Foundation Livraria Lello / Álvaro Siza Vieira

Architects: Álvaro Siza Vieira
Area: 340 m² (4,305 ft²)
Year: 2024
Photography: A Caixa Negra / Felipe Braga, Alexandre Delmar
Landscape Architect: Sidónio Pardal
Program / Use / Building Function: Headquarters, Community Hub, Monastery
City: Porto
Country: Portugal

Foundation Livraria Lello has inaugurated the requalified Monastery of Leça do Balio, designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira, in Leça do Balio, Portugal. Completed in 2024, this project features an extension and multipurpose nucleus open to the community, promoting a robust public program and emphasizing the importance of misinformation awareness.

Foundation livraria lello / álvaro siza vieira

Foundation Livraria Lello announces the opening of the newly requalified Monastery of Leça do Balio, its headquarters, and a multipurpose nucleus open to the community. Acquired in 2016 by the Lionesa Group, the Monastery features an extension designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Álvaro Siza. The Foundation will inaugurate the Monastery with a public program, including “Act the Thought,” an exhibition on misinformation and its human costs, highlighting stories of personalities such as Salman Rushdie, Malala Yousafzai, and Ai Wei Wei, along with an installation by JR’s global art project, Inside Out. The exhibitions will be open to the public from June 22 to December 31, 2024.

Foundation livraria lello / álvaro siza vieira

Addressing the concern about misinformation, identified by the World Economic Forum as the greatest threat of 2024, Foundation Livraria Lello opens the Leça do Balio Monastery with “Act The Thought.” This exhibition symbolizes the Foundation’s approach to the complexity of truth, promoting information and digital literacy. It reaffirms the Foundation’s commitment to the pursuit of truth and fostering an informed society.

On June 15th, outside Lello Bookstore in Porto’s city center, the Inside Out mobile photo booth will capture community members’ faces, promoting an artistic manifesto against misinformation. These photographs will be exhibited at the Monastery in a large-scale photographic intervention starting June 22nd. Portuguese artist Diana Policarpo’s sound installation invites the public to reflect deeply on misinformation. Combined with “Act the Thought” and Siza’s tribute to the Monastery’s history, the Foundation encourages critical reflection among visitors.

The Monastery of Leça do Balio, a National Monument dating to the Roman period, has been requalified by Álvaro Siza in collaboration with landscape architect Sidónio Pardal. Siza’s project promotes a dialogue between the past and a forward-looking vision, preserving its cultural and spiritual significance. The new open-air landmark spans 4,305 square feet, crafted in white concrete, with towers standing 12 meter (40 feet) and 14 meter (46 feet) tall. The interior and exterior sidewalks are made of permeable, stabilized gravel.

Siza’s sculpture, “Wayfarer,” stands 1,8 meter (6 feet) tall, acting as a tribute to the pilgrim’s journey along the Camino de Santiago. This new space offers a serene retreat for visitors. Outdoors, the gardens, to be inaugurated in 2025 and maintained by Sidónio Pardal, integrate new pathways into the landscape.

The requalification of the Monastery and Siza’s addition fuse history, architecture, and landscape, honoring the Monastery’s significance along the Camino de Santiago. Integration with Lionesa Business Hub, a center with 7,000 employees from over 50 nationalities, blends tradition with modernity, fostering a creative environment. Inspired by the legacy of Livraria Lello, the Foundation advocates reading as a transformative tool, promoting access to books, critical thinking, and heritage relationships.

Foundation livraria lello / álvaro siza vieira
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Rua Santos Lessa, Leça do Balio, Porto 4465-332, Portugal

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