ARX portugal extends the ilhavo maritime museum ARX portugal extends the ilhavo maritime museum
oct 10, 2013

ARX portugal extends the ilhavo maritime museum

lisbon-based architecture firm ARX portugal has completed an extension on the ‘ílhavo maritime museum’. the renovation–a refurbishment of an old school–sees the addition of a codfish aquarium that connects the existing two buildings on site. the placement of the supplementary structure relates to the already established context of the research centre, and aids in defining its immediate public spaces.

the extension connects the two existing buildings on site
all images by FG + SG – fotografia de arquitectura (© fernando guerra + sérgio guerra
) / courtesy of ARX portugal



situated among the context of small residences, the ‘ílhavo maritime museum’ is shaped by the interstices of its urban domestic fabric, establishing a new public domain for the city’s inhabitants. in its presence, it breaks into two horizontally overlapping bodies, defined by material — a white concrete volume emerges from the ground and sets the basis for defining a square, while a floating black body of metal scales is elevated above this plaza.

elevated above a plaza between the two volumes, the extension establishes a new public domain for visitors



visitors circulate through the main internal programs via a spiraling ramp that is suspended over the main tank that offers an immersive experience of the featured cod habitat. an informal auditorium provides extensive visibility of the aquarium, and marks a pause for contemplation of the species presented. the technical components of the extension are housed in the basement of the space in order to guarantee a subliminal operation of all life support systems, quality of seawater, control of air temperature.

the structures are defined by material–white concrete and metal scales

approach and external circulation

aerial view of the addition which houses a cod aquarium


spiral ramp which indicates visitor circulation throughout the interior



project info:


technical data
location: ílhavo, portugal
owner: ílhavo municipality
project: 2009-11
construction: 2011-12
architecture: ARX portugal, arquitectos lda., 
josé mateus, nuno mateus
team: ricardo guerreiro, fábio cortês, ana fontes, baptiste fleury, luís marques, sofia raposo, sara nieto, héctor bajo
area: 2,500 sqm


structures: TAL projectos, projectos, estudos e serviços de engenharia lda.
electrical and telecommunications planning, security planning: AT, serviços de engenharia electrotécnica e electrónica lda.


mechanical planning: PEN, projectos de engenharia lda.
sanitary planning: atelier 964
photography: FG + SG – fotografia de arquitectura (© fernando guerra + sérgio guerra



have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.

comments policy
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

architecture news