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City , Museum, Lisbon

Part 2 Project 2000
Kin Chi Tommy Lee
University of Bath, UK
City Museum of Lisbon

When we visit a museum, the learning process does not cease once we set foot at the exit. Since we are informed and educated by the museum, we re-observe and re-discover the outside world through the museum experience. The traditional nature of the museum is re-examined in this design project.

The city museum is designed as a route that aims to pull visitors in, inform them and then re-direct them back towards the living city. Along this route visitors are told a story, articulated by its space to represent the history and the character of the city. Thus, when visitors leave the museum and immerse themselves into the city once more they will become aware of its details and spaces in a new way. Through this exploration, on returning to the city itself they will experience it anew - as a reflection on the museum experience.

The history of a city is celebrated in its fabric, not inside the glass cases of a museum.

Kin Chi Tommy Lee

This year's 'final year' at Bath began in the dying months of the final year of the 20th century in Lisbon, a city in the dictatorship - through a process of increasing integration process of resurrecting itself - after years of impoverished with a broader European community.

At this critical moment in Lisbon's transformation, it seemed particularly apt that the role of architecture in this process should be investigated from an 'external' perspective. Which models should be employed in the re-configuration of a damaged city in urban design terms? Formal? Spatial? Should architecture act as a catalyst, or is its most valuable role as a passive reflection of the culture that drives it? The question of who we build for becomes crucial. A local community? Some sub-culture within the national demographic? Tourists? As visitors ourselves, to disengage our thinking from this last group is a particular challenge.

As 'outsiders' building in an (initially at least) unfamiliar city, it becomes even more critical than ever to address these questions, to validate the whole enterprise by establishing a position in relation to these, and other issues. How we do respond to the climate, to unfamiliar urban contexts which relate to a tradition of building not our own? To what extent is the physical context which we encounter an expression of a social structure into which our interventions must settle?

These challenges were explored through a fascinating sequence of projects, made unique by their relation to one another and to Lisbon's particular topography; from a campus for learning resurrected from a dying garden, to a sequence of buildings targeting moments of decay within the ancient Alfama; from an international train station reconnecting Lisbon's dockside to its urban hinterland, to a jewel like house for Fado at a gate in the ancient hilltop fortification; from a project for a church and community centre exploring the contemporary role of the most ancient of institutions, to a centre for film and photography locating 20th century traditions in an historic neighbourhood. Locations varied from the most discrete (below ground in the castle escarpment) to the most flamboyant (a prow of land visible from almost the entire city). Buildings emerged which took imperforate hillsides and found ways to make them permeable, introducing new ways to move both visitors and residents through the city and integrating new institutions seamlessly into the existing fabric through rich sequences of spaces, ranging from the intimate and poetic to the expansive and dynamic.

In the end, it is this learning process that matters, and the schemes, in all their diversity, reveal a level of integrity and care which speaks for itself.

David Shalev, Debbie Kuypers, Jim Hutcheson

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