Egyptian Embassy in Lisbon features geometric bas-relief patterns on facade

Designed by Promontorio Architects, the new Embassy of Egypt in Lisbon features robust concrete walls covered with bas-relief patterns inspired by traditional Egyptian motifs.

Images courtesy Promontorio Architects / João Morgado

Located in Lisbon’s affluent Restelo district, where many of the neighbouring villas from the 1940s and 50s have been converted for diplomatic use, the embassy was designed to fulfill the security criteria while incorporating symbolic references to Egypt’s culture and history within the architecture.

The design mostly consists of a solid concrete mass that lends an impenetrable feel while alluding to Egypt’s long history of stone construction.

“The building is essentially a monolith composed of three thick slabs combined with an interweaving mass of patterned walls, with bas-reliefs discreetly evocative of ancient Egyptian geometric motifs,” said the architects.

“Following the classical post-and-lintel system, the walls are interrupted at specific positions to form windows, while on the upper floor, each corner forms a balcony by receding and revolving from one angle to the next.”

The patterned sections of the facade are made of pre-cast panels of anthracite-pigmented concrete that accentuate the overall mass of the building.

Intended to be enlivened by the way light casts across the exterior, the dark hue and repeat pattern create a homogeneous surface that contrast with the lightness of the bronze-coated stainless steel window frames.

Inside the building, public areas feature extensive timber panelling and flooring made from large slabs of white stone. The materials were selected for their ability to age well, said the architects, as they will be subjected to continuous use.

The atrium’s skylight, which hangs above a Babelesque stairway, allows light to filter down through a perforated Islamic-patterned screen, producing a kaleidoscopic pattern of light and shadow that changes throughout the day.

Completed in 2017, the project spans 1,359m2 while the entire site measures at  1,510m2.

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