Ten years after completing the Ílhavo Maritime Museum in Portugal, Lisbon studio ARX Portugal has extended the building by adding an aquarium dedicated to codfish. The aquarium is contained within an angular metal-clad structure, positioned over a white concrete base. Bridging a public plaza, the building sets up a winding route between the existing museum and its accompanying research centre. ARX Portugal placed the aquarium tank at the centre of a spiralling pathway, allowing visitors to look into the water from different heights and positions. The architects explain: “The visitor’s path is a spiralling ramp, a journey that begins in suspension over the tank and turns into a diving mode of gradual discovery, an experience of immersion in the cod habitat”. An informal auditorium offers a stop along the route, where visitors can learn more about the fish, while extra facts and pictures are printed across the walls. A private basement floor houses technical equipment needed to maintain the tanks and there’s also storage space to house the museum’s archive. ARX Portugal completed the Ílhavo Maritime Museum in 2002 and it was one of five projects nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture in 2003. The studio’s other projects include a top-heavy concrete and glass house and a residence with a gaping chasm through its centre.

Photography is by Fernando Guerra.

Location: Ílhavo, Portugal
Owner: Ílhavo Municipality
Project: 2009–11
Construction: 2011-12
Architecture: ARX PORTUGAL, Arquitectos Lda.
José Mateus
Nuno Mateus
Work Team: Ricardo Guerreiro, Fábio Cortês, Ana Fontes, Baptiste Fleury, Luís Marques, Sofia Raposo, Sara Nieto, Héctor Bajo

Via: Dezeen