D. Dinis Secondary School by Bak Gordon



Architectural photographer Leonardo Finotti has sent us images of a school in Lisbon, Portugal, recently modernised by Portuguese studio Bak Gordon Arquitectos.


The original buildings are typical of the schools built in Portugal during the 70's, which lacked many basic necessities such as thermal and acoustic insulation.


As well as modernising the existing buildings, Bak Gordon also created a new central building which connects the pavilions and houses social activities.


Construction of the project had to be complete within six months, greatly influencing many of the design decisions made.


Photographs are by Leonardo Finotti.


See also our earlier story about House at Sobral da Lagoa by Bak Gordon.

Here's info from architects Ricardo Bak Gordon:


Project Description

The modernisation project of the D. Dinis Secondary School was particularly pioneering in the context of the reforms being carried out by Parque Escolar, and simultaneously corresponds to a typology that includes around 70% of the secondary schools in Portugal – the pavilion schools.


The pavilion projects, which were mostly constructed in the seventies, were rudimentary projects from the programmatic and functional point of view and from the constructive point of view. The absence of thermal and acoustic insulation, of acclimatization and other infrastructure revealed all at once, the scarcity of the undertaking’s structure.


This modernisation reform sat in first place of the planned improvements: adding and replacing functional spaces (for example the library, multi-use room, study areas for students and teachers, departmental spaces etc.) in an epicentre position facing the existing constructions and around which, all the school’s activity gravitates. On the other hand the reform aims to improve the architectural and structural conditions and respective infrastructure in the existing buildings. Lastly, the reform offers the school conditions that permit better management and use of their own resources.


The new building, that distinguishes the D. Dinis Secondary School, is a type of central space, without beginning or end, where the vital functions of the new school are installed, and where all the existing pavilions are united. This new space was, in the first debates that preceded the modernisation Project, named the “learning street.”


The constructive system of this new building wasn’t indifferent to the fact that all the construction had to been completed in only six months. Therefore the Project leant towards the typology of a clean project, metal structure and external walls in “sandwich” system, finished with corrugated iron both on the exterior and interior. The roof is also metal plate, on top of which the respective thermal and acoustic insulations are supported.


In contrast to the colour of white on the peripheral wall, the continuous flooring is red. The flooring is an element that extends to the existing constructions and which therefore unifies the group of pavilions.


It is hoped that the result of this work will be the catalyst for a better performing and happier school for all of its population and if possible will be redeemable in one’s memory in the future.


Escola Secundária D. Dinis
Location: Chelas, Lisboa
Design phase: 2007
Construction phase: 2007 – 2008
Client: Parque Escolar EPE
Architect: Ricardo Bak Gordon
Collaborators: Luís Pedro Pinto, Pedro Serrazina, Sónia Silva, Vera Higino, Walter Perdigão


Structural engineering: BETAR
Landscape design: PROAP
General contractor: MOTA-ENGIL
Site area: 25.730 m2
Built area: 1500.00m2
Cost per m2: 800.00 €

Posted on Monday June 29th 2009 at 12:59 pm by Brad Turner. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Peter

    It´s an “ok” project, but not to classify it as outstanding. Anyways, good job… keep on trying.

  • Tolga Yagli

    clear understanding of modernity… clever and tasteful

  • Xit

    School = Prison ?

  • derma

    Is that a school or a Jail! For us architects it’s interesting but I wonder what the students think?

  • K

    yup quite a prison, with race orange colour thrown there and here

  • Salvadore

    its nice, but a little to much for a school.

  • Scarpasez

    Overall a good project, though it could use a little more varied color and texture in the finishes. Some acid-staining of the exposed concrete could transform it, as could encouraged/subversive student art installations along some of the open spaces/walls.

  • nick the greek

    This school will either turn out brilliant architects or complete psychopaths.

  • The stone texture as well as the huge white space are quite depressing. Anything else seems okay.

  • Seb

    Aren’t brillant architects complete psychopaths?

  • slater

    Xit, you couldn’t have said it any better! As if we need to give kids anymore reason to not want to go to school….

  • jinx

    This is great idea but in one condition that teachers will not forbid to write on the walls :)

  • Sorry, but I thought as of a prison as well at the first sight. Also the naked concrete is just overwhelmingly ugly. Like the worst cases of the seventies. Modern doesn’t mean repeating the mistakes of 40 years ago.

  • jc

    a bit severe

  • yrag

    I’m with Xit
    School = Prison ?

    Way to crush a spirit —in Louis Khan lockdown.

    Give those punks Concrete Brutalist—why shield the cold harsh truth— birth, school, work, death.

    If the walls and floors were a pastel green instead orange or red I’d swear those kids were in juvie.

    Have a disciplined, nonspontaneous day.

  • yaniv

    this is appauling… learning is supposed to be inspiring and exciting!

  • I must admit, I am not a fan of this project, for an educational facility the spaces seem too ‘heavy’ and lack energy or inspiration.

  • m

    the naked concrete and red floor have a sesc-pompeie-ish quality to it … knowing portuguese architecture, this project might actually be a lot more exiting in reality than the pictures show….

  • Bruno

    Before saying that the project looks like a prison, one should read the text first.
    People this is a refurbishment not a new building. If you see the before pictures then you understand the goodness of this project.

  • James S.

    The project is a refurbishment, thats true, but all the photos in this page are from the new building that stands up in the middle of the old ones. Anyway, even if the images were from the refurbishment, that would not justify this kind of materials, colors, scale, light and space situations, that are just sad, confusing and claustrophobic. I would never put my kids on that school!! If this is a good example of the modernization that is being carried out, they should stop and think what kind of space/school they want: A School where people learn, make friends and grow up as a person, or a flashy fashion low budget TV studio built in record time, where kids perform like the stars from teenage series!

  • The floor color prevents bad media after a shooting, well thougth!