AMORIM black cork wall by josé neves becomes urban furniture for a cultural square in lisbon

AMORIM black cork wall by josé neves becomes urban furniture for a cultural square in lisbon

the construction of an object suitable for screening an open-air cinema was the pretext for architect josé neves’ transformation of the belém cultural center (CCB) square in lisbon. the existing manuel salgado and vittorio gregotti-designed scheme has since become an active space for the thousands of people who visit CCB during the summer months. josé neves designed an AMORIM black cork wall that creates wraps along the south surface if the site. this area, which lies in the shade for nearly the whole day, sees an integrated bench that allows visitors to contemplate the urban spectacle.

the cork wall is in line with the metrics that govern the architecture of the CCB
all images by francisco nogueira



three circumstances were fundamental to the realization of the project: the square is a place of constant movement and provides access to the museum; the architecture of belém cultural center square is ruled by a geometry made evident by a grid on the ground, the repetition of cleft limestone slabs, and the arrangement of apertures; the intervention of blocks is made of AMORIM’s black cork composite.

panelling occupies the 68 meter long south wall that encloses the square




josé neves designed the rhythm of the cork wall in line with the metrics of the CCB. its height is the same as the base of the existing concrete arch, lending a human scale to the entire square. at the western end of the site, the wall turns and closes off the existing pathway, making a corner for visitors to watch films. the distinctive qualities of cork mean that the transformation of the square is not only about experiencing a new scale, but also understanding the textural qualities of the material.

vertical and horizontal edges were treated differently



solid blocks of cork — whose color is formed by a thousand brown tones that change over time — appear to make the CCB’s slabs of cleft limestone become lighter and more delicate. ‘there was probably not a single person crossing the square without coming over to touch the cork with their hands,’ neves describes. rather than constructing an object, the project was about finding a solution that would have the capacity to transform the square into an active and lively social space.

the cork wall has two alternating thicknesses, creating a mass that vibrates with protrusions and recesses

at the western end of the square, the wall turns, making a corner in which to view films sheltered from the wind

the 2.8 meter high wall is the height of the base of the existing concrete arch that visually opens the square

with the presence of the wall, its form, materiality, color, light and shade, perception shifts constantly

the reading of a temporary work can be permanent, lasting in the memory of those who experience it

solid, smooth and warm blocks of cork have been joined to the slabs of limestone

the project takes advantage of the existing space and redefines its character
image © josé neves



project info:


location: lisbon
project year: 2017
construction year: 2017
architect: josé neves
collaborators: diogo amaro, apolinário silva (models)
curator: andré tavares
photography: francisco nogueira
client: garagem sul – centro cultural de belém
sponsorship: amorim isolamentos



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by nina azzarello | designboom

  • Interesting use of material … anyone know a source for …. BLACK CORK ?

    Leonardo Sideri says:

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