A pivotal moment in Lisbon’s modern history was its successful hosting of the World Expo in 1998.
The event saw unprecedented investment in the city and left a lasting legacy with more than 18 million people a year still visiting the commercial and leisure facilities developed on the 50 hectare Parque Expo.
One of the key commercial developments was a new Portuguese headquarters for Japanese tech giants Sony – a project that would also be a turning point for Broadway Malyan in the Portuguese capital.
Since opening the Lisbon studio in 1996, Margarida Caldeira and Stuart Rough – who remains based in the Lisbon studio as Broadway Malyan’s Group Chairman - had been steadily establishing a market niche in space planning and workplace fit out having successfully won projects with major corporate names such as BP, Oracle and Zenica as well as designing a new headquarters for BASF.
But according to Margarida it was winning a competition to design Sony’s new headquarters on Parque Expo that was the practice’s most important project in those early years.
She said: “Sony is one of the great global brands and in the late 1990s it was at the very cutting edge of the tech industry so to win the commission to design its Portuguese headquarters was an exciting prospect.
“The development was one of the first workplace buildings in the Expo zone and became a real landmark for the company which in turn had a really positive effect on our own reputation. The building has since been sold to new owners and remains a commercial success in this thriving part of the city.”
In 2004 the studio won its first commission outside of Portugal, supporting an existing retail client expand into the Chinese market. The project saw Lisbon work closely with Broadway Malyan’s emerging team in Shanghai in a collaborative approach that would be an important part of the Lisbon studio’s future strategy. The Lisbon studio also won a hospitality project in Angola, a first African project for the studio.
In the years that followed the successful delivery of the Sony headquarters – and many other projects besides – Broadway Malyan continued to steadily expand and by the early Millennium the studio had tripled its floor-space and was up to 20 staff, which included colleagues such as Victor Pais, Lydia Las Casas and Alexandre Vasconcelos, all of whom remain core members of the Lisbon studio today.
Margarida said: “There is always an element of luck in successfully recruiting the right team and this was a period of rapid expansion when many of today’s senior team first joined the company and who have since grown with the practice, playing a vital role in shaping the studio over the past 15 years or so.”
By 2008 when the global economic downturn decimated the Portuguese development market, the Lisbon studio had grown to almost 50 strong with the arrival of other senior designers such as David Whitehead – who is also a regional board director, Vasco Carvalho and Joao Fonseca and was extending its international reach as part of a conscious strategy to diversify into new markets.
Today the studio now has almost 60 staff and with a strong pipeline of Portuguese and international projects and with some of Broadway Malyan’s largest commissions now being led out of Lisbon.
Margarida added: “We have a developed a strong reputation here in Lisbon and that has allowed us to not only retain a great team but continue to attract the best young talent who are excited by architecture and continue to inject their enthusiasm into the practice. It is a great foundation for another 20 years.”