The extension of the Aquarium of Lisbon is the new entrance to the emblematic building that holds one of the richest and best aquariums of Europe, in the Parque das Nações, an area that was completely transformed during the 1998 Expo.
Commissioned in 2008 by the Parque Expo and the direction of
Oceanário, the new complex houses an auditorium, a restaurant / bar, a hall for temporary exhibitions, as well as the new entrance to the existing building, to which it is connected by a suspension bridge.
The proposal results in a contained irregular prism whose sides are differently inclined serving as a counterpoint to the existing building by the American Peter Chermayeff and relating to the square and surrounding buildings.
It is characterized by refined formal simplicity accompanied by an elaborate treatment of the exterior surface and the creation of dynamic spatial complexity.
Continuity with the surroundings is enhanced by the structure, suspended on seven concrete pylons, which seems to hover in the air creating a covered public space. The square enters the building ideally highlighting its remarkable urban qualities. The goal is to fit smoothly into a system that over the years has
proven its effectiveness for transforming a run-down area into an important place for Lisbon inhabitants and for tourists. The new architecture unfolds on three levels connected by a stair that is one of the most significant elements in defining interior space.
Located in the core of the building, it owes its formal evolution to the three height differences that characterize the building. It
connects the entrance hall to the basement, where there is an auditorium for 125 people, and with the upper level, which houses 600 square meters for exhibitions and the café/restaurant.
And the cafeteria is one of the best places for visitors. Here space seems to be defined by natural light which enters through the building's exterior surface which, from compact, thins out facilitating the osmosis between the interior and the surrounding cityscape.
The exterior skin is covered with more than 5,000 ceramic pieces, made in units of ceramic stoneware 50x50 cm, three-dimensional, distinguished by slight variations in color (6 different tons of white), like the skin of a fish or the rippling
surface of water touched by sunlight. The material, which thins out at the cafeteria to create multiple lighting effects, is the greatest technological challenge in the entire construction process. Created by Ceramica Cumella, prestigious artisanal industry linked to the working of ceramics in all its forms, it
is an experimental solution designed together with the architect Campos Costa for the occasion in an attempt to enhance the tactile and material characteristics of the architecture; a unique test of the relationship between producer and architect, in the search for innovative, rather than uniform, solutions.
The result is not the usual mechanical composition of standardized elements but a skin with powerful artistic qualities that transform the building into "a luminous, transcendent, wonderful environment."
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