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Architects criticise the choice for Portugal's Pavilion at Expo2025

Atualizado: 28 de mar.



Last week, Portugal Decoded announced that acclaimed Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma was chosen to design the Portuguese Pavilion at the Osaka World Expo 2025 (Expo2025) to be held from 13 April to 13 October next year.


However, the architect's choice has not pleased everybody. The Portuguese Architects' Association (OA) lamented that this will be the first time that the country will present a national pavilion at a world exhibition with a building not designed by a Portuguese architect, criticising the "requirements requested by Portugal in the Construction Design Competition".

"The OA (...) is deeply displeased with the way Portuguese architects have been treated. It is regrettable that, considering the prestige and recognition of Portuguese architects on the international scene, Portugal is presented with a building that does not have Portuguese authorship or, at least, co-authorship," reads a note published on the OA website.

Here’s a rough translation of the statement published at the OA’s website:


“The Portuguese Association of Architects is not surprised that PORTUGAL, for the first time, is presenting a National Pavilion at a World Expo that has not been designed by a Portuguese architect, but it is deeply displeased with the way Portuguese architects have been treated. It is regrettable that, considering the prestige and recognition of Portuguese architects on the international scene, PORTUGAL is presenting a building that does not have Portuguese authorship or at least co-authorship.


Many will wonder why the architect of the PORTUGAL PAVILION at the OSAKA 2025 World Expo is Japanese. The answer is simple: because Portugal wanted it to be so, and held a competition with parameters that induced this to happen. The problem lies in the requirements requested by Portugal in this CONSTRUCTION DESIGN COMPETITION, which stipulates that the coordinator and author must be an architect who has “more than 6 years’ experience as the person technically responsible for the design and construction of buildings in Japan, of similar characteristics, started and completed in the last 10 years”, adding that these works must have a construction value of “more than two million euros”. It allows national or foreign authors, but only to develop the execution project.


This is how Portugal, as a member of the Bureau since 1932, has prepared its presence in Osaka, making this process not only a model for design-build but also a model for construction. In fact, this is the only possible interpretation of the statements made by those responsible for the Portuguese Exhibition, who are delighted that a building designed by a Japanese architect that will attract many visitors to our pavilion, since it is estimated that 80% of the public at the Osaka Exhibition will be Japanese.


But we might think that Portugal is not unique and that the Pavilions of other countries, particularly European ones, were also designed by architects who are not representatives of their respective countries. It turns out that the author of the Spanish Pavilion is Nestor Montenegro, from Madrid; the author of the Italian Pavilion is Mario Cucinela, from Palermo; the co-authors of the French Pavilion are the CAAU - Coldefy & Associés studio, from Lille; the authors of the Dutch Pavilion are the RAU Architects studio, from Amsterdam; the author of the Belgian Pavilion is Cyril Rousseaux, from Charleroi; the Swiss Pavilion is by the NUSSLI group and Manuel Herz, from Basel; the US Pavilion is by Trahan, from New Orleans; the Chinese Pavilion is by CADG, from Beijing; and the Brazilian Pavilion is by Marcio Kogan, from São Paulo.

We emphasise that the Portuguese Architects' Association has the utmost respect for the figure and the work of the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, and follows the work that this architect has done in Portugal, with national partnerships of enormous quality (which, in the case of Expo 2025, do not exist), and at no time does it intend to question the knowledge and ability of the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.”

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