In Dialogue with Manuel Aires Mateus

Manuel Aires Mateus, one of the most renowned architects in Portugal and our advisory board member introduces us to Portugal's young creative talent and must-see spots of Lisbon.

This is a second part of our series with our advisory board, in which we get to know Portugal through the lens of design’s leaders. Read on to discover 3 emerging talents in architecture; from bold, innovative design for elderly housing and music schools, to unique urban planning that honours Portugal’s past and future.


Manuel, can you recommend three young creatives to watch in Portugal in 2024? 

I would like to mention three young architects studios:

Cossement-Cardoso: a belgian-portuguese architecture office based in lisbon and founded in 2020 by Charles Cossement and Gil Cardoso.

The studio worked recently on the NUMA CAFÉ project in Principe Real, Lisbon, and rethinking spaces for communities with exceptional designs for a nursing home (Mafra, 2020) and Scouts Headquarters (Mogos, Evora).

Aurora Arquitectos: founded in 2010 by Sofia Couto and Sérgio Antunes.

The studio's focus is on urban regeneration and have realized both residential and cultural projects in different areas in Portugal such as a music school in Santo Tirso.

Corpo Atelier: based in Faro, led by Filipe Paixão and Diogo Silva.

With an impressive design approach to interiors, Corpo have a distintive eye seen particularly in ceilings carved out to expose clean wood pannelling. They have recently published a book “levante”, a collection of stories, episodes, conversations, thoughts and some white lies that depict the processes of making, negotiating, questioning, inhabiting and remembering architecture.

What are you three favourite venues in terms of architecture and design in Lisbon?

There are three places that I particularly like in the city of Lisbon:

"Campo das Cebolas" : located between Praça do Comércio and Santa Apolónia. It was completely remodeled in 2018, with garden spaces, an underground car park, restaurants with terraces and the amazing Casa dos Bicos, the headquarters of the José Saramago, the 1998 Nobel Prize Literature Foundation. During the reconstruction, archaeologists discovered several pre- and post-earthquake remains. One of them was a pombaline era staircase that went to the river, now conserved in the entrance to the underground car park, creating a dialogue between past and present; 21st century and Marquês de Pombal eras.

"Jerónimos Monastery" : one of the most prominent examples of the late Portuguese Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon.

 “Mãe de Água” : The Mãe d'Água Reservoir, is an imposing building with a quadrangular plan completed in 1834, was designed by the Hungarian architect Carlos Mardel in order to receive and distribute the water supplied by the Águas Livres Aqueduct. 

In one sentence, what are your expectations for LDW 2024?

My expectations for LDW2024 are based on the possibility of characterising design in Portugal.


Manuel Aires Mateus was born in 1963 and graduated as an architect in 1986 at the Faculty of Architecture of the Technical University of Lisbon. 

In 1988 he founded the studio Aires Mateus & Associados, together with his brother Francisco Aires Mateus. Among the many iconic works for which he is known, stand out; the restoration of Colégio da Trindade, in Coimbra, winner of the Architécti/Arkial Prize, in 2000; the Reitoria da Universidade de Lisboa , which won the Valmor Prize in 2002; the Sines Arts Center, finalist for the Mies Van Der Rohe Award in 2007; the EDP headquarters, on Avenida 24 de Julho, inaugurated in 2015 and winner of the Valmor Prize 2018 and the Secil Prize in 2020.