornton

Board and Staff

Open House Lisboa 2012

Consultoria Curatorial
Herbert Wright
Consultoria Local
Fernando Sanchez Salvador
Coordination OH Lisboa
Patrícia Marques
Volunteer Programme
Raquel Morais
Education Service
Susana Gaudêncio
Communication Design
Van Condensed by Ricardo Santos


Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

José Mateus, Chairman
Nuno Sampaio, Vice-Chairman
José Manuel dos Santos, Member
Maria Dalila Rodrigues, Member
Pedro Araújo e Sá, Member
Deputy Director
Manuel Henriques
Management Assistant
Ana Fernandes
Communication and Press
Maria Schiappa (coordinator)
Joana Cordeiro
Rute Paredes (editor)
Carla Cardoso (coordinator)
Pedro Sadio
Célia Costa
Sofia Baptista
Fundraising and Partnerships
Sara Battesti (coordinator)
Michael DaCosta Babb


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