Factory Lisbon is the adaptive reuse of a 1973 cookie and noodle factory owned by the Portuguese military. The heritage protected building sits on Lisbon’s harbor front, in a historic army supply complex that is currently being transformed into an innovation district: the Hub Criativo do Beato.
Designed to house noodle-making machinery, the building is 200 meters long and only 11 meters wide. This slender volume would normally require the introduction of several concrete cores for emergency circulation. Instead, to avoid such a disruptive intervention, new circulation areas have been added externally. Lightweight steel walkways and single-flight stairs meander along the façades, weaving around the historic volumes and the elevator shaft at the building’s center. There, the stairs are suspended from the roof to minimize their structural impact. The new elevator shaft is clad with mirrors, so it blends with the historic colors and features.
The ribbon-shaped circulation showcases the Factory’s unique blend of program and design principles. Office spaces for large companies and start-ups are combined with event spaces, restaurants and a 2,000 m² public-access roof terrace. The design approach is to retain old materials and surfaces wherever possible, contrasting them with contemporary elements of concrete, steel, glass and wood.
Factory Lisbon aims to make a multilayered and nuanced impact on the local community in Beato. There is a strong focus on making the venue accessible to a diverse local and international audience, beyond that of the typical conference business. Current events cover tech, food, gender, skateboarding, fashion, architecture and art, on both a for-profit and non-profit basis.
The architectural design and concept were developed through an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort. Aligning bold architecture with the existing context in a respectful way is the shared leitmotiv for both the Factory’s founder, Simon Schaefer, and the architects Julian Breinersdorfer, José Baganha and Angela Maurice.
In line with these design principles, all the major interventions were drawn as white steel lines. They add elements or repair what is necessary, while leaving the volume of the historic building legible and intact. In addition to the walkways, St. Andreas crosses were attached to make the building earthquake resistant, openings with white-framed glazing were introduced into the brick façade to bring in light or provide for circulation, and mezzanine floors were extended to use high-ceilinged spaces more efficiently. The necessary technical installations were treated as veins, unashamedly taking their place in the building’s body. They are visible as technological transformations, adapting the functionality of an old food production facility to support contemporary offices and event uses.
Plants and wooden buildout elements introduce a nonindustrial softness, without straying from the 1970s palette. Historic details like two cookie machines, yellow perforated brick walls, and marble staircases have been lovingly restored and integrated. All building materials, finishes and geometries were been selected to vibrate with Lisbon’s magical Atlantic light.