Lisbon – some Brutalist architecture

Admittedly Brutalist architecture isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but when it’s done well I love it, and Lisbon has some of the most beautiful decorative examples of the genre that I’ve ever seen.

The Palácio da Justiça (Palace of justice) at 22 Rua Marquês de Fronteira in the Azul neighbourhood was designed by the architects Januário Godinho and João Andresen in 1962 and built in 1970.

Of course, this being Portugal, ceramic tiles have to feature somewhere and the work of three modernist potters can be seen under the entrance porticos.

Jorge Barradas designed four panels, executed in 1969, entitled “A Justiça”, “O Juíz de Fora”, “O Juíz de Fora” The Code” and “The Balance”.

Júlio Resende created six panels, alluding to “Wisdom”, “Truth”, “Fortaleza”, “Serenity”, “Temperance” and “Prudence”.

Querubim Lapa made six panels, entitled “Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise”, “the Law that enables Peace between Men and their glories”, “Creation of a Code”, “the practice of Justice supported by Law”, “Spirit of Order” and “Temperance”.

A very fruitful hunting ground for Brutalist buildings is the campus of the Universidade de Lisboa. I initially came to see the building housing the
Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (ANTT), the National Archives of Torre do Tombo, which has been the central archive of the Portuguese State since the Middle Ages.

The current home of the archive is basically a concrete bunker, designed to protect over six hundred years of Portuguese culture from the threats of war, earthquakes, fire and other potential disasters. It’s named after the original “Torre do Tombo”, the Castle of São Jorge, which housed the archive from 1378 to 1755.

While I was taking photos, four inquisitive students who were passing jokingly told me that the remains of Eusebio (the famous football player) were kept there! (Not true, he’s in the National Pantheon in the Church of Santa Engrácia in Campo de Santa Clara).

My favourite features are the gargoyles circling the top of the building which are carved out of two metre square stone blocks.

My next favourite building on the campus was Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE) aka the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, located on Avenida das Forças Armadas. It was designed by Raul Hestnes Ferreira in 2002 which probably makes it more Postmodern than Brutalist, although the influence is very apparent. Of particular note is his use of light and shadow in defining the space. Some internal shots here.

Nearby is the (Rationalist?) Faculdade de Direito, aka Academic Association of the Faculty of Law of Lisbon. It was built in 1958 after the design of architect Pardal Monteiro.

There were a few other bits and pieces on the campus that caught my eye.

I also visited Igreja do Sagrado Coração de Jesus near the Marquês de Pombal metro station. Although hard to distinguish as a church it was designed as such by architects Nuno Portas and Nuno Teotónio Pereira between 1962 and 1970.

There was a service going on when I was there so I didn’t see much of the interior but it looked very bare, perhaps making it a bit too brutal even for me!

Another location for modernist concrete buildings is the Jardim Gulbenkian, a park containing a modern art gallery and other constructions paid for by an oil maganate. I walked through at dusk so didn’t get many good photos but I’ll go back for the park and the gallery.

These and many more Brutalist locations can be found on my map. Hopefully I have caught the most interesting ones in this post.

A bit of Postmodern architecture next!

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