Reitoria da Universidade de Lisboa – fachada.
Arquitetos responsável: Porfírio Pardal Monteiro, António Pardal Monteiro e Carlos Manuel Homem de Sá | Fotógrafo: Estúdio Horácio Novais | Data de produção da fotografia original: posterior a 1961 | Origem: Biblioteca de Arte da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian


The main campus of the City of Lisbon University is based at a site called “Cidade Universitária,” meaning “university city,” that was first envisaged in the 1930’s.

The plan was designed to accommodate the main academic buildings of the University of Lisbon, namely the law, medicine and humanities schools. Since this initial layout and construction, there has been a gradual process of growth to accommodate various other buildings, most of them part of the University of Lisbon, but not exclusively.

The main campus has increasingly grown to become part of the city and has become more lively and stronger as a centre for research. However, this expansion has meant that the site presents a certain lack of fluidity, walkability, comfort, and interconnection between faculties, sports facilities and outdoor environments.

Hardscapes, carparks, arid, plant-less patios, and a high concentration of obstacles to pedestrians dominate the campus environment. Spaces of encounter at an intimate scale are scarce, and the siting of the academic buildings has created space between buildings that is neither comfortable nor inviting for people. Students and staff seem to concentrate around indoor environments, faculty cafes, and the very immediate entrances of some buildings, denouncing a lack of affordability of the space for walking, outdoor activities and physical exercise — crucial actions for stress relief and well-being during the stressful life phase of degree completion. Moreover, there are very few spaces common to all academic faculties and used by students across the campus ,with the exception of a common canteen, the rectory, and the national library that borders the campus. Yet again, the connection between these common facilities and the heart of the campus is not inviting for the pedestrian, so most faculties operate as self-sufficient facilities.

The Portuguese climate and car-dominated culture influence how students, university staff, and visitors use and interact with the university environment. The Alameda, meaning “alley” or “axis,” is the central lawn strip surrounded by the original faculty buildings; it acts as a representational or symbolic space yet lacks real purpose or designated use. Surrounded by roadways, the Alameda’s expansive scale and lack of planting or manmade shade make it an uninviting space. These characteristics seem to be typical of other outdoor spaces throughout the university campus, where cars are given priority over pedestrians, trees or man-made shade structures. These features are important to provide shade and cooling during the hot summer months, and outdoor protection during Lisbon’s rainy winter months.

Nowadays the status and branding image of an University is strongly built around the concept of an exciting and attractive campus that appeals to students, researchers, and public and private investors. In view of this we believe it is important to invest in the improvement of specific aspects of the outdoor environment at the University of Lisbon, even if only in a theoretical context. The Lx Campus Ideas Competition aims at envisaging how Lisbon’s “Cidade Universitária” campus can provide additional opportunities in the daily life and well-being of its students, staff members, neighbouring residents, visitors, and general citizens.


The aim of the Lx Campus Ideas Competition is to challenge all stakeholders in a wide range of disciplines, including landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, planning, sociology, environmental studies, environmental psychology, education, public health, as well as other relevant disciplines, to examine and re-envision the campus in a way that reflects the theme of this conference, focusing on the concrete case of the City of Lisbon’s University Campus.

** Note: Aimed to contribute to a theoretical discussion on the future of the campus of the University of Lisbon, this competition will not be followed by any type of contract. It is merely an ideas competition that will be concluded with a public discussion of the selected entries **

Free of planning, financial or other restrictions, competitors are encouraged to examine, analyse, and provide ideas for an achievable design solution to the campus’ masterplan and to at least one (1) intimate, smaller-scale outdoor space. Competitors should consider the following:

– Placemaking, how the creation of memorable, symbolic spaces can strengthen the City of Lisbon University’s brand as an unrivalled centre of higher learning in Portugal

– Improvement and/or introduction of usages and affordances in existing outdoor spaces for a variety of current and previously excluded individuals, small and large groups

– Inclusion of affordances for users of all life phases — childhood, adolescence, young and middle-aged adulthood/family life, and the elderly — on the site

– Increased opportunities for physical interaction/encounters across the student body, between faculties, and among staff members, visitors, neighbouring residence, and general citizens in outdoor spaces

– Improved circulation for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists

– Interventions to address climate, especially Lisbon’s hot summer months and rainy winter months

– To discuss how the University City complex relates to its urban context

Through ideas generation and a design response, the Lx Campus Ideas Competition seeks to create a platform for discussion between competitors, university administration, faculty, students, general citizens, politicians and other interested parties.