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Curatorial text

The origins of Lisbon are lost in time, as proven by evidences from the Neolithicperiod dating back ten thousand years before Christ. Celts, Romans, Germans, Alans, Vandals, Suevi, Visigoths and Moors came through Libon, until the city was finally incorporated into the Kingdom of Portugal following its conquest by king Afonso Henriques in 1147.

While the temporary or permanent presence of these peoples is a tangible part of the city’s history, several theories and legends have intensified its aura of lingering mystery throughout the centuries, namely those regarding the origin of its pre-Roman name: Olisipo. The Phoenicians and even the Greek hero Ulysses are often mentioned.

Between fact, fiction and countless temporal layers, Lisbon has become a palimpsest cradled by an undulating topography along the Tagus. Travellers are spellbound and not even residents escape the city’s magical hold.

Lisbon’s long and eventful history also becomes apparent in the architecture that crystalizes the various circumstances and cultural moments the city has experienced.

Surprising in its technical excellence, this architecture remains nevertheless either inaccessible or unknown to most Lisbon dwellers.

From the São Jorge Castle hillsides to the seven hills, from Pombal’s Downtown to Belém, to the “new avenues” of Avenidas Novas to the Alvalade – Alameda axis, or Parque das Nações, Lisbon possesses a fascinating spectrum of built testimonies to different cultural periods. From Romanic to the native-Portuguese Manueline style, from Mannerism to Rococo, from Romanticism to contemporary, there is a vast heritage to explore.

In keeping with its three previous editions, Open House Lisboa proposes a tour of 70 such testimonies to the city’s architectural excellence, opening up to the audience at large places and sites that are usually not available or not known to them. And, although around three million tourists visit the city every year, this programme is essentially aimed at Lisbon dwellers.

Because in order to understand cities we must engage them from a distanced, overall perspective, the 2015 edition suggests this very outlook, through strategic vantage points located above Lisbon’s topography. This overall look is completed by visits to key areas representing urban planning milestones.

On yet another level, if visits to buildings and sites encompass a large temporal arch, the typologies selected are those that most significantly showcase the city’s identity, whether they are renovations and repurposed sites or original constructions: palaces, public buildings, infra-structure, engineering works, private homes, churches and gardens.

Integrated in the Open House Worldwide network, Open House Lisboa made its début in 2012 as a Lisbon Architecture Triennale initiative, following the original idea created by Victoria Thornton in 1992 for Open House London.

After the first Open House Porto in July, co-organized by the Triennale, Casa da Arquitectura and the Municipalities of Porto, Gaia and Matosinhos, our Open House 2015 will come full-circle in this October in Lisbon.

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Initiated 23 years ago in London, Open House is an event that looks to inform a wide audience about a great diversity of buildings and infrastructures that deserve attention, either by their architectural value, specific function or privileged location.Open House offers a unique (and free!) opportunity to visit spaces that normally are closed to the public, this way providing the construction of new forms of seeing and thinking the city. Launched in Lisbon in 2012, this Open House editions offers a list of 70 buildings, whose guided visits will be made, whenever possible, by the authors of the projects and other guests that are familiar with the works. Including projects by Álvaro Siza Vieira, Gonçalo Byrne, João Luís Carrilho da Graça or João Gomes da Silva, Open House is also an opportunity to raise awareness of lesser well-known buildings of equal interest.

From private houses to public buildings, from renovations to infrastructures, Open House Lisboa encourages a historical framework of the city, looking in the past for lessons on transformation and adaptability to respond to the demands of the present.

The Event

On the 10th and 11th of Octover, architecture will have its doors open. All are invited to discover, a totally free itinerary that ranges from private houses to theatres, palaces, monuments, museums, churches, studios, and more. The public is invited to create their own itinerary and explore architecture and the city through new eyes. What distinguishes this event and makes the experience special is the possibility to visit the spaces in different ways: see for yourself, accompanied by assistants or through the guided visits by authors and specialists of various areas.

In total there are 70 spaces from classics to contemporary architecture, illustrating the richness and architectural diversity of the Portuguese capital, this way promoting the proximity between citizens and architectural professionals.

How it Works

During the weekend of the 10th and 11th of October the entry of every space of the itinerary is free of charge.

The 70 spaces have different opening hours that can be found on the website, guide or map.

There are three types of visits:

Open Visit — visit the space without being accompanied, within the opening hours.;

Regular Visit — visit the space with the commentary of our Open House Lisboa team of volunteers;

Tour — visit to the space accompanied by the authors of the project or by an invited specialist

Most spaces don’t require booking, so visits are organized by order of arrival. However, because of their characteristics, some spaces demand pre-booking.

In each space, the team of volunteers present at the location will offer a guide and map of Open House Lisboa so you can have information, advice and help with regular visits.

Architecture will have its doors open: so come in and be part of this experience!


Inês Marques
Volunteer Programme
Susana Gaudêncio (coordinator)
Rúben Castro
Rute Paredes e Susana Pomba
Communication Design
Bit Basement
Van Condensed by Ricardo Santos
Inês Meneses
Director Board:
José Mateus, Chairman
Nuno Sampaio, Vice-Chairman
José Manuel dos Santos, Member
Maria Dalila Rodrigues, Member
Pedro Araújo e Sá, Member
Deputy Director:
Manuel Henriques
Management Assistant:
Helena Soares
Communication and Press
Sara Battesti (coordinator)
Cláudia Duarte
Raquel Guerreiro
Daniella Figueiredo
Isabel Antunes (coordinator)
Inês Marques
Liliana Lino
Sofia Baptista
Fundraising and Partnerships
Luísa Santos (coordinator)
Joana Salvado