Location: Coimbra, Portugal.

Architect: Gonçalo Byrne Arquitectos.

Two thousand years ago, a Roman Criptoporticum was built in Coimbra to contain the Central forum of the Roman City of “Aeminiun”. It has since been used for various purposes, including stocking warehouses, street shops, attached housing, and horse stables. In 1910, it was converted into a city Museum, featuring a XVI century renaissance collection and a precious “Jean de Rouen” renaissance chapel. The Criptoporticum Museum in Coimbra has been transformed into a museum with two adjacent empty plots for Administration offices and Technical Services, infrastructure and vertical accessibility. This new volume underlines the original platform level of the ex-Forum, creating an intense dual visual relationship with the historic city and the Fillipo Terzi renaissance portico. The main entrance keeps the original gate to the ex-bishop’s palace and its central courtyard as an essential void. The external façade is strongly enhanced in its urban intermediation, separated from the adjacent new building by a public staircase. The contemporary experience of the visit reveals the artifact as a condenser of the surrounding city.

Photo credit: Rupert Eden Photography.