The mission of the National Coach Museum is to provide for the promotion, research and conservation of its collections in the firm belief that museums play a central role in the generation of human, social and economic growth. The recently inaugurated building leads the way in the making of new history for the museum, marked by our endeavour to include all of the necessary elements to accomplish this mission.
The new Coach Museum emerges, not only, as a cultural site but also as a public utility space. In the words of the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha “the Museum has no doors and relates to all of its surroundings”. The project is more than a museum; in the end it functions as an urban infrastructure providing a public utility space for the city.
Thus, two concerns coexist; on the one hand the primary need to expand the exhibition area of the museum and its technical support infrastructure, while on the other, the need to create additional attractions for the most visited museum in the country. Moreover, there was a need to bind one of Lisbon’s most prominent fronts, the Belém monument area, where the construction of the new building has created a new dynamism in the museum’s surrounding area, creating new public spaces and urban walkways in the city that are reminiscent of earlier times.
The new Coach Museum building comprises a main hall with a suspended nave and an annex, which is connected by an overpass, enabling circulation from one building to the other. This layout creates a gantry like structure directed towards an internal square, where the old Rua da Junqueira buildings also face.
The new museum encompasses premises for the permanent and temporary exhibitions, reception halls, and a workshop for conservation and restoration, a contribution towards the development of conservation and restoration activities of this unique legacy.
New spaces have been provided for the Library and the Archive, as well as an Auditorium, which will allow for the organization of a number of cultural activities that will greatly improve the scope of the public programs offered by the museum.
To accommodate visitors, restaurant services, a Museum Shop and a Tourist Information centre have been projected.
Reference must also be made to the surrounding areas of the new building, specifically, the Museum Square, a free public access area intended for the development cultural and leisure activities.