Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument

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By Allie Weiss
Some serious greenery transforms a 1940 building in Lisbon, Portugal.

DC.AD and Victor Vicente return to Espelho de Água, a modernist building that hosted the 1940 Exhibition of the Portuguese World, to return it to its modernist roots and give it new life as a dining room and art gallery.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 1 of 6 - In 1940, a structure was built at Praça do Império, the site of that year's Exhibition of the Portuguese World, to serve as the restaurant for a celebration of the country's formation. Subsequent renovations had muddied its modernist style. DC.AD and Victor Vicente returned to the building, dubbed Espelho de Água, to restore and transform it into a lively dining room and art gallery.

In 1940, a structure was built at Praça do Império, the site of that year's Exhibition of the Portuguese World, to serve as the restaurant for a celebration of the country's formation. Subsequent renovations had muddied its modernist style. DC.AD and Victor Vicente returned to the building, dubbed Espelho de Água, to restore and transform it into a lively dining room and art gallery.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 2 of 6 - Inside, a large planting feature designed by Michael Hellgreen of Vertical Garden Design clads the kitchen block. "The idea behind the vertical garden was to bring a natural element to the space, since the overall look was very minimal," architect Duarte Caldas says.

Inside, a large planting feature designed by Michael Hellgreen of Vertical Garden Design clads the kitchen block. "The idea behind the vertical garden was to bring a natural element to the space, since the overall look was very minimal," architect Duarte Caldas says.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 3 of 6 - Overall, the plant wall covers over 1,200 square feet of surface area.

Overall, the plant wall covers over 1,200 square feet of surface area.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 4 of 6 - A custom bar sits underneath a retractable skylight. The material palette of the interior is simple, with white walls and concrete flooring.

A custom bar sits underneath a retractable skylight. The material palette of the interior is simple, with white walls and concrete flooring.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 5 of 6 - In the dining room, a mural by Sol LeWitt, painted in 1990, was uncovered. A circular theme, introduced in the original project, is reinforced by round lamps throughout the interior.

In the dining room, a mural by Sol LeWitt, painted in 1990, was uncovered. A circular theme, introduced in the original project, is reinforced by round lamps throughout the interior.

Vertical Gardens Spruce Up a Dusty Monument - Photo 6 of 6 - "The intervention was an exercise of looking back to the original project in order to restore as much as possible of the structure," Caldas says. "Besides removing internal walls and exterior add-ons, we closed and re-opened the framework in order to preserve the facade’s original proportions."

"The intervention was an exercise of looking back to the original project in order to restore as much as possible of the structure," Caldas says. "Besides removing internal walls and exterior add-ons, we closed and re-opened the framework in order to preserve the facade’s original proportions."

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