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The MIAA by João Luís Carrilho da Graça

The Museu Ibérico de Arqueologia e Arte (MIAA), designed by João Luís Carrilho da Graça, is located in a strategic urban context in the municipality of Abrantes, which, since its foundation, has been a key and transitional site due to the specific landscape conditions, the rugged orography of the Beiras and the flat area of the Borda d’Água.

Here, the castle overlooked the Tagus River, which encircled the promontory, and also represented the principle – symbolic and physical – of the civic and collective life of the community, which extended towards the river.

The unhealthy conditions of the area and the plague forced the religious orders to abandon the original settlement and settle in the furthest part of the consolidated core. In this new urban conformation, new architectural emergencies arose, among which the Dominican Convent of São Domingos, built on the Rossio Plateau, outside the city walls. The convent church, converted into a public library, and the remaining spaces now house the new MIAA.

The project is deeply rooted in the site, enhancing its characteristics while highlighting the specific conditions resulting from the various transformation processes. In fact, the new museum complex emphasises the character of the convent type, adapting the existing spaces to the exhibition and logistical needs of a museum.

The Portuguese architect implements precise design choices that, through precise interventions, make explicit the inherent values of the entire complex. The cloister becomes the spatial structure that regulates and organises the spaces around it: no longer cells, but new places capable of revealing an unexpected architectural quality and flexibility.

A silent but necessary project of restoration and regeneration, enhancing the infrastructural system of the historic building by welcoming new types of spaces and possible future uses.

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