The Portuguese firm of architects Promontório have come up with a series of plans for a river aquarium, environmental research and conservation centre near Mora, in the region of Alentejo south of Lisbon. The surrounding Gameiro ecological park offers a fund of landscape features and teaching potential eminently suited to this particular brief: enhancing tourist resources. Amid the gently rolling Alentejo countryside with its woods, cork plantations and olive groves, the architectural project takes its cue from the simple traditional rural dwellings, or “montes” - a single-storey building with a pitched roof. The river aquarium complex likewise hugs the ground avoiding all prominence or relief amid the horizontal planes of the landscape. The perimeter is formed of a sequence of white pre-fab cement buttresses suggesting a broad portico or pergola with the various elements of the nucleus proper housed inside. The surrounding service corridor that mediates with the outer environment is an essential feature setting off the shape of the buildings. The aquarium has a variety of functions: a museum of contemporary artefacts, a centre for environmental research, a teaching structure, a science lab. All is laid out by themes, recreating the river flora and fauna in its many “pools” enclosed by elegant plate glass windows on a plinth clad in rendered terracotta blocks. The regular lay-out is designed to connect a series of nature walks that intersect and ramify. The experience of the senses flows on, unified by the spare linear architecture – plain walls and flooring guiding the visitor through a suffused half-light to retrace the sequence of different riverside settings. The building stands at the confluence of two gently flowing streams and looks out over a reservoir that forms an essential part of the overall design: running across or alongside this is a raised wooden-floored walkway with the thinnest of metal hand-rails. The basement of the building houses the technical plant and apparatus regulating the physical and chemical settings needed for the right water, air or light conditions inside the aquarium and its pools, as well as a sick-bay area for any fish species in quarantine.