Musealization of the Archaeological Site of Praça Nova of São Jorge Castle

The Musealization of the Archaeological Site of Praça Nova of São Jorge Castle, in Lisbon, a project by Portuguese architect Joao Luís Carrilho da Graca apart from being an exceptional project has also received the Piranesi Prix de Rome 2010 international prize. But, who could describe this project better than the architect himself? The following text is part of the text published in Pirenesi Prize application.

The excavation of the Castle’s Praça Nova, begun in 1996, uncovered remnants of its successive periods of inhabitation, leaving the exposed archeological site open to an intervention of protection and musealization. […] The first action was its clear delimitation with a precise incision: a wall of corten steel to contain the higher perimetrical surface.

The same precision was used in the inserted steps, landings and seating, setting them apart from the excavated walls. The canopy for the protection of the XI Century Muslim domestic structures and its frescoes was an opportunity to reproduce its spatial experience. Conjectural, abstract and scenographic, the white walls float above the visible foundations, touching the ground on mere 6 points, while its covering filters the sunlight.

Underlying the whole site, the evidence of the Iron Age settlement is exposed and protected through a volume that invites the curiosity for the observation of its interior, leading the visitor around the excavated pit to the point where both the physical and time distance of the exhibited structures is made obvious.

Photography: Fernando Guerra+Sergio Guerra, Duarte Belo