Weaving the City

architect Gonçalo Byrne
project Eça de Queirós Building and Square, Leiria, Portugal
written by Jose Figueira


Gonçalo Byrne is one of Portugal’s most respected architects. His work, which already spans five decades, has always been characterised by simultaneous attention to the urban dimension and to the actual architectonic formalization of the projects. The urban element in Byrne’s work has a geographical connotation, a vast reading of the territory; the architectonic element is related to the language of the buildings, which is more effective in a particular circumstance. Byrne thus manages to combine perennial and ephemeral values, achieving a high degree of consistency and some universal balance.


According to a certain tradition of Portuguese architecture, the pre-existing and the modern, the archaic and the new, can engage in a dialogue without theoretical contradiction. Byrne belongs to this inclusive tradition – one that is nevertheless much focused on the discipline of architecture. After he has participated in social housing programmes such as Casal das Figueiras (Setúbal), within saal (Ambulatory Service of Local Support), and has designed the mythical Pink Panther (Chelas, Lisbon), Byrne still remains an architect who shows social concern. In his own delicate manner, Byrne places the resident, the user, and the sociability that architecture can produce in a central position.