A silent urban intervention in the heart of Lisbon

Architectural firm Domitianus Arquitetura realizes for the municipality of Lisbon a new access route to the Basilica da Estrela, a former convent of nuns now national monument.

In the historic centre of Lisbon, Domitianus Arquitetura has completed an urban redevelopment project in an area adjacent to the Basilica da Estrela, a Catholic temple and former Carmelite nunnery considered a national monument. The complex was planned at the end of the Eighteenth century by order of Queen Maria I of Braganza following the birth of her son. Still, the Peninsular War and the liberal struggles imposed the interruption of the construction of the building, which remained unfinished. Following a late baroque style, the project featured an asymmetrical composition: with its dome and double bell towers, the Basilica design also included a royal square with a statue of the Queen to reinforce its monumentality. The north wing of the convent and the square were never built, replaced by an exotic garden.

Domitianus Arquitetura, Accessible path to the Basilica da Estrela, Lisbona, Portogallo, 2020. Photo Inês d’Orey

The Portuguese firm’s project, commissioned by the Factory of the Parish Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa, consists of the construction of small secondary ramps to create barrier-free access, the renovation of some bathrooms for the disabled and a long public bench. Taking advantage of the building’s unfinished state, the firm approached the Basilica materially, making the additions with blocks of Lioz stone. “We decided to use the same stone as the Basilica to design the new stereotomy,” architect in charge Paulo Tormenta Pinto told us. “The Lioz stone blocks allowed us to create an analogy with the pre-existing architecture. We were trying to design something timeless. That’s why we consider the intervention as a ‘silent space’.” The majesticTipuana tipu trees, already existing, were integrated into the project to suggest a colonnade that follows the new architectural promenade.

Domitianus Arquitetura, Accessible path to the Basilica da Estrela, Lisbona, Portogallo, 2020

“We are always very committed to understanding the historical change of sites,” continues Pinto. “Our mission as architects is to add something to a metabolic process that began long before us. This dialogue with time is critical to the quality of the new interventions.”

Architecture studio:
Domitianus Arquitetura
Paulo Tormenta Pinto
In collaboration with:
Rosa Maria Bastos and João Maria Costa
Miguel Villar
Catarina Assis Pacheco
Rúben Sobral
João Fernandes and Nuno Fernandes
Factory of the Parish Church of Nossa Senhora da Lapa
Miguel Ponce Dentinho
Lisbon, Portugal

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