project for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and Museum, inaugurated in 1969,
was the result of a limited competition that took place from, 1959 to 1960 between
three teams of architects. The ambitious and detailed specifications being based
on the presupposition that the new building was to serve as “a perpetual homage
to the memory of Calouste Gulbenkian, and its lines were to reflect the essential
features of his character – concentrated spirituality, creative force and simplicity
The project had to take into consideration various types of installations to house the museum, auditoriums and library and also the administrative and technical services of the foundation. The site chosen was the Parque de Santa Gertrudes in Palhavã, Lisbon (the present site).
the three solutions jointly presented that of the team made up of the architects
Ruy Jervis d’Athouguia, Pedro
Cid and Alberto Pessoa was
selected as fulfilling the requirements of the commission to produce a sober,
dignified building in a unified architectural setting. A large number of specialists
in various areas worked on the project co-ordinated by the winning team.
The remaining two projects were by an architectural team made up of Arnaldo Araújo, Frederico George and Manuel Laginha, and the other by Formosinho Sanches, Arménio Losa and Pádua Ramos.
existing architectural ensemble, simple in line with different areas ably linked
together, is surrounded by a green area designed by the landscape architects Gonçalo
Ribeiro Telles and António Viana Barreto, with lawns, trees, pools and even an
open-air amphitheatre. The exterior or the museum is like a massive rectangular
parallelepiped set on one of its longer sides where the use of concrete and granite
creates a mellow chromatic equilibrium. Planned in relation to each object collected
by Calouste Gulbenkian, on the lower floor it has a Temporary Exhibition Gallery,
a small auditorium, a museum shop and cafeteria as well as the Art Library.
A defining mark in Portuguese museum architecture, the edifice of the Museum is organised round two gardens with numerous tall picture windows that enable the visitor to enjoy Nature and Art.
A noteworthy example of the latest trends in modern Portuguese architecture of the 1960s, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation was awarded the Valmor Prize for Architecture in 1975, and classified "National Monument" in 2010.