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Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa

Miguel Bombarda Hospital – Panopticon

  • Original Authors:
  • José Maria Nepomuceno
  • (1896)

This high-security pavilion, known as Panopticon, was designed as a prison-hospital for patients that were either dangerous or coming from prison, and it should not be confused with the psychiatric wards typical of that era. It represents one of the globally rare examples of the panopticon, a system developed in 1787 by Jeremy Bentham. With great dramatic impact, it paradoxically is, for its originality and beauty, a building of exceptional value. It is characterized by its circular, rigorously symmetric plan, influenced by a surveillance system with a tower located at a central position and by the round edges of benches and doorways. With an extremely avant-garde formal architectural language, it anticipates the modernist revolution that would arrive with the 1920s and 1930s. Considered an extremely relevant element in the history of Portuguese architecture, it operated between 1896 and 2000, and was classified as a Building of Public Interest, in 2001.

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