Exhibition the Lisbon that could have been

The backdoor of Lisbon now open to the public

Lisbon is trending: it welcomes an ever-growing number of visitors, international awards and distinctions, which elect the city as one of the very best European destinations. Nevertheless, the city was already well-regarded in the 16th century by those who visited it, given the “beauty of its geography and the liveliness near the Tagus”, but it lacked an “architectural monumentality”. These words introduce the exhibition the Lisbon that could have been, held at Pavilhão Preto of Pimenta Palace/Lisbon Museum. Curated by Antonio Miranda and Raquel Henriques da Silva, it unveils a Lisbon which tried to be “grandiose”.

Gathering about 200 pieces, they all convey the story of a city that is depictured through the dialogue established between architecture and engineering. It displays projects from the 16th century until nowadays, all part of Lisbon’s City Archive and private collections, and that show a portion of what happens behind the scenes in Lisbon. The exhibition finds support in a laborious research work, anchored in the multitude of pieces that were found, but also in newspaper clippings from the time, hence crossing the city’s history, retelling it. Based on what has remained after centuries burdened with changes: plans that didn’t make the cut, others that have perished or ceased to make sense at all. The scale, often unadjusted (or not), promotes the (much) expected monumentality.

The exhibition has its focus placed on themes that were and continue to be an object of study and analysis, such as the waterfront (from Campo das Cebolas to Alcântara), Avenida da Liberdade, Restauradores, Praça do Rossio, Martim Moniz, among other places that work as the city’s reference points. They also show a whole array of other projects which could have totally changed the city’s landscape: the set of plans focused on building the suspension bridge over the Tagus river, the current 25 de Abril bridge; projects that aimed to modernize the city by multiplying its lanes, based on an iron-centered architecture; the urban redevelopment focused on recovering the Margueira shipyard, one that fostered a new linkage between the river’s south bank and the rest of the city of Lisbon, the Contemporânea studio (MGD + EJV); among others.

Some other is Lisbon is then disclosed, one presented by the exhibition’s commissioners, and also one which exposes the speed by which the city mandatorily modifies itself, in which its themes cover several centuries. It is the search for a depiction of an everlasting contemporaneousness and monumentality, which perpetuates itself solely by being printed on paper.

the Lisbon that could have been – Lisbon Museum/Pimenta Palace– Pavilhão Preto – until June 25, 2017 – Entrance €3

Lisbon (1989). Graduated in Architecture Studies (2012) and Masters in Architecture (2015), both from the Autonomous University of Lisbon. Postgraduate in Art Curation (2017) by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the New University of Lisbon. She works as an architect in an atelier in Lisbon.

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