Paula rêgo (Lisbon, 1935), painter, draftswoman and engraver, is one of the most noteworthy figures of contemporary Portuguese art; her work reveals the influence of Lucien Freud, Arshile Gorky or Balthus. She was trained at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, the city where she lives since 1976. When the artist decided to donate several of her works to the municipality of Cascais, in the coast of Estoril, a project was launched to create a museum space baptized as Casa das Histórias, in reference to the narrative style of the artist’s large canvasses. Paula Rêgo herself chose Eduardo Souto de Moura as architect.
The site, chosen by the architect, was a fenced forest with a clearing in the middle, corresponding with the old courts of a tennis club that had disappeared during the Carnation Revolution. Taking into consideration the terrain and the existing trees – eucalypti, almond and pine trees, especially – as essential elements of the project, the different volumes that make up the building configure four wings of different lengths, subdivided in the interior into sequential halls placed around a more elevated central volume where the large hall of temporary exhibitions is located. The interior, in neutral tones and paved with natural bluish marble of Cascais, has 750 square meters of exhibition halls, a shop-bookstore, a cafeteria open to a luxuriant garden and an auditorium with capacity for 200 people, aside from technical and service rooms.
The series of volumes that the museum configures performs as a mineral positive of the negative drawn by the treetops. This interplay of the yin and yang between artifact and nature helped when choosing the exterior material: red and textured concrete to complement the green of the forest. So that the building would not be a neutral sum of boxes, a hierarchy was established introducing two large truncated pyramids like lanterns at the entrance axis, and that mark the location of the store-library and the cafeteria respectively. These pieces make reference to historical works of Portuguese architects, like the chimney of the Alcobaça monastery or the kitchens of Sintra Palace, though they are not foreign either to some engravings by Boullée or the steep roofs of the palaces of the Lusitanian Raul Lino. All the permanent exhibition halls have openings towards the exterior, providing views to the garden that strike a contrast with the artificial and abstract gaze of contemporary art.
Câmara Municipal de Cascais
Eduardo Souto de Moura
Sérgio Koch, Ricardo Prata (coordinación de proyecto project coordination); Bernardo Monteiro, Diogo Guimarães, Junko Imamura, Kirstin Schätzel, Paula Mesquita, Manuel Vasconcelos, Maria Luís Barros, Pedro G. Oliveira, Rita Alves, Sofia Torres Pereira, Susana Monteiro, Paula Mesquita
AFA (estructuras, fontanería y saneamiento structural and hydraulic engineering); Raul Serafim e Associados (electricidad electrical engineering); Paulo Queirós de Faria (instalaciones mechanical engineering)
Luís Ferreira Alves, Fernando Guerra