G. Byrne - Maritime traffic coordination and control centre, Lisbon, Portugal


Auditorium, Bar,

Architect: Gonçalo Byrne
Client: APL: Lisbon Harbour Authority
Structures: A2P Consult
Plants: Luis Gonçalves, José Galvão Teles, Manuel José
Builders: Ensul, Empreendimentos Norte Sul
Location: Lisbon harbour
Total surface area: 2,280 m2
Project dates: 1997-1999
Construction dates: 1999-2001

G. Byrne - Maritime traffic coordination and control centre, Lisbon, Portugal Perched on the end of a long, thin wharf enclosing the sheltered cove of the docks, the new building has a rectangular plan in which functions are distributed over 6 storeys in such a way as to emphasise the vertical component of the construction: the ground floor is simply an entrance hall and archives, while the first floor houses leisure facilities (a bar and rest area), the second floor is for social functions with a meeting room and auditorium, the fourth floor houses the control and safety area, and the fifth and sixth are for VTS control and command.

But the truly innovative thing about the building's conception is its section: the rectangular ribbon of the stairway connecting the building vertically, the building's centre of gravity, is singularly contradicted by the slope of the outer walls, which thrusts the façades of the tower into a sort of dynamic architecture which is entirely projected out over the river.

This artifice visually slims the proportions of the building, which would otherwise be very classical, giving it a daring feeling of overbalancing, as if it were challenging the force of gravity that underlies the Vitruvian principle of firmitas: the sensation is accentuated by the way in which the walls are divided into horizontal strips of different heights and materials.

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