Planned by the ethnographer Pierre Verger, the cultural project of Casa do Benin is the result of a bilateral agreement to establish ties between Salvador and the Republic of Benin – where most of the slaves from Bahia came from –, by building a community center with galleries, teaching workshops, a restaurant, and apartments for the country’s representatives. The intervention is part of the master plan to redevelop the historic center of Salvador, and includes three 19th-century buildings located on a prominent corner site in Praça do Pelourinho.
When the refurbishment process began, the main building had already undergone a renovation in which the old structure, devastated by fire, was replaced with a concrete framework. Lina Bo Bardi, who considered this framework an excess, perforated the slabs at one side to create a triple height atrium, and cladded the columns with braided palm tree leaves. The other two buildings, in poorer state of conservation, were rebuilt maintaining the facade and renovating the interior with a system of prefabricated elements and striated concrete walls. The central area is a semipublic courtyard with palm trees, a pond, and a straw hut.