Portugal! Here comes trouble!
Plans to build a multipurpose arena in Lisbon date back to the first discussions of the Expo ’98 Master Plan. At the time, the city lacked a versatile facility able to accommodate concerts, congresses and sporting events of big scope. The existing structures, both in Lisbon and in Portugal alike, either had limited capacity (up to 4,000 people), or were difficult to adapt to non-conventional events, such as world class indoor sports competitions. Another shortcoming of existing venues was the lack of technical infrastructure deemed necessary to host modern concerts, musicals and to allow for proper live TV coverage.
The country needed an arena to fill the existing gap between smaller indoor halls, like the Lisbon Coliseum, and open-air stadiums. As a consequence, Portugal would not host games of important indoor sports championships and no major concerts would take place in the country in periods of cold and rainy weather.
The decision to build the Pavilhão Atlântico within the masterplan of Expo 98 allowed the arena to have a catchment area well beyond the city of Lisbon itself. Being a short distance from Gare do Oriente (the most important public transport hub in Portugal) and several major highway interchanges, allows the arena to draw spectators from all over the country.
Shakira holds the attendance record at the Pavilion when, on the 4th of April 2007, 20,000 fans attended her Oral Fixation Tour, concert. The Colombian artist also held the previous record, when 19,136 spectators attended her Tour Of The Mongoose gig in April 27 of 2003.
The building was designed by Portuguese architect Regino Cruz, who is the author of several government and office buildings in Brazil and in Portugal, in association with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM).
SOM has been awarded first prize in the contests for the Olympic stadiums of Manchester and Berlin, and is responsible for designing many big sporting pavilions in the U.S.A. (Portland, Philadelphia, Oakland or Minneapolis). The studio is also co-designer of Vasco Da Gama Tower, located at the northern end of Parque das Nações in Lisbon. The shape of Pavilhão do Atlântico remembers that of a spaceship but also resembles a horseshoe crab. Such a unique shape demanded out-of-the box thinking for its underpinnings, both for structural and symbolic reasons. The roof, for example, sits atop a wood grid, designed in the shape of a carrack. Being part of a world expo celebrating the world’s oceans and 15th century Portuguese discoveries, wood was considered more fitting than either concrete or steel.
The main goals of the design were: 1) Minimize the visual impact generated from such a big structure; 2) rational energy use; 3) simplify the flow of spectators in and out of the building.
The main façade is oriented towards the south, which increases sun exposure during the colder winter months, at the same time preventing direct sunlight in the summer months. In that way heating and a/c costs were significantly reduced. The same energy efficiency was persuaded by placing natural ventilation outlets on top of the building. Placing the main floor 6.4m below ground level allowed for a generously high roof at the same time reducing the external footprint and minimizing heat exchange due to smaller surface area exposed to the weather. Accessibility is also straightforward by means of a short stadium-seating like external staircase that surrounds the entire building.
The external glass façade is shaded by overhanging panels, designed to allow sunlight in only on winter months. A system of external moving blinds further increases the possibility of taking the most of natural lighting.
“Oceans and Utopias”
During the timespan of EXPO’ 98, the building was called Pavilion of Utopia, housing the spectacle “Oceans and Utopias”.
While in other main pavilions of the EXPO’ 98 (as the one of Portugal, Knowledge of the Seas or of the Future) the approach of the main theme “oceans” had an artistic, scientific, or historical perspective, at the arena, a symbolic, dreamlike, and magical interest approach prevailed. As such, during the 132 days of the exposition, the Pavilion of Utopia was an open space to the imagination, reflecting the fears, myths and legends that throughout history, been associated with the World’s Oceans.
Visitors were awarded with sights of Daedalus, Greek Goods, mythical heroes such as Hercules, as well as colorful displays portraying the birth of mankind and goods, the Big Bang, the Deluge, Atlantis, the Age of Discovery, space travel and etc. Written by François I Confine and Phillipe Genty, and produced by Rozon, the show, which was presented four times a day, mixed classic theatrical elements and modern multimedia technology.
One of the most remarkable events to ever take place there were the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2005.
In addition, World Wrestling Entertainment has presented five house shows there, on December 4 & 5, 2006 and June 8 & 9, 2007. The December 4 event was the first WWE event in 13 years to take place in Portugal. All the shows were sold out. To be noted that the December 2006 events featured the SmackDown! brand and the June 2007 featured the RAW brand. The RAW brand returned to the arena on April 19, 2008. On September 24, 2008, the SmackDown/ECW Live Tour was held at the arena.
The tenth installment of Dave Matthews Band – Live Trax series was recorded at Pavilhão Atlântico in May 2007. Pop superstar Kylie Minogue announced a show in the arena as part of her KylieX2008 Tour.
- 30 Seconds to Mars, 50 Cent, ABC, Bryan Adams, Anastacia, Rick Astley, Charles Aznavour, B52s, Backstreet Boys, Beyoncé, Biffy Clyro, The Black Eyed Peas, Andrea Bocelli, Busta Rhymes, Carbon/Silicon, Belinda Carlisle, Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, Leonard Cohen, Coldplay, Joaquín Cortés, The Cure, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Dave Matthews Band, Depeche Mode, Plácido Domingo, The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Foreigner, Green Day, Guns N’ Roses, Ben Harper, Enrique Iglesias, Julio Iglesias, Il Divo, Incubus, Iron Maiden, Elton John, Jack Johnson, Juanes, Judas Priest, Nik Kershaw, Alicia Keys, Korn, Lenny Kravitz, Lady Gaga, Lemar, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Madness, Madonna, Marillion, Marilyn Manson, Ricky Martin, Meat Loaf, Megadeth, Metallica, George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Moby, Muse, Oasis, The Offspring, Pearl Jam, P!nk, Pussycat Dolls, Eros Ramazzotti, Rammstein, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rihanna, Santana, Scorpions, Shakira, Sigur Rós, Simply Red, Slipknot, The Stranglers, Supertramp, Testament, Tokio Hotel, The Tubes, Roger Waters, Westlife, Whitesnake, The Who, Kim Wilde and Robbie Williams, among others.
Elton John was scheduled to perform on 26 June 2009, but the show was canceled.
- Pedro Abrunhosa, Carlos do Carmo, Mickael Carreira, Tony Carreira, Clã, D’ZRT, Da Weasel, GNR, Mariza, Rui Veloso and Xutos e Pontapés, among others.
The Atlantic Pavilion is member of the ATL – Association of Tourism of Lisbon – and active member of the EAA – Association of Arenas Europeias. Through this kind of connections it is possible establish a close relationship with the main auditoriums in Europe and benefit from synergies of scale.