Knowledge of the Seas Pavilion Exhibition


When, in 1995, we were invited to participate in the first contest that would grant us access to the thematic exhibitions of the Expo 98, we were far from guessing the tremendous complexity of the process we were about to engage.  For two years, the project evolved and forced us into a permanent process of revision and self-critic, not only conceptually, but also of its several different procedures or simply, of methodological research.

The starting point was a script previously prepared by the Expo 98.The exhibitions finds here the beginning of its purpose as a communicative and narrative event, made out of several chapters. It was a matter of telling the story of how Mankind’s “Knowledge” has evolved as a consequence of its progressive knowledge of the oceans.

We had still to take under consideration the specific nature of the support-building, nowadays called Museum of Knowledge, whose concept was parallel to the exhibition. Save some exceptions, it was thought out as a sequence of box-spaces relatively neutral and darkened that, in their limit, could be seen as stages for a show.

At last, a maximum affluence estimated of 2100 people/hour (it got to 2400), from all parts of the world, ages and social background, would go through the spatial sequence in 45 minutes, in an average of 6-7 minutes per room. Written communication and interactivity, common in conventional exhibitions, were of course excluded.

Maintaining its initial structure, the script was successively adapted, evolving from the debate, not without polemic, around each given solution. During this time, hundreds of meetings between our team of 18 specialities (!) and the Expo, manage to produce the necessary impulses to what would come to be built, which was mainly, a deep and complex exercise on communication.

Very few projects would question so much about language and communication as this thematic exhibition that intended to convey a set of notions and events. Through the nature of the sets, of light, sound, of the stimuli created and the objects exhibited, in the absence of text or any other explanation, the atmosphere of each room should be able to “submerge” the visitor in a given theme.

More than trying to describe or dissect the exhibition itself, which could lead to poor, reductive and failed readings of the text-exhibition, what matters to us in this project is, above all, to make reference to the questions raised by the act of projecting and all that it  involved or determined.

The text left by the architect is the exhibition itself. Its reading(s) should emerge naturally from the (individual) experience of the event. Only this way can it truly mean or signify anything, only this way can one grasp its meaning.


Sociedade Expo 98 SA

Pavilhão do Conhecimento dos Mares, Lisboa
(Actualmente Pavilhão do Conhecimento – conteúdo demolido)

1995 - 1997

ARX Portugal, Arquitectos lda.

José Mateus

Nuno Mateus

Paulo Fonseca

Miguel Figueira *


Paulo Rocha, Jorge Sequeira, Philipp Rietheimer, Margarida Bernardes, Stefano Riva, Ricardo França, Delphine Sémondès, Inês Camacho, Mário Filipe Rino, João Alves, Isabel Aquino Silva, Tiago Ruivo *, Tiago Jorge *

* Projecto Básico e de Produção dos Inter-sectores Magalhães e Challenger

Ship Architecture

SEN – Sociedade de Engenharia Naval, Lda.Francisco Cunha Salvado

Graphic Desing

Media Zemun Portugal, Lda. (Projecto de Produção)

Boban Basic, Deidra Jovanovic, Pedro Almeida, Francisco Coelho (Anteprojecto fase II)

2 & 3 D – Design (Projecto de Produção) Isabel Pinto, Nuno Gusmão, Rafael Marques

Clap, Lda. (Concurso) Luis Alvoeiro

Light Planning

Rui Marcelino


Miso Produções, Lda.Miguel Azguime, Paula Azguime

Estereosom, Lda. (Concurso) Jorge Gonçalves

Strutures Engeneering

Tal Projecto, Lda.Tiago Braga Abecasis, Francisco Cima Gomes, Paulo Ribeiro

Sanitary Planning

Aquadomus, Lda. (Concurso e Anteprojecto) Carlos Braga, João Rodrigues, José Santos

Security Planning

Certitecna, Lda.Vitorino Dias, Manuel Bouza Serrano, Carlos Nogueira, Carla Calado

Acoustic Systems

Certiprojecto Lda., Fernando Palma Ruivo, Gonçalo Ruivo

Tecnical Instalations

Pen, Lda. Luis Andrade, Henrique Leal, Tiago Laureano, Mário Constâncio, Sérgio Monteiro

Dynamic Models

Pen, Lda. / ATPI José Dias da Silva, António Lemos

INESC/Tormeca (Anteprojecto)

Ângelo Paixão, Emílio Tomé


Domótica Lda., António Trindade, Carlos Alegria

Electronical Systems

António Trindade


Sono, Barcelona
Luis Serpa, Emílio Roca

INESC (Concurso e anteprojecto)

Conceição Costa

Multimedia Scripts

José Xavier


Emanuel F. Coelho, Rogério Chumbinho


Boban Basic