Lisbon architecture graffiti 14.09.09

words Justin McGuirk

Icon is just back from Lisbon, where we attended the design biennial Experimenta. One of the pleasures of Experimenta is the way it inhabits this lovely, terraced city - the term "faded grandeur" was made for Lisbon. The streets have a graphic language all of their own, with ornate facade tiles rubbing up against graffiti and posters. But even here you wouldn't expect to find graffiti as literate as the stenciled architecture we discovered in a narrow alley not far from the Association of Portuguese Architects.

Someone - a rogue architecture student? - has lined the bottom of a wall with the kind of buildings you might find in icon. The selection indicates that this particular graffer both knows his onions and has good taste: Peter Zumthor's chapel in Mechernich, SANAA's school in Essen, OMA's Casa da Musica and one building that looks suspiciously like Valerio Olgiati's Yellow House, but we may be wrong. There are also classics, such as Jørn Utzon's Sydney Opera House and a collection of Oscar Niemeyer's Brasilia buildings. We assume the upper panel of a boy playing Space Invaders and a girl blowing bubbles is by the same artist but the connection isn't obvious. Many thanks to Pedro Gadanho for showing us this little treasure trove.

For some reporting on Experimenta proper, get the November issue of icon.

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