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ALKANARA - Espaço Alkantara is closed - ©Joana Linda
@ Joana Linda

Espaço Alkantara is closed

Reabrimos em julho

  • 02.03 — 01.07 2022
  • News

At the beginning of 2022, we took a hard look at the studio with some of the technicians who work with us and our architect. In the five years we have been making plans for a new building — which include infrastructural improvements to the existing space — our studio has become an uncomfortable and unsafe space in which to work. Our water and sewage mains, which run through the studio, need substitution. Same for the electrical. The styrofoam and plywood boards we use to level out the cement floor are no longer doing their job. Parts of the walls are crumbling, making it impossible to keep the space clean. It’s cool in the summer, but too cold in the winter. Much of our technical equipment is stored off-site, where it is of little use to the artists in our studio. Whenever there are public events, we give up our offices upstairs to improvise dressing rooms for performers.


After successive delays (read the full story below), it has become clear that our new building will have to wait for a better funding strategy and more favourable conditions in the construction market. In order to keep working in our existing studio, we need to address the pipes and the floors and the walls — and we need to close in order do so.


We’ve decided to close for the first six months of 2022. We are meeting with our partners in the Lisbon City Council, with a proposal to apply our existing funding to making the studio at Espaço Alkantara artist and audience ready. We hope to reopen in July, for a residency with Gaya de Medeiros and the premiere of her work Atlas da Boca, presented in avant-premiere at last year’s Alkantara Festival/Teatro Nacional D. Maria II.


In the meantime, we will continue to run the PISTA programme online, with our partners Polo Cultural Gaivotas|Boavista/Loja Lisboa Cultura. We will host artists in residency at Estúdios Victor Córdon, as part of the Em Trânsito programme. We are producing a new work by Vânia Doutel Vaz, who will be in residency this spring in New York, Montemor-o-Novo, and Paris. And we will continue to prepare this year’s Alkantara Festival, running from November 11-27.

THE FULL STORY

Espaço Alkantara is located in a heritage building at 99 Calçada Marquês de Abrantes in the Santos neighbourhood in Lisbon. It has been our centre of operations since the city granted Alkantara the use of the building in 2007.


Since 2017, we have been planning the renovation of a sorely dilapidated part of our building.


The plan, designed by our long-time architect Jordi Fornells (Vo-ar), is to create a new studio space and transform the existing studio into storage, office, and multipurpose spaces. (Have a look at the 2017 renovation, also designed by Jordi, here.)


In 2018, we signed a financing agreement with Lisbon City Council that would allow us to rebuild the rapidly deteriorating structure. We were able to conclude the first step in the process. The roof and part of the existing structure was demolished, including our ground floor washrooms, dressing room, and technical storage. We built two new bathrooms, restored our original front door, and put up a wall in our foyer to create a small storage space.

In April of that year, we lit up the debris at our festival launch party and later presented Vaca 35’s Lo único que necessita un gran actriz es un gran obra y las ganas de triunfar under the remaining concrete slab.


For a year, we waited for approval from the city to begin construction. When it finally arrived in July 2019, the remaining concrete slab was no longer structurally sound and was unfit to build on. Instead, we tore it down and consolidated the remaining exterior walls.We made plans for a new building. In December, we submitted an amended project to the city. In September 2020, our new plans were approved and additional technical documents requested. Full approval came in April 2021.


Over the following months we contacted over two dozen construction companies. Only one agreed to send us a budget — for four times the amount we have available. Meanwhile, we installed shades and artists in residence and guest curators made good use of the patio.

During the November 2021 Alkantara Festival, the studio was home base for the Terra Batida project, with a programme of performances and parties.


At the beginning of 2022, we took a hard look at the studio with some of the technicians who work with us and our architect. In the five years we have been making plans for a new building — which include infrastructural improvements to the existing space — our studio has become an uncomfortable and unsafe space in which to work. Our water and sewage mains, which run through the studio, need substitution. Same for the electrical. The styrofoam and plywood boards we use to level out the cement floor are no longer doing their job. Parts of the walls are crumbling, making it impossible to keep the space clean. It’s cool in the summer, but too cold in the winter. Much of our technical equipment is stored off-site, where it is of little use to the artists in our studio. Whenever there are public events, we give up our offices upstairs to improvise dressing rooms for performers.


After successive delays (read the full story below), it has become clear that our new building will have to wait for a better funding strategy and more favourable conditions in the construction market. In order to keep working in our existing studio, we need to address the pipes and the floors and the walls — and we need to close in order do so.


We’ve decided to close for the first six months of 2022. We are meeting with our partners in the Lisbon City Council, with a proposal to apply our existing funding to making the studio at Espaço Alkantara artist and audience ready. We hope to reopen in July, for a residency with Gaya de Medeiros and the premiere of her work Atlas da Boca, presented in avant-premiere at last year’s Alkantara Festival/Teatro Nacional D. Maria II.

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