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Work starts on Amanda Levete's Lisbon culture centre

Construction has started on AL_A’s 6,400m² EDP Foundation Cultural Centre in Lisbon

The scheme overlooking the river Tagus features 7,000m² of outdoor space and exterior steps, which will be covered at high tide.

The firm, which landed the job in early 2011, expects the project to complete in 2015.

Principal of AL_A, Amanda Levete, said: ‘In understanding EDP’s ambition for Lisbon, our design draws on the context of the site, creating both physical and conceptual connections to the waterfront and back to the heart of the city.’

AL_A’s EDP Foundation Cultural Centre project in Lisbon

AL_A’s EDP Foundation Cultural Centre project in Lisbon

Project data

Client: Fundação Energias de Portugal (EDP)
Programme: Arts & Technology Centre
Area: 6,400 m²
Completion: 2015
Architect: AL_A
Local Architect: Aires Mateus
Structure and Services: AFA Consult

Previous story (AJ 23.05.2011)

Amanda Levete bags Lisbon Cultural jackpot

The EDP Foundation Cultural Centre in Lisbon has appointed Amanda Levete Architects (AL_A) to design a new 8,000m² building overlooking the river Tagus.

Expected to complete in 2013, the €19 million scheme will act as the ‘gateway to the culturally rich area of Ajuda/Belém’ and features exterior steps which will be covered at high tide.

The building will be a venue for a mix of cultural events, exhibitions, talks and screenings

The architects’ view

‘The building will be a magnet, drawing people from the heart of the city to the panoramic views along the Tagus estuary. The currently neglected riverfront area will be activated, and the cultural centre will become one of Lisbon’s leading destinations.
This project is also about democracy. It is a building for the people - for the people of Lisbon, for cultural visitors and for tourists. It is a building for culture and leisure that defies the boundaries between public space and building. A simple and organic gesture creates a topographic form that blends into landscape
making a fluid and natural relationship between inside and outside - people move over as well as through the building.
The building creates an attractive landscape, stepping down into the river Tagus.

The proposed EDP Foundation Cultural Centre in Lisbon by Amanda Levete Architects

The proposed EDP Foundation Cultural Centre in Lisbon by Amanda Levete Architects (2011)


At high tide the steps are covered with water creating a constantly changing space that converses with the tide and the reflections from the water. The reflections play with the overhanging façade to give unexpected lighting effects both inside and out, capturing and magnifying the unique light qualities of this south facing site. An area of welcome shade is naturally created by the cantilevered structure.
The roof offers panoramic views towards the river as well as across the cultural area of Ajuda / Belém. In relationship to the Museu da Electricidade next to it the building is modest in height. It reflects the horizontal emphasis of the riverfront and is designed to have minimum visual impact on views from the city. Lisbon’s rich heritage of complex cobble stone patterns is subtlety reinterpreted and used to merge the existing materiality of the pathways with new public spaces that
speak of modernity.

Project data

Client: EDP
Programme: Cultural Centre
Area: 8,000 m²
Completion: 2013
Architect: AL_A
Principal: Amanda Levete
Project Associate: Maximiliano Arrocet (with project team: Alex Bulygin, Paula Vega, Dave Flynn, YooJin Kim, Ciriaco Castro Diez, Jurgen Strohmayer
Consultants: Structure ARUP scheme - AFA consulting

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