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“This is a project that aims at happiness, where we want people to feel exclusive, with quality, history, value and a distinguished aesthetic. A space with a positive aura. It is all there for people to feel happy…”

For an architect, history is something that one can either refuse or accept. The first is a definite choice to replace the past with the future. New aesthetics, current materials, updated living standards. But the latter may come under many forms, from respectful restoration to carefully integrated new design. Ivens Arte is where the new and the old interact in a new life for the building under Samuel Torres de Carvalho’s work.

For the last three centuries, the building endured earthquakes, wars, revolutions and yet survived with remarkable authenticity. After successive alterations and a long period of decay, this late eighteenth century building went through a thorough survey of the existing structure and a selective removal of later additions revealing back its original space and a remarkable historic decoration.

An intricate interior gave way to wider rooms and a new internal organization, accommodating new services while respecting wall-paintings, decorative ceilings and extensive tile panels. Both internally and outside the building, new contemporary volumes – or ‘devices’ - seem to grow upwards or sideways, independent from historic surfaces, challenging preconceived ideas about the old and the new. The Ivens Arte now starts a new life chapter, adding another layer of art, a ‘total art’ form that combines contemporary architecture with selected artistic interventions by renowned ornamental artists.