Vodafone headquarters by Barbosa & Guimaraes


Portuguese photographer Nelson Garrido has sent us his photos of the new headquarters for mobile phone brand Vodafone in Porto, designed by architects Barbosa & Guimaraes of Matosinhos in Portugal.

Called Oporto Vodafone Building, the project has a faceted concrete shell with angular windows.

The architects aimed to create a sense of movement and irregularity.

The building has eight floors, three of which are underground.

The ground floor comprises a shop, cafe and entrance hall.

Offices are located on the remaining storeys above ground, with parking and training facilities housed in the subterranean floors.

Photographs are copyright Nelson Garrido and used with permission. See our copyright policy.

Here's some text from the architects:



In July 2006, when we were invated to the new building competition, through the media, radio, television and newspapers we could notice the following slogan: "VODAFONE LIFE, LIFE IN MOTION."

This sentence reflects the attitude and philosophy of Vodafone.

We believe that the new building should be faithful to this idea, adopting a dynamic image, conveying the sense of movement, challenging the static.

Seeking inspiration from painting, sculpture, photography, arts which had already faced this dilemma, the office building, designed usually linear, begins to become an irregular body, out of balance, with many faces in motion.

The formalization of this concept is based on the concrete, which through its plasticity, allows to create irregular and free-form shapes, working both as a structural solution and exterior appearence, creating a unique shape, a monolithic building, bringing cohesion and unity to the set.

The technical complexity of the building leads to a periphery structural solution, a shell of concrete, like an egg, reducing internal support to the two stairwells and three central pillars, allowing great versatility in its interior space use.

Functionally, the building has eight floors working three as underground.

On the ground floor, in addition to the auditorium, we have a store facing the Boavista Avenue, the cafeteria and office acess.

In the four upper floors appears the offices working as open-space with an accessible terrace.

In the underground, the floors -3 and -2, are working as car parking facilities and the -1 floor is occupied by technical areas and training rooms.

Posted on Monday November 23rd 2009 at 12:30 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Likes It.

    There are some incredibly nice moments. Quite successful.

  • this looks beautiful for me … my first thought was this is an iceberg – this is clean and rough design together … brilliant!

  • facader

    like this! it is not facade treatment anymore but the facade influences the spaces inside.
    like the 5th picture… the space is amazing!

  • Bryce


  • bebo

    well, i realy liked the interior, but i think that the openning system is too repeatitive for a what called a dynamic facade.

  • This seems to have been executed really successfully. Normally I hate this style of architecture, i sort of understand the whole ‘life in motion’ theme but it seems a bit of a wank, however what i am impressed by is the freeformed ‘faceting’ and ‘triangulation’ which has been really paired back and abstracted as much as possible instead of turning it into thousands of complex elements. Internally it looks pretty simple and that’s probably a good thing. Good work!

  • G

    “The architects aimed to create a sense of movement and irregularity.”

    And they succeeded!

    I’m normally a bit of an ortho-lover myself but this I really like.

  • paul

    Nice building but doesn’t have anything to do with the Vodafone brand. You could swap out the badge with Orange, Texaco, Porsche etc and the post rationalisation for making it like it is could be superimposed just the same.

  • willem

    very impressive design, but what is the contribution to environment, buiding lifetime, cooling, flexibility?? of course, in portugal everything is possible because of the nice climate.
    but vodafone can’t afford herself neglecting these items. i am very interested in the architects reaction, but i can’t get it out of this pure formalistical dezeen article.

  • Sim

    looks wobbly and unstable. don’t think that’s the movement vodafone wants to stand for.

  • nidol
  • ss_sk

    I dislike dead/unreachable spaces/corners and it seems (garage image) they couldn’t (wouldn’t?) avoid them.

    The ‘motion’ logo is sucesfully translated. But that doesn’t say much about the quality of the interior working space – the last photo isn’t exactly intriguing (is this the back of a storage cabinet I see?).

  • Amaizing photos. Buker style comeback?

  • gab xiao

    who cares anymore for such architecture? I like it, although it looks outdated…

  • hair piece

    Amazing, a well resolved and unique design. It’s so geometric and conceptual that it seems likely to have failed had not so much attention been paid. Very well done!

  • modular

    People should be reminded that this is very near to ‘Casa da Musica’ designed by Rem.

    Influences? Take a closer look….

    > http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Casa_da_musica.JPG
    > http://87bpm.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/casa-da-musica.jpg

    People in Porto don’t really like this building at all. It’s just too obvious considering the “other” building near it. Plus, even the communication design is similar to ‘Casa da Musica’. I wonder why they didn’t post a picture of it here ;)

    By the way, a couple of workers died during the construction of this building. Which is kinda sad as well.

  • betuwill

    all i can think of is,…FOA. (great job!)

  • lior

    An absolute brilliant piece of architecture, so simple and yet so dramatic. I love the way it looks like it defy gravity. BRILLIANT!

  • kolohe

    not everyone in porto hates casa da musica.
    some people actually think it activates an otherwise static/sleepy area of the city.

    agreed, it is sad and unfortunate that some workers died during the construction, but unless the architects were negligent in designing an unsafe construction condition that the contractor failed to identify/take precautions for ahead of an accident, is this the fault of the building design?

  • modular

    Kolohe, people don’t hate Casa da Musica. They dislike THIS building ;)

    Regarding the ‘problems’ with the construction, dunno who fault was. Probably the constructors…

    Anyway, I just feel this building is dumb.

  • ArchTech

    I would like to more about the Barbosa & Guimaraes and who were the architects inside the atellier that conceived this beautiful “iceberg”. Does any one have references from these authors?

  • xmmot


  • ART

    Thow it’s an incredible shape it has nothing to do with it’s enviroment. Portuguese citys have all of them more than 200 years, and Porto, specialy because it had no destruction in the 1755 earthquake, is a full, traditional and complex city with no need for buildings like this or ‘casa da musíca’.

    This kind of buildings can have a lot of positive impact in new, modern urban enviroments, but they seem out of place in a city like Porto.

    I do like the design by it self, give it a ‘A’, but in architecture terms I grade it a ‘C-‘ for it’s unpurpose sence.

  • garenk

    i was fortunate to visit porto and the case da musica and honestly do not understand what the relationship of this building with the other. is the concrete that makes them “equal”? if it is, let me tell you that is a very superficial analysis

  • great projects,the best architekt from opo pt…

  • Beatriz

    I’m actually from Porto and have passed by this building a lot of times and I have to say that while these photos make it look quite nice and smart, it’s completetly out of place and unreasonable where it is. Like it was stated, Porto is an old city, with a lot of history and while that doesn’t say that there isn’t space to inovation, building such as this one should be integrated with the ones that surround it carefully. This building should have been done in a different context altogether, instead of squished between two regular appartment buildings, like Casa da Musica, that was built standing alone, with a lot of free space around that permited the idea to be heard without seeming inadequate in the middle of more classical arquitecture.
    Arquitects nowadays seem to think that it’s all about the statement and the building alone but maybe they should start considering context and the effect their work has on the area. Quite frankly, this building, where it is, is nothing more than an eye sore, which is a pity because it has the ability to be so much more, as we see in this pictures.

  • Although reminiscent of Gherys IAC building on the West Side Highway in NYC it also has a lot in common with Libeskinds Jewish Holocaust Museum in Berlin ( just in glass and light concrete ) Intellectually I am not convinced the the skin has much to do with the program. Triangulated windows have little to no hierarchy and it seems to be a morphed wrapper that could go around almost anything – much like Gherys project. It is the metorite that has crashed into the ground – so not so urban sensitive.
    Fomally I love it – especially the entry hall, although lifted from Libeskind a bit too literally. In the end its a futuristic and geometrically captivating form – but after the initial wow factor – its still a bit decon lite.

  • ste

    to compare this to casa de musica is really not accurate! casa de musica is a complex three dimensional space system with a nice interaction between smaller and bigger scale spaces packed in one abstract solid… this here is… positively spoken “a nice facade”… casa de music is an alien in a historical and complex city porto surely is… but it works in its own way and gives positive impacts to a whole area and provides new live… it defines spaces and interacts in its own strange way… this one here? well its a piece of design which can be scaled to 20cm or to 200m and still has no defined relation to its surrounding… so pelase look closer before talking about reminiscence!

  • modular

    ste, comparing to casa da musica not in a good way. Casa da musica has a purpose and it’s perfectly fit on the environment. This building not. This building looks like someone dumped it there….

  • luis feliciano monteiro

    just in portuguese tho…but good images, somentimes, don’t need subtitles!


  • stan

    self-serving architecture at it finest. it may have created a sense of movement, debatable, but what it destroys from the fabric of the existing structures is unconscionable

  • Q

    nice work enviroment not squizofrenic at all!people don´t have enough stress in their lifes they have to go to sit on a desk in the oporto libeskind jewish scrapyard kind of interior space…

  • Zhaleh

    Interesting envelope,… but how about space making role of architecture? There isn’t much articulation about the interior space it seems (from the photos at least)… It looks like an object to be looked from outside,.. the interior experience (other than having interesting windows) is no special!

  • kolohe

    hi modular,
    i’m sorry for misinterpreting your comment that
    “People in Porto don’t really like this building at all”
    as indicating that they hate it.

    i think it’s rather comical when people say that a ‘historically significant’ city must remain a relic in order to maintain its architectural or cultural significance. yet life goes on, people continue to live, and the world evolves around them. the future prosperity of cities and architecture are interrelated. i can’t argue however with beatriz’ comment that (and without seeing more photos) perhaps the building could have been sited more contextually (either to give more relief to what’s around it, or to amplify it’s difference). i do think that casa da musica does benefit from its location being rather open and at a particular node in the city, drawing interest from its peculiarity while maintaining the identity and flow of the city around it.

    it seems that so much modern work in portugal plays off of the contradiction of modernity either superimposed or inserted within the framework of historical precedent. these works seem to gain an energy from that contrast. you see it in the work of siza, souto moura, irmaos aires mateus, byrne, carilho da graca, and it continues through younger designers.

  • jzi

    very interesting…nice one.. kadabest dabest…!!!! i seen this a many times before yet, it always amaze me to fullest…

  • João Rei

    It is “strange” but not from outer space! Very, very fresh!
    – looks nice, I hope it performs like it looks….
    – congratulations to VODAFONE and, mainly to our coleagues that developed the ideia.
    João Rei (arquitecto de Portugal)

  • the site consideration, the urban context awareness as well as the unique form are the most important achivments of this project.
    i realy advise all intersted urban design students to look at this project and learn the way the architect has respected the urban context.

  • Tiago Roiz

    Tinham de ser portugueses a dizer mal. É sempre a mesma coisa…

  • DMV

    Grande projecto, concordo com o Tiago Roiz, os Portugueses criticam a sua própria evolução de uma maneira ridícula… Congratulations for this beautiful project, very avant-garde and makes me proud to be Portuguese. Have visited it and it’s amazing the way everyone has something to say and all together most of them conclude it looks “foreigner” and although a bit out of place, amazing and beautiful.
    Brings hope and future for our rich cultured small country.

  • johnny

    I think the second picture shows that for me this building doesnt work very well. but it has been photographed well from good angles. It has been detailed well though, but that is to be expected with lots of money, the photos show these nice moments, but all together I don't feel it sits well.

  • muna

    That’s great work and brilliant creativity.