LISBON 14.2.2014


During the day, the soothing cool of tiered gardens; in the evening, the pleasant warmth of a sun-heated terrace and the scent of port wine in the nostrils.
Some head for Vasco da Gama’s homeland to discover the secrets of fado and savour port wine. Others seek the adrenaline rush on the towering waves of the Atlantic. The action of all the 365 days of this year will be here, for it was named the best holiday destination of 2013. Portugal. With its westernmost capital of Europe, Lisbon, it is a cultural volcano, and a place of dialogue with nature.

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The Fountain – this is the original Arabic name of Lisbon’s oldest district Alfama given to it by the Moors. Apart from sections of Santa Maria de Belém, it was the only part of the city that survived a series of natural disasters and retained its original architectural beauty. Its steep rocks that once shielded Alfama from the elements are nowadays an ideal place for residence. Narrow alleys which offer shelter from the sun heat and stairs stretching along steep streets are dreamy postcard images of the district and the city at large.

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This picturesque spot was discovered by the group Building with Art, which chooses valuable properties in Portugal in order to restore them in singular ways. The challenge of revitilizing a building at Travessa do Patrocínio 5 has been taken up by three Portuguese architects Luís Rebelo de Andrade, Tiago Rebelo de Andrade, and Manuel Cachão Tojal, who invested the three-storey structure with cultural traditions and the verticalism typical of Moorish buildings. Constrained by limited spaces, they designed a vertical garden taking up as much as 40 per cent of the façade. Thus, they adjusted their building concept to meet one of the postulates of ecological cities, consonant with the idea that it is time we treat nature as a lifelong partner. The vegetation featured in the façade is made up of 4,500 plants representing 25 Iberian-Mediterranean species.

This 100 square meter carpet gives off a different aroma on each floor. The profusion of plants used may give one pause about maintaining such a thicket, but it actually requires little watering.

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The integration between the floors is a tribute to the district itself. A single flight of stairs runs from the ground floor up to the very roof, intersecting the subsequent levels very much like on the streets of Alfama. The ground floor houses service areas, the living quarters are located on the first floor, while the second includes a social area along with a kitchen and a dining room. The roof serves as a terrace with an unusual, narrow pool, more suitable for the crawl stroke than the butterfly, but certainly ideal for sipping portwine and drifting to the sounds of fado.

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