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Teatro Capitolio is located at Parque Mayer, an entertainment precinct in Lisbon which opened in 1922. Portuguese architect Luis Cristino da Silva (1896-1976) designed Capitolio in 1925-1929. The engineer Jose Belard da Fonseca (1899-1969) was responsible for the building’s adventurous reinforced concrete structure. When it opened to the public in 1931, it was an unprecedented statement in Portugal of the spirit of the modern world. The innovative entertainment venue combined a cinema / theatre hall with a roof-terrace for performances in the open. With its acclaimed pioneering functionalist architecture, Capitolio is an outstanding example from the early days of the Modern Movement in Europe.
The Capitolio is listed by the Portuguese State (1983) and registered in the Docomomo Iberico (1996).
The Capitolio closed in the 1980s and has since been left to ruin. Its restoration – long overdue – is being called for by the pressure group “Citizens for the Capitolio” together with the National Museum of Cinema, the National Museum of Theatre and Docomomo International.
The owner – the City Council of Lisbon – proposes its demolition and replacement with a new theatre designed by architect Frank O. Gehry.
The Teatro Capitolio has been selected by World Monuments Fund for the “World Monuments Watch – 100 Most Endangered Sites” list of 2006 (www.wmf.org). The forgotten but precious Capitolio – considered the first great Modern Movement building in Portugal – is in urgent need of rescue and attention.
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