alvaro siza restores the district of chiado in lisbon alvaro siza restores the district of chiado in lisbon
oct 30, 2013

alvaro siza restores the district of chiado in lisbon

álvaro siza restores the district of chiado in lisbon
image © designboom




on august 25th, 1988, a fire broke out in chiado, one of lisbon’s central districts. originating in the department store grandella, it spread to another department store, chiado, blazing into 16 other buildings within close proximity, mostly tertiary, in the zone linking baixa to chiado, where rua do carmo, rua garrett and rua nova do almada meet. the catastrophe marked the end of a slow process of decay and the beginning of a period of regeneration for the area.

alvaro siza lisbon designboom
the site of ‘terraços do carmo’
image © designboom




in the aftermath, the city council adopted two fundamental premises that would govern the future of lisbon’s traditional center: the first being an integrated programme of functional revitalization that would conserve chiado’s urban image and enhance its residential outlook; and the invitation of architect álvaro siza to generate a ‘layout plan for the recovery of the damaged area of chiado’–of which work began in january 1989 and was completed in april 1990. some of the most immediate restoration was seen in the the replacement of pedestrian routes between baixa and chiado through the implementation metal walkways, preventing the quarter from being completely abandoned by city dwellers, instead offering a means of allowing inhabitants to follow the progress of the work.

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the ‘terraços do carmo’ site plan
image © designboom




for more than a decade, architect álvaro siza has been leading an extensive restoration project that has seen chiado transform into a zone of thriving real estate. the portuguese architect’s reconstruction plan was originally drawn up in 1990, and employs a ‘sizian mode’ of reinterpreting the pombaline style–an 18th century portugese architectural genre typically seen in the surrounding neighborhoods–expressed through the form work used in the stone block constructions, along with the choice of colors and treatment of materials utilized.

álvaro siza‘s plans wrap around the site of the ‘terraços do carmo’ development
image © designboom




the area of intervention overseen by siza has included the plots affected by the fire and surrounding district. integrated into the pomabline matrix of the existing quarter, the ‘layout plan for the recovery of the damaged area of chiado’ stimulates and enhances the pedestrian routes through the creation of two patios that are within blocks of the main buildings, thus reopening the ancient links between the baixa shelf and the hills of chiado and carmo. their presence restricts traffic and car parking into the neighbourhood through the redesign of public space and the planning of new commercial zones. the revitalization also heavily promotes residential use, that was previously minimal at the time of the fire; as well as a hotel adjoining the new and old chiado department stores.

orthogonal site plan
image © designboom




the ‘layout plan for the recovery of the damaged area of chiado’ focused on the notion of that quality of public space, reflected the quality of life, as was considered through the various communal areas incorporated into the plan. to ensure that the renovation did not disturb the history of the area, a survey of traditional paving methods informed the solutions proposed for the surfacing of streets, pavements and patios. the primary, and most essential phase of recovery work took place during the 1990s, with the area connected to the lisbon underground in 1998 when the baixa-chiado station was opened.

construction of pedestrian way between chiado and ‘terraços do carmo’
image © designboom




within the block bound by rua do carmo, rua garrett, calçada do sacramento and the south alley of carmo church, the shortened length from the buildings’ frontage to their rear has allowed for an open terrace to be created known as ‘patio B’ forming a strategic link between carmo and chiado. patio B is still to be completed and will only be finished when it is physically connected to the convent and ‘terraços do carmo’, a supplementary project initiated in 2008. the latest architectural installment aims to create new outdoor public plazas, as well as forming diversified routes, bringing the affected area into contact with the church surroundings, providing a broad view from the raised platform over rossio and the rest of lisbon.

view of the site within historic lisbon
image © designboom




a recovery project is always a dry, unfinished project (…) it should be an open project, in time, quite naturally and in the midst of many different contexts, aims and desires, allows space for the sort of life of structures to exist.’ – álvaro siza


the architect on the initial intention to hold a competition for the rebuilding of chiado: ‘a subject for a competition, it was not a question of having an idea for chiado, but of managing the many interests involved and putting together an operation.’

photo of chiado after the fire subsided
image © designboom




documentation of the restoration plans have been presented at galeria 8 in lisbon.
click through the gallery below for a more in depth look at the patio B project, including technical drawings, plans, elevations and models:

  • department stores? pops of flagship buildings, shopping centers and the original street level shops, is what the historical centre zone is about, it’s the same formula, since the terciary speculation boosted it, also in chiado district
    the only department store in lisbon is at central zone, against broad green areas, corbusier comes to mind, not siza

    rui pimpão says:
  • Architectural restoration is generally very hard work and only a pleasure for the architects involved when some stages are completed. Alvaro Siza must be recognised and lauded as a major biographer of Portuguese culture.The work of most Portuguese architects I have seen is well and logically thought out, constructionally sober and aesthetically very pleasing.

    wwwillem says:

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