Matérias do Tempo
Open House Lisboa 23
Year – 2023
Institution – Trienal de Arquitetura de Lisboa
General Coordination – Carolina Vicente
Coordination Support – Beatriz Caetano Bento
Production – André Rosa, Tamyra Nogueira
Communication Coordination – Sara Battesti
Location – Lisbon, Portugal
Curators – Albuquerque Goinhas, Cristina de Mendonça, Nuno Griff
Walking Tours - Claudia Taborda, Gabriela Albergaria, José Manuel Castanheira, Robert Panda
Audio Tour – Anabela Mota Ribeiro
Photography - Carlos Costa, EMBAIXADA, Fernando Guerra, Hugo David, Ricardo Oliveira Alves, Trienal de Arquitetura de Lisboa
As long-time Lisbon inhabitants, perhaps we have never really looked at the buildings that shape us daily as the living entities that they are too. But what if we do, if we realise that they too have a before and an after. Where were they before they were? And where do they go when we abandon them?
This edition proposes an architectural journey to explain the birth, life, decline and rebirth of the buildings we inhabit, showing that if we look carefully, most of these buildings have already had several lives, several deaths and several architects who have rescued them, making it practically impossible to find a clean slate anywhere today.
The city as a complex ecosystem of buildings, uses and flows, has always allowed cohabitation between various stages of the life cycle: Voids, Construction, Buildings, Ruins.
The expectant emptiness, the ongoing constructions, the inhabited buildings, the disused spaces. Everything is city: the apparent perenniality of built matter is a false perception; everything moves in time, it is either becoming or decaying; just as in biology, there is no neutrality. A cyclical renewal of uses, spaces inhabited continuously for over 500 years, a long chain of generations, with alterations, repairs, transformations and extensions, palimpsests of time and matter.
Neighbourhood by neighbourhood, street by street, in every single wall, highly dependent on the distribution and concentration of the parts of the whole, making the city the physical expression of our collective identity.
Speaking about what we do not see, what does not exist, what is not available, what we have not yet been able to build. Emptiness is the basis of dream and desire, the space of ambition, of the Future, of possible collective futures.
It is also usually a problem in the Present. It is an irresolution, a wasted heritage, an unknown location or an error in the system. Emptiness is a space of political impulse par excellence, it is usually a powerful ensemble of numerous things, positive and negative.
Only perceptible when it bothers us, the physical transformation of matter is of enormous importance from all points of view. Whether we are talking about the quality of a neighbourhood, the future sustainability of a country or the viability of an investment. Everything matters here, it is the moment when, slowly, ideas are transformed into matter for everyday experience.
A long battle, replete with armies, equipment and strategists.
They are that which we know best, we are born in one, inhabit several, and in them we work, learn, teach, love, appreciate art or food, talk to God. For everything and anything we invented buildings.
However, we do not always see them, in our routines we take their support for granted and perhaps even accept their defects without questioning. It is worth recalling Saramago, “If you can see, look. If you can look, observe”.
Iconic and much romanticised images in European culture, they have always possessed a poetic and oneiric dimension that the curators have not neglected. The choice here is more pragmatic though. We talk about spaces in disuse, buildings where the current use is clearly insufficient compared to their full potential. Spaces that, even if they are partially inhabited or occasionally used, are clearly underused and abandoned.