Espaço Espelho d’ Água
New space in Lisbon offers cultural connections with cuisine, art and music.
The emblematic Espelho de Água building has been renovated and is the setting for the Espelho d'Água Space project.
In 2012 the Lisbon Tourism Association (ATL) held a public tender to operate part of the Espelho de Água building, which is located in Belém, facing the River Tagus. The space comprises 1,200m2 and was first built in 1940 for the Exhibition of the Portuguese World.
The central idea of the winning project was to bring contemporary cultures from the different regions visited by Portugal on its sea voyages to the spot where, five centuries ago, Portuguese people set off for the world.
Following the renovation works, the Espelho d'Água Space has emerged with a concept that is in tune with the original architectural identity of the building. Its aim is to house gastronomy, a gallery for art and design, music, cinema and video and other forms of cultural expression.
The architectural project was designed in an earlier stage by Vitor Vicente for the company Ecobuilders.
It preserved the building's spirit of modernity and respected the principles of the era in which it was built.
In a second phase the project had the Detail Design of Duarte Caldas - Architecture / Design, that inclusively created the light and fixed furnitures design.
The area for food lies at the heart of the whole project. It provides a café and bar with light meals and a restaurant serving a range of cuisines. The renowned Brazilian chef Ana Soares, of Mesa III Consultoria in São Paulo, was asked to devise the menu. And with great dedication, Ana drew inspiration from ingredients and recipes from Portugal, Brazil and other countries, including Angola and Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé e Príncipe in Africa, and India, China and Timor in the East.
She used them (re)create a fusion menu that has dishes and flavours with a unique concept.
In the relationship between the space and the arts, several artistic pieces stand out, including traditional Portuguese paving based on a design by the Angolan artist Yonamine in the building's main entrance.
On the main wall of the restaurant, in the most intimate area of the room, there is a 3.65m x 6.51m mural by the American artist Sol Lewitt (from 1990). The panel was uncovered during the renovation works and restored by the company Argo.
The kitchen section is entirely covered by a vertical garden that includes 60 species of tropical plants, designed by Michael Hellgren of Vertical Gardens. Michael created a garden that covers almost 100m2 of the wall.
The designers Pedro Ferreira and Rita João - of the Pedrita Studio - took on the challenge of participating in the team as interior design consultants.
The artist Pedro Campelo produced a photographic record and captured the restoration of the Sol Lewitt piece using stop motion animation. Pedro also used painting to transform 6 trolleys from an old hotel for use in cultural activities and the restaurant.
The Espelho d'Água Space includes an incubator for businesses linked to the creative industries and artistic creation through partnerships with universities, cultural institutions, and private companies. For this purpose, four rooms are available for artistic residences, as well as a workshop for production, exhibition and sale on site.
Within the multicultural concept, there is also a shop with designer pieces and products sourced all over the world, including: books, records, decorative items and textiles. They will be on sale so customers can fully enjoy the experience even after they leave.
This is an exciting project that uses this site as the setting for many forms of contemporary cultural expression from the countries with which Portugal has historical relationships; this is the challenge that the Espelho d'Água Space has taken on.
Address: Av. Brasília, S/N (next to the Padrão dos Descobrimentos) 1400-038 | LISBOA
Contact details: +351 21 301 0510
Opening hours: 10am to 1am | open every day