Contemporary Art Museum – Of the Serralves Foundation

Oporto, Portugal


Located in the Serralves Park, the Museum is in direct dialogue with the Serralves Villa and the surrounding gardens. In the place of a monumental facade, the architecture of the museum is defined by a harmonious articulation between different architectonic elements in relation with the gently sloping terrain where it is sited.  The Building area is 12,700 m2 and the total investment is about 4.300.000€. The structure of this building is constituted by resistant reinforced concrete elements or composite steel and concrete.

The building is erected in a longitudinal manner from North to South, with a central body divided into two wings, separated by a patio to create a U-shaped structure. An L-shaped construction creates a second patio that connects with the main building and serves as the main access to the Museum, with connection to the underground car park and gardens. 

The Museum has 14 exhibition galleries distributed over three floors. The upper floor is the location of the restaurant, Education studio, and Multipurpose room. A terrace leading from the restaurant provides expansive views of the Serralves Park. The entrance floor provides access to the exhibition galleries and bookshop. The lower floor houses galleries, the Library, the Auditorium and a cafeteria. Access to these spaces from the Museum entrance is facilitated via a square-shaped atrium located next to the reception, complemented by a cloakroom and information area. 

The structural on the whole building is based on the interconnection wall (vertical planes) which support plates, which will sometimes have a considerable size. To overcome these gaps were used varied mixed solutions, in particular, using the technical spaces above the false ceiling, beams were used and the soil consists of lattice beams and slabs of concrete uprights.
In the case of garage slabs rely on its interior pillars and in the surrounding walls. As for the foundations as chosen by a direct solutions of the general foundation of the building.

The structure of the building is in concrete and steel, with an exterior covering of granite and painted plaster. Locally sourced materials are used for the building’s roof covering. Inside the building, the floor is in oak and marble, walls and ceilings are constructed of painted and gypsum plaster. Ceilings heights range from 2.88 to 9.50 metres (average 6.20 metres).

The fluid disposition of the spaces of the Museum offers the visitor multiple itineraries and points of view suited to the changing programme of exhibitions and related activities. Characteristic of the architecture is the succession of long perspectives through the building and to the exterior in the form of visual ‘escape routes’ to the gardens. In the interior natural and artificial lighting are combined.


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Location: Oporto, Portugal
Client: Serralves Foundation
Year: 1994
Area: 12 669 m2