The patterns of Lisbon’s Egyptian embassy deal with an expression of its home country’s architectural heritage, without becoming a replica of a traditional building, alien to its new, foreign context
The question of whether to emulate the architecture of one’s host country or to project an image of the domestic vernacular abroad is one that has occupied embassy builders since the inauguration of the type in the 19th century. One way this problem can be navigated is via the choice of architect: whether home grown or local. The British have a Lutyens Queen Anne house in Washington, for example, and the Japanese built a Kenzō Tange embassy in Mexico City – the Belgians, on the other hand, employed artist Satish Gujral to build their ancient-looking embassy in New Delhi. Materials can also be used to evoke home, as with the Saudi embassy complex in the same city – it is formed of a traditionally styled cluster of buildings in imported Riyadh stone. Ornament can serve the same purpose: the South African embassy in Addis Ababa is covered with a steel mesh screen, decorated with a huge image inspired by ancient rock art from the region. The new Egyptian embassy in Lisbon, designed by local practice Promontorio, takes a similar approach, albeit less ostentatiously. The two-storey concrete structure is embossed with a tessellated pattern, evocative of Islamic decoration. Within, the modestly scaled but impressively crafted building centres on an atrium clad in timber into which daylight filters through a patterned screen.
Egyptian embassy lisbon promontorio architectural review drawings