H+F Arquitetos insert an 'invisible' extension to the historic Museu do Ipiranga
by Jerry ElengicalMar 20, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Jincy IypePublished on : Feb 16, 2023
The historical and locally beloved Convento do Beato in Lisbon, Portugal, dates to the 15th century when it was conceived as a hermitage on Queen Isabel’s commission. A century later, Friar António da Conceição encouraged the construction of the Convent just over this hermitage, built and endowed uniqueness with its materiality of pristine white marble and hints of red jasper of vernacular origin. The current owners of Convento do Beato relay its beginnings—"the story goes that with just seven pennies, which they received as alms, they managed to kickstart the construction of the magnificent Convent, (which came to be) known as ‘Convento do Beato.' Soon after, the entire civil parish where the Convent was built became known as the Civil Parish of Beato.”
Towards the end of the 18th century, one of the Convent’s wings was adapted to be used as a Royal Military Hospital and in 1834, a merchant by the name of João de Brito acquired parts of the buildings, which had been partly damaged by a large fire, as a well as an earthquake. This intervention led to the genesis of the religious architecture being employed for industrial purposes, beginning with the installation of a modern manufacturing unit where a steam engine operated for the first time in Portugal.
Decades later with newer owners, and more cultural events taking place within the heritage building, Convento do Beato was classified as an 'Immovable Heritage of Public Interest' in 1984. “Being aware of the inestimable value that this venue adds to the national events market, it initiated a refurbishing process which led to the venue being recognised as the 'Best events venue in Portugal' in 2011 and 2014," they continue.
Owing to growing interests from foreign markets and demands in Lisbon, as well as its national and international recognition, the Larfa Properties Group acquired the Convento in 2018 along with the surrounding buildings, to implement an urban strategy to boost this area. Building on the fact of this cultural building being considered by many to be 'the best events venue in Europe,' the current owners shared their intention of continuing to invest in the building as a cultural centre. “For that reason, Convento do Beato is the target of a grand renovation project, where the improvement of its infrastructure allows for the building's stature and history to be matched with the best conditions for carrying out various types of events,” they explain.
The dozen or so buildings that make up the urban Convento do Beato complex retain their character of being conceived from varying eras, including the old church, what remains of the old convent, and several buildings constructed mainly for industrial use in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For a substantial number of years, the convent’s original cloister, chapter room, refectory, grand staircase, and library have all endured and adapted as an events centre.
The most recent remodelling of the Events Centre, developed by Lisbon-based architecture and urban design firm RISCO for clients Beato Lux, includes the renovation as well as the refurbishment of the remaining buildings for fresh uses, namely, the services in the old church architecture and housing in the old industrial buildings. The building's renovation also includes the construction of two car parks (an above-ground and an underground one), apart from various other outdoor spaces.
Work on the adaptive reuse project began in 2018, with a focus on improving and augmenting the comfort and safety of the thousands of people who throng the venue annually for events, parties, corporate meetings as well as product launches. In March 2022, the proposed interventions on the Events Centre reached completion, while the remaining work is expected to be finished in 2024. The continued remodelling and adapting have benefited from the building’s history of persisting for more than three decades, leveraging into an attractive events centre with a modern spatiality, with renewed potential for future flexibility.
The current owners of the cultural centre describe the resultant intervention— “Convento do Beato offers spacious and elegant spaces for unforgettable events. A historical site, (with) nine rooms and infinite possibilities—all in a single incomparable location, which stands out from its surroundings.”
We strive to understand the site, the natural elements, the local culture and the available resources. Projects tend to be rooted in the context and are hard to duplicate. All we take from one project to another is the experience we have assimilated. – RISCO
RISCO relays that the technical side of the refurbishment involved the replacement of the telecommunications, energy and security systems, a restoration of the kitchen and changes to window and door spans and railings, among other interventions. “And then, there was the more creative side to the work, which centred on the design of the administrative building, the courtyards, the new sanitary facilities, and certain special elements, such as the walkways for the library's emergency exits. These walkways express our approach to design perfectly when we are faced with valuable architectural heritage. We strive to make the most of the visual contemporaneity of the new elements, while avoiding clashing contrasts with the existing architecture," shares Tomás Salgado, site architect and general coordinator of RISCO.
The Portuguese architectural firm also shares how some 'surgical operations' were required for the library, foyer, refectory, and chapter room, to install the air-conditioning system, double the number of roof support trusses and alter window and door spans. “For this kind of work, we tried to be as discreet as possible,” relays Salgado.
The most crucial transformation of the Beato Convent Events Centre took place in the cloister, the heart of the space that hosts large-scale events. According to the architects, this area had been crowned by a pyramid-shaped roof and covered with acrylic panels, since the 1980s. This intervention failed to offer smoke clearance or thermal and acoustic insulation required for the typology the architectural heritage grew into, apart from not having an air-conditioning system, making it uncomfortable on sweltering hot days.
"The design for the new ceiling resulted from a long process of technical and formal research, made necessary by the desire to ensure that it was structurally light, technically efficient, and architecturally coherent with the cloister elevations," informs RISCO. The adopted design solution now consists of a system of orthogonally arranged trusses that form a set of 'honeycombs' that are theatrically illuminated from the skylights installed above.
The new skylights also provide thermal and acoustic insulation from the outside and open mechanically in the event of a fire. The geometric 'honeycombs' have been cladded with highly efficient sound absorbent material, which has greatly increased interior comfort and sound quality, while air-conditioning ducts built into the periphery of this structure ensure occupant comfort to the utmost degree.
"In this project, as in many others, we did not follow a single ‘recipe’—in some spaces we hide the new technical installations, in others we accept them as elements that add to the composition as a whole. In some cases, our language is decidedly contemporary, in others we take a more conservative approach, by replicating the design of the old carpentry work, masonry and metalwork,” Salgado explains.
"We believe that the character of cities is inextricable from the diverse architectural expressions and settlement over time. Therefore, in urban projects (such as these), we strive to create stimulating public spaces and lasting infrastructures that ensure the continuity of the sites, but can also accommodate new ideas and contradictions,” says RISCO.
The new ceiling of the Portuguese architecture introduces a spatial complexity that did not exist before within the interior design, vis a vis enhanced proportions of the cloister elevations that express a 'markedly contemporary language,' in tandem with respecting the existing heritage elements of the structure. This architectural value is further augmented by the contrast between the vertical planes, of worked stone, and the ceiling, and of smooth, white plaster, perhaps as a nod to the divinity of the original built purpose.
"This was an extensive and complex job that required frequent and ongoing adaptations as the work progressed. When we look at the results of our labours, we find that we have managed to incorporate everything that is required to run a modern events centre and do so without disfiguring spaces that are quite remarkable for their architectural and heritage value. This was always the main aim of our work,” RISCO concludes.
Name: Centro de Eventos do Convento do Beato / Beato Convent Events Centre
Location: Lisboa, Portugal
Built Area: 5,574 sqm
Year of completion: 2022
Client: Beato Lux
Architect: RISCO - Tomás Salgado
Design team: Tomás Salgado and Francisco Lebreiro (site architect); Ana Cruz (signage); João Almeida, Francisco Lebreiro, Inês Reis, Inês Melo, Inês Fonseca, Margarida Pires, André Luís, Duarte Silva, Peter Kornerup, Tiago Farinha, Karolinne Alves, Maria Martins and Vítor Alves
Landscape Architect: NPK
Structural Engineering: A2P
Electrical Engineering: Caon
Electrical Engineering: Dimensionar
Hydraulics and Acoustics Consultant: Sopsec
Fire Protection: Redifogo
Lighting Design: Filamento
by Anmol Ahuja Mar 27, 2023
Designed over the site of an abandoned 1950s petrol station in London, the building borrows its visual vocabulary from nearby railway arches and housing complexes.
by Jerry Elengical Mar 27, 2023
STIR interviews the author of Mies van der Rohe: The Collective Housing Collection about Mies' pioneering exploits in urban housing, for the late architect’s 137th birth anniversary.
by Pooja Suresh Hollannavar Mar 25, 2023
Antwerp-based Studio Okami creates a modern home wrapped in reflective aluminium, glass, and concrete.
by Salvatore Peluso Mar 24, 2023
Solar Futures: How to Design a Post-Fossil World with the Sun by designer Marjan van Aubel explores the past, present and future of solar energy.
make your fridays matterSUBSCRIBE
Don't have an account?Sign Up
Or you can join with
Please select your profession for an enhanced experience.
Tap on things that interests you.
Select the Conversation Category you would like to watch
Please enter your details and click submit.
Enter the code sent to
What do you think?