We have recently completed a design scheme for a primary school and nursery in Lisbon; set within the neighbourhood of Xabregas by the shores of the Tagus.

The existing buildings are examples of Português Suave architecture, constructed in the mid 20thcentury during a period of educational reform. The school’s vernacular is uniform and repetitive; with two classroom blocks almost identical in appearance, scale and layout. Today the buildings are a reminder of Portugal’s dictatorship past but also of its prosperous present; continuing to be used as an educational facility for future generations.

The volumes are, however, in need of reorientation, unification and expansion. Renders and models reveal our design intentions for the site, which includes delicate additions that reference traditional styles, artists and motifs within Portugal and the locality.

The sites sloped topography already divides the school into defined levels that step back from the river. Our proposal aims to celebrate and better relate these planes, with new stairwells and connecting thresholds. Cross laminated timber will comprise the structural frames for extensions; being both locally sourced and quick to construct over the summer holidays. Green Viroc panelling will be implemented, mirroring the linear fins of neighbours whilst being distinctly contemporary in colour and texture.

The entranceways and access have been altered, with a reception area at the rear of the campus branching into a bridge that connects the existing buildings; improving wayfinding and circulation between lessons. A statement tower anchors the front elevation, signifying another access route and mirroring the language of an aedicula gatehouse around the corner.

A cloister wraps around a central revamped playground, framing stunning views of the river beyond, whilst protecting pupils from wind and sun exposure exacerbated by the south facing vantage. The gymnasium sits beneath this courtyard; a new multipurpose space with exposed trusses, reminiscent of a modern Pombaline structure.