In 2015, a fire destroyed the three floors and the roof of the Museum of Portuguese Language, one of the most beloved museums in São Paulo. A reconstruction and restoration process started in a few months, and was completed in 2021. The museum is located in the central area of the city, in a 1901 building shared with the central train station.

Our practice was in charge of the lighting design project for the entire building, including the façade, in addition to the historical halls and rooms, a long-term exhibition, a temporary exhibition hall and also the inaugural temporary exhibition. These five projects were developed in different time-frames, and we are proud to share the lighting design for the façade.


The main goal for the lighting design concept was to create an integral reading of the building from different points of view and visual scales of the city and neighbourhood. Paulo Mendes da Rocha’s original idea for the Museum’s nocturnal visibility was an impression of naturalness, without decorative excesses. To create this effect, the light is developed in layers, in order to give volume and without accentuating too much the shadows of the architectural details.

From the marquee, which houses the entrance to the station, to the historic turrets, all elements receive continuous light, which comes from different angles of incidence, avoiding sharp shadows and providing a final result of soft light that bathes the entire façade.

The lighting design proposes that the building assumes the role of an urban landmark in the night landscape, a visual and affective reference, re establishing a relationship of exchange with users, the surroundings, and the city, by bringing the new and keeping its memory alive.

Additional Design

The reconstruction of the Museu da Língua Portuguesa is a partnership between the Government of São Paulo, through the Culture and Creative Economy Department, and the Fundação Roberto Marinho.

Architecture conception: Arte 3 – Pedro Mendes da Rocha and Brígida Garrido.
Architecture development: Metrópole – Ana Paula Pontes and Anna Helena Villela
Restoration: Wallace Caldas
Construction: Concrejato
Construction Management and Restoration of Facades, Frames and Coverage: Velatura Restaurações
FRM Technical Team: Lucia Basto, Larissa Torres Graça, Raquel Ferreira, Regina de Paula Vasconcelos
Sustainability and Waste Management – CTE

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