João Luís Carrilho da Graça designs the new Cruise Terminal in Lisbon, looking at the city and located "backs" to the river. The purpose of the volume is to create a transition between the river and the city, using its large terrace open to the outside.
On the Alfama slope, Lisbon is an amphitheater looking out into the Tagus estuary. At the foot of the hill, on the flats of the early 20th-century landfill of the port, the building of the new Cruise Terminal echoes, and returns, the gaze: a small amphitheater, apparently with its back to the river, look back at the city.
In order to create space for the terminal and its adjoining open-air car park and tidal tank, the former Jardim do Tabaco dock on the site of Lisbon's early 20th-century port was filled in. Raised from the ground, it lifts the public space along with itself, transformed into a terrace/viewpoint — abstract topography — between river and city, like a transshipment raft that connects and reveals both.
The programme of the terminal is housed under this shell, raised ground: car park underground; luggage delivery, processing and claim, at ground level; passengers in the upper level; all flexible spaces, as are those of the Park/Boulevard, that allow for the future evolution of the terminal, as for events of other nature to take place outside the hours, and seasons, of its use as a maritime station.
This sort of exoskeleton, that encircles the areas assigned to the terminal’s programme, is built of structural white concrete with cork — a solution specifically developed to lighten the building’s weight, limited by the preexisting foundations, stemming from a concept by Carrilho da Graça originally for experimental design, the Lisbon design biennale —, with a particular haptic quality, and that lightens up with the sunlight reflected on the estuary, the famous ‘ light of Lisbon’.
Virtually blind on the riverside — from where the building appears as a discreet stony socle of the city — and creasing, on the city side, just enough to reveal its access points, the building mediates the visual relations between its users and the river and city: in a building that is used almost always in motion — along the gangway, in the loggias that give access to the ships or from these to descend directly into the city, walking on the rooftop, on the tangential approaches to the main façade — the gaze wanders, cinematic.