Disquietude. Architecture and Energy in Portugal
17 November 2022 to 12 February 2023
Galerias Municipais - Galeria Avenida da Índia, Av. da Índia 170, 1400-038 Lisboa, Portugal

The exhibition “Disquietude. Architecture and Energy in Portugal,” curated by common room (Lars Fischer, Brussels and Kim Förster, Manchester) addressed the entanglement between architecture and energy in the 20th century, with a view to current transformations, using Portugal as an example. Invited by Galerias Municipais Lisboa, the exhibition was on view from 17 November 2022 to 12 February 2023 and featured artistic, architectural, archival, and creative works that address the relationship between architecture and energy in a broader sense.

In the age of the Anthropocene, in which humanity acts on cycles and systems with all its power and capital, the interface of architecture and energy concerns more than solely operational or even embodied energy, and active and passive solutions. In the face of the climate crisis, the phase-out of fossil fuels and the abandonment of the internal combustion engine, architecture has a mediating role; with its focus on alternative energies, architecture is also about socio-cultural rethinking.

The work of the two Portuguese Pritzker Prize-winning architects alone, Alvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura, provide concrete instances of how access to energy has shaped the built environment. Siza’s early projects in Matosinhos/Porto, its waterfront with Casa da Chá do Boa Nova and Piscina das Marés, and the boulevard connecting them both, all commissioned by the oil industry, and Eduardo Souto de Moura's design for the Foz Tua dam, are only a few examples.

In addition, the exhibition venue Galeria Avenida da Índia itself and its urban surroundings in Belém testified to how architecture and energy were negotiated, implemented, represented, and received. The urban area exposed the intensification of urbanization and modernization processes, densification and land consumption, which also define the great acceleration since the 1950s.

This exhibition dealt with different forms of knowing about the relationship between architecture and energy. Through individual contributions, three intertwined themes were exemplified: Petroleum-Urbanism, the relationship between fossil fuels and urbanism; Hydropower-Infrastructure, the mediating role of architecture in energy landscapes; Architecture-Metabolism, modern materials, processes, and technologies in buildings.

On display were existing and newly commissioned works by local and international architects and artists that address local issues in various ways of perceiving and representing energy, built and lived, each set in relation to archival material.

Forms of representation such as map, list, plan, section, sculpture, photography, composition, and installation offered multiple modes of reception to raise an awareness of a built environment in Portugal with its energy synergies, energy landscapes, and energy infrastructures.

The exhibition wass dialogically conceived by common room in conversation and exchange with local stakeholders or work on locally relevant issues, and is presented using already existing display structures and with only minimal interventions in the gallery space.

In the gallery space documents from local municipal and private institutions and individual works from or about Lisbon and its energy hinterland, confronted the audience with the challenges and perspectives we face today in an energy conscious engagement with architecture.

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication with essays by ateliermob, Lucinda Correia, João Duarte & Maria João Soares and Nuno Pinto & Iain Deas. Edited by Fischer and Förster, with graphic design by Geoff Han, this book will be published jointly by Galerias Municipais Lisboa and common room.

common room is an architectural practice that also includes publishing and curatorial work. It is collaborative platform based in New York City and Brussels.