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The Modern Design Delights of Portugal


Portugal may be the oldest nation in Europe--in terms of how long its current borders have been defined--but today it is  known for its innovation and creativity in design. Recently, the Pritzker Prize, called the Nobel Prize for architecture, went to architect Eduardo Souto de Moura. It was first awarded in 1979, and has been awarded to Souto de Moura's former teacher Álvaro de Siza Vieira in 1992. That fact that this is the second time a Portuguese architect has been chosen makes it even more important. "During the past three decades, Eduardo Souto de Moura has produced a body of work that is of our time but also carries echoes of architectural traditions," wrote Lord Peter Palumbo, the prize jury chairman. "His buildings have a unique ability to convey seemingly conflicting characteristics -- power and modesty, bravado and subtlety, bold public authority and a sense of intimacy -- at the same time," he said. 

Included in Souto de Moura's projects are a sports stadium in Braga, the Burgo Tower in Porto, a convent turned Pousada in Amares, a subway segment in Porto, the new Paula Rego Museum in Cascais.

Some examples or major projects that have brought new landmark to Portugal’s urban area in past years include:

Lisbon’s Oriente rail station, which opened for the World Exposition in 1998, is adorned with art, with an oceanic theme, by international artists from five continents.

The Park of Nations near the station was constructed for the 1998 World's Fair in Lisbon, modernizing a rundown waterfront in the city's northeast section and paving the way for continued urban redevelopment. The Portugal Pavilion within the Park of Nations was created by the Portuguese architect Álvaro de Siza Vieira. 

The city of Ilhavo, on Portugal’s central coast, recently refurbished its Maritime Museum, which celebrates the town’s sea-faring culture. The result was a dramatically modern building of white and black stone. 

In the southern Portugal city of Sines, a new cultural center using an impressive austere design now stands at the edge of the city’s historic district, which also features a medieval castle. 

In the Azores, on the island of Sao Miguel, the University of the Azores is becoming the site of modern experimentation in architecture.  The growing campus there is becoming a showcase of the work of young architects. 

In Porto, the relatively new National Contemporary Art Museum helped spur the city’s transformation from a fine wine-producing city to a center of contemporary art and architecture. Numerous galleries now populate the Rua Miguel Bombarda in the city center. In the Foz do Douro area, where the Douro River flows into the Atlantic, is becoming a fashion and design Mecca. The main restaurants and clubs along the city’s riverfront are designed by young Portuguese architects.

Porto’s Casa da Musica (House of Music) is a major performance space designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Finished in 2005, the new venue has become an icon. Casa da Musica’s design has been called "the most attractive project the architect Rem Koolhaas has ever built" by Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times. Others call it the most important concert hall built in the last 100 years. 

Other Portuguese architects awarded internationally with projects in Portugal:

Casa das Mudas - In 2005, the Arts Centre Casa das Mudas in Madeira, Madeira designed by architect Paulo David, received the Mies van der Rohe, one of the most important in this area. That year also won the Iberian Prize and FAD Architecture Prize "Barbara Cappochin. In addition, in August 2010, it was recognized as the most significant work created so far in the twenty-first century.

Casa dos Cubos - The project to rebuild the Casa dos Cubos-House of Cubes in Tomar, written by workshop Embassy, was awarded the Contract World Award 2009, an award for interior architecture considered the most prestigious in Europe. The new building is intended to accommodate the Center for Environmental Monitoring and Interpretation and was also selected as a finalist for awards ArchDaily 2009.

Casa Martinhal  - The ARX, and Jose Nuno Mateus, won in 2008 and 2009 the 'International Architecture Award for the Best New Global Design', delivered by the Museum of Architecture and Design in Chicago. Martinhal first with the Casa Martinhal  in Sagres, and also for its Barreiro School of Technology. Three other Portuguese architects won in 2008.

Fluviarium de Mora - The Fluviário de Mora, Promontory's workshop, led by architect Paul Mooney, was another winner was in 2008 the 'International Architecture Award for the Best New Global Design. " In the same year was also honored with this award, Eduardo Souto Moura, the project Burgo Tower (offices) and the architect Correia Ragazzi, with the work in the House Geres.

Vodafone Lisbon - The Vodafone building in Lisbon, located at Nations’ Park and designed by the architect Alexandre Burmester, won in 2004, the International Prize Dedalo Minosse, assigned by the association of Italian architects, the 'Associazone Architetti Liberi,' and by the international magazine L'ARCA architecture.

Abrigo de cortiça - The Portuguese architect David Mares, 26, won in 2009, the Audience Award in an international competition to design shelters released by the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The project, which combines steel, wood and cork, was one of ten finalists chosen from 600 participants and won 64,875 votes online.


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