Museum of Luz / Pedro Pacheco + Marie Clément

Architects: Pedro Pacheco + Marie Clément
Location: Luz, Mourão, Portugal
Programme: Museum
Constructed Area: 660 sqm
Budget: US $ 1,555,000.00
Collaborators: Sara Antunes, Pedro Rogado
Museology: Benjamim Pereira
Engineering: G.O.P. – gabinete de Organização e Projectos, Lda.
Lighting engeneering: Raul Serafim
Client: E.D.I.A. – Empresa de Desemvolvimento e Infra-estruturas do Alqueva, S.A.
Project year: 1998-2000
Construction year: 2000-2003
Photographs: FG+SG - Fernando Guerra, Sergio Guerra & Paulo Nunes Silva

Luz is the name of a small village in the south of Portugal, with 300 inhabitants. Due to the Alqueva’s Dam construction, the Luz village was submersed. Its inhabitants as well as its culture and origins, had to be dislocated into a new village. The intervention program consisted in creating a new place for the reconstructed church, the new cemetery and the Luz museum as an important memory landmark between the new and the old village.

The aldeia da Luz dislocation is a replacement act, a double and simultaneous act of destruction and foundation. In this double process of landscape transformation, the old village remains as a conceptual embryo – one first nature elaborated through centuries of territory appropriation and a second nature thought and built as a new identity.

The foundation of this new place, aims to absorb, in a new topographic and geographic situation, analogies to the old church’s place – the church and the cemetery as strong identity elements and the museum as a founding element of the new place, endowed with the representative notion of replacement.

The village dismantling process brings back to surface various signs, such archaeological, as anthropologic, historic and architectonic, which embrace not only the village but a whole territory as well. The museum allows storing, classifying and communicating such information, being the result of the whole process of substitution, which, apart from the physical presence, establishes an intentional complicity between the two villages situation.

The strategically location along the East-West axe, brings forward its structural character. Building a museum out of schist relates it more to earth, to soil and to the idea of foundation. The museum redesigns the topography of the place in a telluric relation with the landscape, reflecting the building as an identity mark, where the paths, the walls and the light, turn evident elements of a territory construction culture. This reading is completed by a sequence of interior spaces with singular character – atrium, multiuse room, temporary exhibition room, memory room, Luz* room and patio – witch emphasize a particular regard over landscape.

In a rural atmosphere where technique emerges from the matter manipulation, the use of material and local traditions approach the building act to a natural process of landscape constructing. The 50cm thickness double and schist walls, extracted from a local quarry 3 km far, determined the space atmosphere of the museum and increment the thermo inertia of the building.

Luz room, as the central museum’s figure, constitutes along with the light chimneys the only visible trace of the building in the landscape. It is a space of light, a white page prepared to receive the writing of the Luz territory history being transformed.

Cite: "Museum of Luz / Pedro Pacheco + Marie Clément" 02 Jun 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • os

    Ist Zumthor!

  • 3D

    Simply Beautyful!

  • christos

    it doesn’t matter if it is Zumthor, it is still beautiful and well done to the architects.

  • JuanLuisBurke

    It is a very nice building and it blends so well with the landscape. Great handling of the materials and the details are quite well executed it seems.

  • JuanLuisBurke

    It is a very nice building and it blends so well with the beautiful landscape. Great handling of the materials and the details are quite well executed it seems.

  • tchouah

    Great mastery of the fondamentals architectonicals elements : context, materials, luz, sequences, fonctions.
    reaching that goal with more complex projects is tuff

  • julio

    omg!! Zumthor doesn’t copyright the stone masonry, in that line i suppouse he also copyright the timber. LOL .
    Beautiful Project.

  • George

    in line with the previous comments, I think the approach to the landscape and the way in which the landscape and building interact/meet are what sets it apart…really well done. I really like how quietly it sits on the site and in the context of this location…

    …of course with light like that, its hard to go wrong!

  • Kate

    OMG another beautiful work in Portugal… What’s goin’ on there?

  • Lucas Gray

    Great integration with the surroundings, great materials, great detailing and just a purely elegant design. How did they get away with having an accessible roof without railings though?

    • marie Clément


  • Shropshire Architect

    Wonderful building. I like the monolithic walls set into the ground, which are just the right colour for the location.

  • rodrigo

    Few people work the details as Portuguese architects.
    Excellent work!!

  • Bo Lucky

    Submissive approach – way to design while placing value to the big picture first. This is missing from soooo many contemporary projects. Personally I doubt if the grass stays brownish all year round to harmonize with the building color scheme but even with green around, I am sure the building looks great in its setting. Very elegant design by a sensitive architect for a sensitive community (have you noticed – there is no single “skyscraper” to spoil the town skyline?).

  • aem

    it has nothing to do with zumthor but it’s very nice.

  • Opium

    Pobrezinhos mas honrados,né filho??? It’s scary to think that this is really very good and specially in comparisson to a lot of the stuff presented everyday in this site and still these is not a top firm in portugal…indeed i would say in football terms they fight to avoid relegation. it really shows that portuguese architecture is top of tops on world level today. If only we had more money…oh god…then we could really some shitty scrappers…lol

  • Robert

    Great building. For those near London in the near future there is an exhibition at the RIBA called Overlappings: Six Portuguese Architecture Studios. It includes Aires Mateus. Bak Gordon, Bugio .Joao Favila, Ines Lobo. Paulo David and RCJV.

    Like the project above all the project seem very grounded in there place and use materials of a high quality. Is this the norm in Portugal? My personal favourite is the Arts Centre in Funchal by Paulo David.

  • Robert

    In response to Opium. I was discussing Architecture is Portugal with an attendee of the RIBA exhibition. He was saying how difficult it is for young practices to emerge in Portugal due to the fact that anayone can design a building. Is this the case? Is a lack of regulation of the profession the problem?

  • Opium

    The situation here is paradoxal Robert. On one side as i said earlier we have probably the best architectural schools(speacially in Porto)and on top of that we have world class act like Siza.On the other side we have had a long time debater over a law that permits non architects(civil engeneers for example)to sign architectural projects. The consequences of that are that lots of the construction in portugal,namely housing,iludes architects.But i must say this has gradually changed and now promoters see that bringing a good architect into their speculative projects can earn them more respect and money. If was to say what the real problem for young architects here in portugal i would say that is their excessive number making their wages very low or even non existing. The older allready estabilished architects take advantage of this cheap labour and they use the portuguese architectural syndicate to promote this policy.

  • Opium

    As for the first question yes…it’s norm in portugal. We take enormous respect for the landscape we’re operating in. It’s something that has grown with years and that different architects express in different ways but yes i would clearly say that’s the portuguese trademark the same way the dutch show that almost child like optimism…i guess we’re a bit more sceptikal and more low key.

  • roadkill

    Poignient, beautiful, meaningful and well detailed… the rest of us should take note and learn a thing or two with projects like this instead of being critical over precedents and what inspires them….

  • Lianne

    It is a beautiful building which manages to combine the past and the present in harmony.

  • Durban

    The photographer certainly earned his money. I wonder if the real experience of the space would be as vivid and elegant as the images.

  • roadkill

    Durban, I agree the photography is exquisite but let me reassure you that this part of Portugal is stunning and experiencing it in the flesh is 1000x more powerful than you can experience with a photo and the landscape surrounding it makes this project look stand out even more – as it was said before its a complementary relationship between building and landscape

  • Robert

    Yes I agree with Roadkill. A photo is just a still representation of a much more lively scene. I am now very tempted to see this building. What are your tips for visiting this area?

  • roadkill

    Well Robert… this is in the south of the country; far enough from the Algarve and the larger cities but you will need some wheels or else the most hidden gems will be out of reach. Don’t go in the peak of summer or you will cook [temperatures exceed 40 degrees c] but accommodation although not easy to find is very reasonably priced but you may prefer stay in the Evora and make the drive there… or even stay in the neighbouring Spanish cities – it’s just across the border

  • Emanuel Sancho

    “relationship between building and landscape… ”
    “photographer certainly earned his money…”
    “beautiful building which manages to combine the past and the present in harmony.”
    “Poignient, beautiful, meaningful and well detailed… ”
    “the way in which the landscape and building interact/meet are… ”
    etc, etc, etc…

    I enterely agree. I love the piece of art. I love the spaces.
    I certainelly will visit it as soon as I can.

    As a museologist I ask about the people of Luz. Do they USE their museum often? Does the museum fullfils their needs? Do they like it? Does the museum play un important roll in their daily life?

    Emanuel Sancho