Tim de Graag | Architect | Desterro Lisboa
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Desterro Lisboa

residential, mixed-use


Rua almirante Reis, Lisboa

The ‘ Desterro Lisboa ’ project is located near the center of Lisbon. It will be designed next to the former hospital ‘Desterro’ which will be transformed into a museum and art gallery. The design of the new building fits in a small bend in Rua Almirante Reis, which is one of the main roads coming down to central Lisbon. The site has a pentagonal shape and contains a steep slope which connects two levels of the city. The program of this multifunctional residential building consists on a diversity of experimental apartments, a library, a gallery, a parking garage and a conference space.

1. Concentional apartments
2. Experimental apartments
3. Experimental apartments
4. Entrance & conference
5. Multimedia & conference
6. Playground & workspace
7. Restaurant & bar
8. Library & collective working space
9. Library & private working space
10. gallery
11. parking
12. Storage

The volume

The project started by studying pentagonal volumes which would fit inside the gap between the former hospital and an apartment building. The opportunity to connect Rua Almirante Reis with the higher street on top of the slope was considered important in terms of urban planning. While studying the volume it became clear that an inverted and open courtyard would be ideal to get more daylight, better spatial qualities and a good view from every apartment.

Studies on the volume

A ‘courtyard’

In fact this meant that a platform was created on the third floor. The first three floors of the building contain functions that do not necessarily need a lot of daylight. The parking garage, a part of the library and a gallery have been placed on one of those floors. The platform on the third floor can be seen as an open cross-shaped courtyard. This courtyard has been connected with Rua Almirante Reis by a staircase between the former hospital ‘Desterro’ and the new building. Four volumes of three floors rise around the courtyard and form an ensemble.

Three different housing typologies


The smallest volumes have been designed as apartment buildings. Two experimental apartment typologies were found after a study on conventional floor-plans. The library occupies the biggest volume and is positioned on the southeast corner of the building. The library contains private, semi-private and public working spaces where students, workers, families and children can all enjoy the contemporary library, without disturbing each other.

Material palette

The palette of materials used for the building is rather sober but warm. The facades and the courtyard of the building have been covered with a beige shaded Portuguese stone. The window frames have been planned in wood and the balustrades in black steel. White walls covered with plaster reflect the light from the roof windows and a wooden floor and wooden details finish the interior.

Desterro Lisboa
Year 2011
Surface 3000m2
Type new construction
Function multifunctional residential complex