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Portugal's Pavilion hosts the world’s biggest ever temporary cork installation

Lisbon 6/7/2017

A mega cork installation, in a project coordinated by the renowned architect Manuel Aires Mateus, will be held within the scope of the 3rd Archi Summit and will be on display for only two days - July 6 and 7 - in the Pavilion of Portugal’s famous concrete


Starting today, the 2-day Archi Summit 2017, will be more than Portugal’s only architect summit - involving architects, engineers and designers. It will also host the world’s biggest ever temporary cork exhibition, in a project involving around 5,000 blocks of expanded cork agglomerate, a 100% natural material provided by Amorim Isolamentos.

In order to implement the project, the studio of Manuel Aires Mateus – the author of the project - and the SAMI studio of Setúbal, co-authors of the work, defined an ambitious objective: to use cork to cover a 2,000 m2 area, corresponding to the entire exterior area of the Pavilion of Portugal. This area corresponds to the famous concrete "canopy" of the Pavilion of Portugal, a work designed by the award-winning architect, Álvaro Siza Vieira, for Expo 98.

Manuel Aires Mateus, the project leader, reveals that "Cork offers many advantages, since it can respond to different requirements at the same time. It can easily be assembled, is lightweight and creates complete independence from the structure housing the project." The architect adds: "Considering the project’s specific characteristics, we felt that it required a light, ephemeral solution. The support provided by Amorim Isolamentos was extremely important. We’ve previously worked with the company as a partner on this kind of project."

Ines Vieira da Silva, architect of the SAMI studio, and co-author of the project, says "This is the first time we’ve worked with cork and it was a great surprise, in particular the method by which cork agglomerate is produced because it’s very natural, it’s not aggressive to the environment and use of the blocks allowed us to create a suitable space for the programme. Use of cork was essential in the construction method, and allowed us to gain thickness and weight, since it served simultaneously as the structure and finishing, thereby endowing a permanent character to an ephemeral structure. "

In total, the cork installation exceeds 760 m3, making it the largest ever made in the world. The material chosen for this project - cork – reinforces the quintessential “Portugality” of the event, whose organisation is 100% Portuguese (although it welcomes visitors from several nationalities) and takes place in a building designed by one of Portugal’s greatest architects.

The expanded cork agglomerate was supplied by Amorim Isolamentos, a subsidiary of Corticeira Amorim. For this purpose the company organized a mega-logistical operation to prepare and deliver the material, in accordance with the requirements of the team of architects, led by Manuel Aires Mateus.

The dynamic behind this initiative began with organisation of Archi Summit 2017 – Portugal’s only architecture summit - and is carried out in this context. The Archi Summit, now in its 3rd edition, runs July 6-7 in the Pavilion of Portugal, marking the return of the architect Álvaro Siza Vieira to the conference circuit, and including the presence of several of the world’s leading architects, such as Valério Olgiati.