Lisbon in the Future: The New Coaches Museum

Museu dos Coches, Lisbon

A much controversial new Coaches Museum is coming to Lisbon. Due to lack of space, what is currently Lisbon’s most visited national museum needs a new home, and it has been found right in front of its present location. Pritzker Award-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha was called to come up with a design for the new building, and the result is what you can see above, a massive (and some say not that attractive) structure standing 4.5 meters above the ground. Inside it will include space for maintenance and repairs of the coaches, restaurants, and an auditorium for special events, as the building will be quite large (and some argue disproportionate to its surroundings).

There are many reasons for all the controversy. In addition to spending (critics say “wasting”) millions of euros on something that’s not broken and therefore doesn’t need to be fixed (when many other cultural projects lack financing), many believe the current historical building is the ideal place for the collection, and that the bare modern white walls of the future home will take away much of the charm. This is a unique collection not just for its originality when it opened to the public but also for its number of fairytale vehicles which reportedly is the world’s largest and most valuable.

After a cost of 31.5 million euros (already available thanks to taxes paid by the Lisbon Casino), it is hoped that everything will be complete in October of next year, when everyone will finally be able to see if in fact those timeless coaches will shine brighter in a grand new modern building.

2 Responses to “Lisbon in the Future: The New Coaches Museum”

  1. Ana Says:

    All is correct in the article above except that this structure will not have anything to do with the architecture of Belem. They could and should build a new and bigger building for the coaches’ museum with the same architecture style of Belem. The kind of structure they want to build is much better suited in the east of the city, where you can find plenty of modern architecture.

    Almost the same situation happen when they decide to built CCB (Cultural Centre of Belem) and everybody agreed that it was a horrendous building to be at the side of Jeronimos Monastery. Since the idea of Jeronimos Monastery, when built, was to be seen (and welcome the sailors returning home) while entering in Lisbon harbour, today that view is partially cut by CCB.

    I wouldn’t like to be done the same mistake again.

  2. Mario Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Ana.
    I agree with you and I’d like to see this project cancelled, with the funds going elsewhere such as the expansion of the Museu do Chiado, renovation of the Museu de Arte Antiga, or the conclusion of Palácio da Ajuda. This is just one more example of poorly managed money and lack of foresight by city authorities who don’t seem aware of the Lisbon’s real cultural needs.
    Too bad there aren’t many more people who feel the same so that bigger protests could be planned.

    They’ve gone back on their decision to end the Museu de Arte Popular (it will be back soon), perhaps with enough opposition they’d stop the new Museu dos Coches as well.