MASS Lab wins competition combining housing with public spaces in Lisbon

housing with public spaces in Lisbon

Near Basílica da Estrela and along Infante Santo Avenue, three new housing blocks will host 100 dwellings to face the lack of affordable housing in Lisbon. MASSLAB’s project stood out from other proposals by its smart integration of new buildings with the existing urban framework and infrastructure.

With a premium location in the heart of Lisbon, and with housing as the main focus, these buildings of 20.000 m2 will also offer commercial areas, and two generous public spaces open to the city. Near the historic Basilica da Estrela, the winning proposal by the MASSLAB office integrates the new buildings with the city’s heritage and urban fabric, while addressing the pressing need for affordable housing as well as public spaces.

Praised by the competition jury for its exceptional urban integration and architectural aesthetic, the proposal represents a significant milestone in the urban development of this area within the city. In addition to providing the city with 100 thoughtfully designed, affordable housing units, the winning proposal seeks to bridge social gaps within urban areas and addresses the lack of outdoor spaces in residential buildings.

By creating new, inviting public spaces that seamlessly interchange with the built environment, the proposal aims to invigorate and enhance the urban experience, promoting pedestrian circulation, transparency in commercial areas, and emphasizing the vital role of people in shaping the city.

With a strong focus on creating a “people-oriented city”, the proposal’s core principle revolves around the intrinsic relationship between built mass and public spaces – the office stands for design public space before private. This theme has been consistently endorsed by MASSLAB architectural firm, now responsible for the project. To emphasize this vision, the proposal stems from two generous public zones: a lush green garden and a stable paved square.

Though seemingly contrasting in nature, these spaces harmoniously complement each other when experienced together. The organic design of the garden offers multiple sensory experiences making use of water features, topography, lighting, vegetation, and visual connectivity. Meanwhile, the Basilica Square acts as a regular geometric element, seamlessly connecting the main pathways.

The proposed plazas and the integration with a new landscape fully address the program’s needs and specificities, aligning cohesively with the historical surroundings. Located in one of the most premium areas of Lisbon, the three blocks elegantly integrate with their surroundings, carefully addressing the multiple scales and employing facades that minimize the project’s impact.

The interior layout showcases a modular structural design, offering a range of housing options from one to four-bedroom units. These flexible units accommodate changing family dynamics and foster a sense of a converging community within a growing multicultural context in Lisbon. The 100 residential units are divided into innovative typologies that are developed around a repeating base module.

The interaction between the modules – through aggregation or segregation – diverges within each apartment, further defining distinct living experiences within the same dwelling space. The intentional design flexibility of open-plan living, dining, and kitchen areas enhances social interaction, while also allowing easy separation for privacy.

Emphasizing sustainable and circular design principles, the proposal incorporates credible and feasible construction models that prioritize the physical and psychological well-being of residents and users. Passive strategies are integrated both into the buildings and public spaces, including rain gardens, well-qualified tree-lined edges, and measures to reduce visual and noise exposure, for example.

The proposal designed by MASSLAB brings a new standard of urban living worldwide, blending functionality with flexibility to create a living environment tailored to individual needs, setting the stage for the future of residential design in cities that are linked to urban integration as one single biome that tackles individual necessities within public demands.

The architectural firm MASSLAB achieved an impressive sequence of awards in architectural competitions. Since the beginning of 2023, the office has already won six competitions in different geo-graphic positions, including Helsinki, Porto, Maia, Almada, Cascais, and now Lisbon. Source by MASS Lab.

  • Location: Avenida Infante Santo + Rua de São Ciro, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Architect: MASS Lab
  • Engineering: Adão da Fonseca
  • Landscape architecture: Oh!Land
  • Client: IHRU, IP
  • Program: Housing + Services
  • Area: 19.800 m2
  • Year: 2023
  • Images: Courtesy of MASS Lab