Pieces of art containing pieces of art: the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum example

Anyone visiting Lisbon nowadays cannot disregard his trip from a visit to the Calouste Gulbenkian museum. The exhibits contained in this spacious museum are of great importance and rare beauty. Although many know what it contains, few know the history of this magnificent building.

The result of a restricted competition, this ambitious cultural complex was built to house the legacy of the engineer and entrepreneur of Armenian origin for whom the foundation is named and to promote art, culture, education and philanthropic activities.

Placido Gonzalez/Fundación DOCOMOMO Ibérico

The complex is located in a large seven-hectare park, on the outskirts of the city, which was meant to be integrated into Lisbon’s new network of communication routes. The buildings that house the museum, auditoriums, library and headquarters of the prestigious institution occupy different volumes concentrated at the extreme north of the park. The low-rise buildings, with simple volumes and a clear and efficient organization of circulation routes, sit atop a vast underground construction that houses the building systems and a parking area.

The same spirit governs the choice of materials and construction systems, with concrete playing a central role. It was used in both the structure – either pre-stressed or prefabricated reinforced concrete, with spans that reach up to 17 meters – and in the finishes, where maximum use is made of exposed concrete, exquisitely combined with granite cladding, bronze joinery and large windows that open onto the gardens. The latter are a fundamental part of the design, very present from the interiors, which blend in with the landscape, and in the program that stretches across the park in the form of platforms, paths, water features, sculptures and an outdoor amphitheatre, in an intervention that was unparalleled in Portugal in the 1950s.

Warsaw Train Station (Poland) | 1962-1963

The existing architectural ensemble, with simple lines and different areas linked together, is surrounded by a green area designed by the landscape architects Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles and António Viana Barreto, with lawns, trees, pools and even an open-air amphitheatre. The exterior of the museum is like a massive rectangular parallelepiped set on one of its longer sides where the use of concrete and granite creates a subtle chromatic equilibrium. It has a Temporary Exhibition Gallery on the lower floor which was planned in relation to each object collected by Calouste Gulbenkian, a small auditorium, a museum shop and cafeteria as well as the Art Library.

This building has been selected among the 100 most representative concrete buildings of the 20th century, visit the site 100fromthe20th to find out more.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.