Hotel megastructures: the Balaia “turn key” experience in Portugal





Modern Movement, Modern architecture, Modern housing


The Balaia Hotel (1964–1968) near Albufeira, in the Algarve, designed by Francisco Conceição Silva and Maurício de Vasconcellos, is one of the first and most iconic seaside holiday megastructures built in Portugal. In its territorial approach, physical dimension and range of amenities, it represents a new stage of development in seaside tourism accommodation facilities. A self-contained and self-sufficient structure that shapes its own landscape. Also, the “turn key” commission implied the transition from the small-scale architecture office to the multidisciplinary design and planning firm, revolutionizing the Portuguese architectural culture and professional practice. This essay addresses the impact of the Balaia Hotel on the traditional structures of architecture production and, consequently, on the disciplinary debate of the 1960s in Portugal.

How to Cite

Lobo, S. (2019). Hotel megastructures: the Balaia “turn key” experience in Portugal. Docomomo Journal, (60), 42–49.




Author Biography

Susana Lobo, University of Lisbon

(b. Lourenço Marques, Portugal, 1973) Architect (2002) and PhD in Architecture (2013), University of Coimbra. She is Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra and member of the Coimbra Studio PhD program. Her research interests focus on Portuguese Architecture, Urbanism and Design of the 20th century, with expertise on tourism and leisure infrastructure. On these topics she has published, curated, organized and supervised several books, articles, exhibitions, scientific events and academic theses. She is researcher at CITUA– IST/UL (Centre for innovation in territory, urbanism and architecture – Superior Technical Institute/Lisbon University) and associate researcher at CES-UC (Centre of Social Studies – Coimbra University).


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