Prata Riverside village

Prata Riverside Village is a new upscale residential village complex in Lisbon, Portugal that uses light and connection as central organizing principles in both design and philosophy. Located on the shores of the Tagus river, Prata seeks to create a vibrant new neighborhood connecting the traditional artisan village area of Marvila with the newer Parque das Nações (Park of Nations) built-in 1998 when Lisbon hosted the World Expo, and since blossoming into a thriving business, cultural and residential hub. The Portuguese word "prata" translates into English as silver and in addition to playing on the quality of sunlight reflected across the river, positions the project a symbol embodying the rich history of the region expressed through modern architecture and a rare opportunity to live in a unique lifestyle forward community.

Prata was designed by Pritzker-winning architect Renzo Piano and his team at Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), who took as their inspiration the sails of ships crossing the river, and the ways light moves across the horizon and play with the cityscape over the days and seasons. The newly formed neighborhood is comprised of a series of buildings that collectively offer over 700 apartments from studios to 5-bedroom homes - all with sweeping views and bright, open, airy living spaces. The complex also includes retail, commercial, and gastronomic spaces, parks, playgrounds, and bicycle tracks. Each building features distinctive curved ceramic facades which bend to a 45-degree sloped roof, capturing the essence of a fleet of sailboats, ‘opening’ the streets to the sun and maximizing sky views. Traditional materials like Lisbon’s famous "azulejo" tiles and Lioz stone are juxtaposed throughout the design with thoroughly modern glass and steel, creating a sense of fluidity and conversation between past, present, and future. Apartments feature numerous green and sustainable amenities, from large balconies to shared gardens to solar panels to electric blackout screens. Security is also integrated, as is an in-house concierge service that takes care of resident needs ranging from organizing reservations, activities, and deliveries to hosting meeting rooms and workspaces.

The larger story of the site goes back to the late 1990s, after hosting Expo 98 opened a gateway to formerly industrial and overlooked areas of Lisbon being rezoned for urban renewal projects.

The impetus behind the Prata development was to create a much needed new-build housing as well as a vibrant riverside park and recreation hub, connecting and integrating the old and new regions of the city. The old town of Marvila expresses an industrial-chic vibe, with warehouses repurposed into art galleries and studios and a growing creative sector. It is a neighborhood humming with craft breweries and cocktail bars, chic cafes and restaurants, and specialty boutiques. The Parque das Nações, by contrast, is known for modernist architecture, thriving commerce, and its plethora of entertainment options, in addition to functioning as the city’s main transportation hub. In the space between the two lies, Prata Riverside Village envisaged as a connecting element between the two regions yet at once a unique, relaxed seaside neighborhood designed for living with ease of access to all of the business and cultural amenities of a modern city without the day to day hustle and bustle. The Prata Village concept was spearheaded by lifestyle experience experts VIC Properties and forms part of the largest real estate development project currently under construction in Lisbon. The total gross construction area of the site parcel is 128, 000 sq. m. spread over 12 plots, and by completion in 2024 will include significant residential, commercial, retail, recreation, and community green spaces. VIC Project Manager Luis Cabecinha explains how the Prata development was the next logical step following the popularity and regeneration of the Parque das Nações, with the Prata site:

Strategically and beautifully located between this new neighborhood and the “old city”. It was decided to invite a renowned architect to help create this landmark project and Renzo Piano visited Lisbon and Prata´s area in 1999. Over the following two decades, successive setbacks (from licensing issues to economic world crisis) have postponed the project delivery. However, in 2018 VIC Properties entered the scene and since then all obstacles have been overcome… We feel very proud about the whole project and everyone that visits us will notice the love we have put in every single detail – from the architectural solutions to the materials used, this project breathes quality. So, if we have to say what we like the most, perhaps is the fact that “it exists”, it is real now… a dream come true.

The timeline setbacks in project delivery did offer a silver lining in that Architect Renzo Piano and his team spent a lot of time visiting Lisbon over the intervening years, absorbing the culture and energy of the city and the ways that its personality was evolving, which in turn evolved their vision of the connective function they wanted the project to embody. They describe their conception of Prata as:

A project that enhances connections at multiple levels: At an urban scale Prata is the pivot point between the city center and Parque das Nações (Expo), while more locally it connects the old neighborhood of Marvila with the Tagus river. Eventually, at a human scale, it will be a place to gather people in a green and friendly environment…The main lines of the masterplan are going in the east/west direction, from the hills to the Tagus. This sequence of streets intersects some diagonal connections, creating a triangular square in the middle of the new neighborhood. Prata is designed following the rules of the ancient city, where there are synergies between different functions, and rejects the idea of an enclosed residential suburb. It is an open and permeable “piece” of the city” that fosters the connections with the Tagus and with the extensive green areas along the riverfront.

Transparency is a hallmark of Renzo Piano Building Workshop’s work, and to harness light and transparency as both thematic and practical features, his design has each building split into two sections connected by a transparent, open garden element - literally allowing light to function as the unifying material of the structure. They explain the concept:
“The ground floor of the buildings is fully glazed and completely permeable. Here are located all the functions open to the public like shops, restaurants, services, workshops, and offices. At the upper floors, in between the two “urban” ceramic façades, we find again complete transparency where buildings are open through extensive curtain windows towards a raised patio. This is a protected green area for the inhabitants.”

Given how paramount light, windows, and view lines were to the design, a cohesive glazing system was core, a system that needed to facilitate the creation of an intangible boundary between indoor and outdoor spaces. This meant that the attention to detail during construction needed to be as meticulous as it was during design. RPBW partnered with glazing specialists Reynaers Aluminium to create cutting-edge solutions to realize the grand overall vision. In addition, Reynaers Aluminium delivered custom solutions for the curtain windows on the ground floor, particularly with regard to the extruded profiles, which required custom pressure caps, fully glazed corners, and unusually tall windows. RPBW details the collaboration process:

From the beginning of construction, it was important to coordinate different systems by making them work together: walls, façade, structures, and miscellaneous steel elements. finishes, etc. The collaboration with Reynaers Aluminium was effective, allowing us to test different solutions starting from the early stages up to construction. The process went through coordination meetings, development of shop drawings up to the execution of real scale mockups for all the windows systems.

RPBW was particularly pleased with the system used on the patio facades. Reynaers Aluminium HiFinity Sliding System marries maximum light penetration and transparency with minimalist design due to its innovative hidden or ‘invisible’ sliding mechanisms. Beyond functioning as a pleasing aesthetic solution that minimizes the mechanical obstruction typical of traditional door and window systems, the HiFinity system also scores highly across sustainability and comfort metrics, with excellent acoustic protection as well as exceptional water, wind, and air tightness. In addition to being eco-friendly, these features also reduce thermal maintenance costs and prioritize inhabitant sensory wellness.

The combination of proximity to popular cultural, dining, and shopping areas along with the tranquility of green waterfront living makes the Prata Riverside Village an excellent example of urban rejuvenation, creating a micro-integration for residents of lifestyle freedom and balance between the amenities of the city and the slower pace of riverside living. More broadly, the village anchors the larger area of the development site as an integrative space honoring the industrial and historical legacy of the city yet reconfiguring the spatial logistics to allow for increasing urban density without compromising on community or quality of life in one of Europe’s most thriving economic, tourism, cultural and digital hubs. At Prata, light as a lifestyle has been effectively harnessed into a breathable, fresh, open air living concept which offers residents and visitors a tranquil seaside experience in the midst of a connected, networked, and thriving metropolis.

Reynaers installers:
Ribeiro & Rocha – lot 8
Seveme – lot 1, 2 and 7