The Preparation of the park and the provisional installations (1957-1963)
On 30 April, 1957, Vasco Vill’Alva sold 69,283 m2 of the Santa Gertrudes Park to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which was established by Decree-Law No. 4690 of 18 July, 1956.
The deed signed between Vasco Maria Eugénio da Almeida and representatives of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 1957 refers to the sale of six sevenths of the total area of Santa Gertrudes Park.
The part that remained in the hands of the Eugénio de Almeida family would continue to be called Santa Gertrudes Park or House of Santa Gertrudes. The highlighted plot, owned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, was to be called Palhavã Park, upon the signing of the property deed and until 1965. It is bordered at the north by the Avenida de Berna and to the south by the wall that separates it from the building from which was it was detached, built in alignment with the Avenida Miguel Bombarda. The east and west face, respectively, the Avenida Marquês Sá da Bandeira and the former Estrada de Benfica.
The land acquired by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
The land acquired by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, as the deed refers, is intended: b) “to construct the necessary buildings, now and in the future, both for the installation of the services of said Foundation and for the accomplishment of its statutory purposes, and (…) c) (…) not only for its own use, but also for public use, under the conditions established by the Lisbon Municipal Council, in accordance with the general regulations of enclosed parks and municipal gardens d) That, for the purpose of the previous paragraphs, and without prejudice to what is stipulated therein, soon after the construction of the palace, museum and library that, first, the “Foundation” proposes to build on the site, the “Foundation” will construct, in the remaining part under its charge, the aforementioned park; e) that the conservation of the park and its police, after it is open for public use, will be the responsibility of the Lisbon Municipal Council. (…) “.
The guidelines for the acquired plot of land were issued; one part would be occupied with the construction of the Foundation’s Headquarters and Museum and the remaining area would be a park that, despite being in the private domain, was open to the public.
Start of the process
On June 15, the first Geotechnical Report on the characteristics of the Park lands was presented [i] . Here the biophysical conditions of the Park of Palhavã are preliminarily evaluated after they were selected among several options.
In June 1957 a first programme for the installation of the Headquarters and Museum was presented by the Fine Arts and Museum Service and by the Project and Works Service, which, after being evaluated and discussed, was accepted in September.
On 19 January, 1958, the Foundation announced that the Scholarships, Beneficence, Fine Arts, Projects and Works, Travelling Libraries and Accounting Services were operating in the Santa Gertrudes Park, with entrance by the Avenida Berna. The Central Administration and other services of the Institution would continue to operate on Rua de S. Nicolau [ii], but for a short period of time because a month later, Azeredo Perdigão in a letter addressed to Pedro Teotónio Pereira, raised the possibility of its transfer to Palhavã [iii].
These provisional installations of the Foundation’s services, with a covered area of 3354 m2 [iv], occupied a strip of land near the Avenida de Berna.
The proximity to the Avenida de Berna results from the understanding that this route would become a structuring axis of Lisbon, establishing the connection between the eastern and western parts of the city.
The location for these temporary facilities (which were only demolished on 26 July, 1969) indicates that the possibility of the definitive buildings of the Headquarters and Museum being located at this border of the land, was never considered.
A garden project was also prepared – Garden of the Provisional Installations for these temporary facilities.
[i] Proposing that geological surveys be carried out, indispensable for the study of the foundations for the new buildings and defining the conditions in which they should be carried out F.C.G Archive SPO Folder 103, process 55, vol.1
[ii] F.C.G (Pre. Arch. P1983 616).
[iii] 17 February, 1958 – Letter from Azeredo Perdigão to Theotónio Pereira:
“Facilities in Palhavã Park -> All our services, except for the Administration, Central Secretariat and services of the Middle East and Armenian Communities, are installed in the pavilions made for this purpose built in Palhavã.
Everything is going well, but the fact that I have to go to Palhavã every day is excess work that is becoming unbearable.
On the other hand, the fact that there are services installed in Palhavã impairs their coordination. The lease of Rua de S. Nicolau Street ends on 31 December of this year. The rent is Esc. 9,000 (nine thousand escudos) per month. It seems to me, therefore, a great advantage to construct, in Palhavã, a new building, annexed to the existing ones, to which the services currently in Rua and S. Nicolau are transferred. This way, I and Mr. Essayan can spend most of the day in touch with all services.
Although these are temporary pavilions and their construction may cost a few hundred contos, the expense is largely compensated, not only by the greater efficiency of services but also by the savings on the rental of the house at Rua de S. Nicolau, which, at present , is Esc. 108,000 (one hundred and eight thousand escudos) per year.
I would like to know your opinion in this regard. “(Signed Azeredo Perdigão.) Arch. Pres. Folder 108-27.
[iv] In AZEREDO PERDIGÃO, José de, Relatório do Presidente, 1961, pp.197-198
Documents of this phase