Shadow Surface by Ateliermob


Portuguese architects Ateliermob have completed a cafeteria and shelter with circular holes cut into the roof at Sacavem, near Lisbon in Portugal.

Called Shadow Surface, the structure consists of a large concrete roof supported by three walls, providing a sheltered space for the residents to meet and sit in the shared courtyard.

The concrete slab, which was cast in-situ, is randomly punctured with holes to allow sunlight and rain through.

The single-storey cafeteria is positioned between this structure and a children's playground; full-height windows overlook the playground.

A lift and staircase at one end of the shelter lead to underground parking.

The project aims to unite the surrounding residential blocks.

Photographs are by João Morgado.

Photographs are copyright Joao Morgado and used with permission. See our copyright policy.

Here's some text from the architects:


The cafeteria and shadow surface project at Sacavem - in the periphery of Lisbon, is finished.

These works are very special to ateliermob, since it represents our first public work.

Integrated in the renovation of Av. do Estado da Índia (main traffic axes of Sacavém), we were called to design two different constructions in between buildings.

The cafeteria closes the children public playground and links different axes of circulation.

The shadow surface plotted on the top of the public square and over the parking, tries to thread and gather all the different content and functionalities of the square.

Posted on Tuesday November 17th 2009 at 12:09 am by Ruth Hynes. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Yes, I will climb that.

  • do that in holland and the only reasons you notice the holes is , because you get rained on! jalouse!

  • Diego

    Must be siesta time – where are all the locals! That is sad.
    Overall..I like the look & feel as well as how they relate together.
    Nice thought to have full windows over-looking the playground.
    But all that paving & concrete without any greenery looks rather spartan.
    Would have been an idea to have some grass on that nice thick piece of slab..especially from the 4th floor.

  • s

    nice! hi from rotterdam, ruth. -s

  • Love it. There’s no way you could get away with that in rainy England!

  • Finners

    It’s far too hard as a space.
    It needs some greenery and something to break it up, not a friendly environment.
    Thumbs down (N)

  • okomisaki

    Personally, I think it could be better if the roof is designed as a landscaped garden instead. This will provide a more pleasant environment and a less hostile view for the residents overlooking the cafe & shelter.

  • dw

    similar effect with Gramazio&Kohler project

    although theirs is not realized yet.

  • kolohe

    Am i the only one who is just unmoved by this?

  • Feio

    I like this, really nice. But take a look at those digusting buildings surrounding it. That is the common architecture seen all over (sub)urban residential areas in Portugal, the box-type, small-rectangle windowed buildings. UGLY!

  • i’m disappointed. portugal has so much sun too play with (as we can see in these shots) and projects like this one could and should be more daring. i don’t think there’s enough playfulness between the existing buildings and this project. concrete is too stiff to “unite the surrounding residential blocks”.

    being portuguese i truly believe it’s important to start to introduce more often new materials and new approaches to the portuguese architecture. in portugal we have fantastic natural resources to make architecture and design more interactive.

    well, in the end of the day the only thing that matters here is that the local community likes the space and i hope they do.

  • Guido

    I agree that it should look greener!

    And in hot Portugal, this concrete structure won’t make it less warmer I think. I’d rather sit underneath some nice trees with a chilly breeze!

  • I think this neighborhood doesn’t need concrete structure but something lively with less straight lines. I afraid that in few months this ‘courtyard’ will look exactly like its ugly neighborhood.

  • neuhaus

    nice structures, but wrong context and location.

    Is this located in a social/low income housing project? If so, it makes the public spaces more desolete and cold, not something you want in an already depressing environment.

  • rmb

    I agree with the fact that it need some sort of greenery. It is cool as an early concept but not something that should have been built as is. It is a lazy solution. They could have done so much more with the site. I can't seem to look past the fact that there were no considerations made for the surrounding residents or any environmental concerns.