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Fort of Crismina, the former military outpost becomes an events space

The fortified structure is located on the southern coast of Portugal, overlooking the Atlantic


Crismina Fort Refurbishment barbiniarquitectos
By Editorial Staff -

A former military outpost in a captivating location by the Atlantic Ocean on Portugal’s southern coast, Fort of Crismina is now available for hosting weddings, birthdays, or any other occasion with friends and relatives. The structure, converted into a space for private events to a plan by barbiniarquitectos, stands on a rocky promontory above Crismina Beach in the municipality of Cascais, west of Lisbon.


The conversion of the Fort of Crismina

Crismina Fort refurbishment for a multipurpose facility © Fernando Guerra, courtesy of barbiniarquitectos

The fort was built in the 18th century during the Fantastic War between Portugal and Spain. The history of rebuilding and conversion of the structure began in the early 2000s, when there were plans to transform it into a restaurant. In 2017, the fort was purchased by a private buyer, who decided instead to use it as a venue for private events.

The project by the studio, led by Flavio and Maria João Barbini, began with reinforcing the original walls, which had deteriorated over years of exposure to the coastal weather. Within the irregular polygon formed by the walls, and as high as them, a new single-story volume was then created. Its façades are mainly glazed with some sections finished in stone, while the roof is galvanized sheet metal. In the outdoor areas between the new structure and the old walls, three courtyards were created to the south, east, and west, towards the ocean.

The location is of great natural significance, with alternating sandy and rocky beaches, endemic and rare flora, and important bird species, including the peregrine falcon, eagle owl, and alpine swift. The relationship between the built and natural environments consequently plays a central role in the project. The landscaping focused in particular on areas without vegetation, old paths, and circulation areas, so as to make the most of these elements.


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An open space in dialogue with outdoors

Crismina Fort refurbishment for a multipurpose facility © Fernando Guerra, courtesy of barbiniarquitectos

The building has a single large room – an open space of 3655 sq. ft. (340 m2) – with just two round reinforced concrete pillars. The ancillary spaces include restrooms and a small kitchen. The materials and colors chosen for the main room recall the historical masonry outside, with the walls finished with slabs of Portuguese Amarelo Macieira granite with a bush-hammered finish, while the floors are partly Venetian terrazzo and partly the same stone as the walls. The material continuity between inside and outside, combined with the transparency of the façades, ensures that the newly built volume has been successfully integrated into the existing one.

The unevenness of the bush-hammered stone wall finishes combined with the properties of an acoustic suspended ceiling contribute to the acoustic comfort of the room. As far as the lighting is concerned, linear lights are recessed into the floor following the line of the walls, while adjustable spotlights are hidden among the slats of the suspended ceiling.


>>> Read the preview of the article dedicated to Subterranean Ruins, a multifunctional public center freely accessible to the villagers of Kaggalipura, in India, designed by A Threshold


Location: Crismina Beach, Cascais, Portugal
Completion: 2021
Area: fortress 1400 m2; new building 540 m2
Client: Imonomio
Architect: barbiniarquitectos - Flavio Barbini + Maria João Barbini 

Landscape: João Ceregeiro
Lighting: Joana Forjaz 
Structures: Luís Gião Marques LNM
Eletrical and Telecomunications: Fernando Aires GPIC
Plumbing: Filipe Furtado
Gas: Jorge Rocha SOPSEC
Mechanical: Manuel Madureira NZEBS
Acoustics: Rui Rodrigues SOPSEC
Fire Protection: Paulo Prata Ramos ETU

Photography by Fernando Guerra, courtesy of barbiniarquitectos

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