Civil Engineering 1999

Atrium Saldanha Building
Eng. José Teixeira Trigo

Further information

This year, the Secil Prize was given to Eng. José Teixeira Trigo for the structural design for the Atrium Saldanha Building.

Two editions of the Secil Civil Engineering Prize which distinguished large public works – the Macau-Taipa and the João Gomes Bridges – “…are followed by an award which rewards a completely different work, thus fulfilling an aim which has underpinned the creation of the prize from the very start: the promotion of creativity and boldness in designing viable solutions in whatever the area of implementation..”

In this work, most reinforced concrete structural members have no facing, the finishes being made up of the concrete itself. Nevertheless, as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Imosal said, “…the simple combination of facing concrete with stone and glass creates the beauty we can all admire and enjoy. The architectural concrete pillars, with their slender shape, play both a structural and a sculptural role. They are the mark of an architectural style.”

This edition also brought other significant innovations: the possibility of rewarding works abroad, the adjustment of the monetary value of the Prize and the first edition of the University Competition.

José d`Assunção Teixeira Trigo was born in 1937 in Pebane (Quelimane), Mozambique. He studied in Vila Nova de Famalicão and Porto. He completed his secondary education in Porto, then attended the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Porto, from where he graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1960, with a classification of 17/20. This classification earned him the Porto Industrial Association Prize awarded to the highest final grade on all courses of the Faculty of Engineering. During the course, he received the Teotónio Rodrigues and Bonfim Barreiros Awards, given to the students getting the highest marks in Resistance of Materials and Stability of Structures, and in Railways.

After more than three years of compulsory military service, almost all served in Angola, he embarked on a career in research at the National Laboratory for Civil Engineering. In 1968, he passed a public examination to be given the title of Structures Specialist, for which he defended a thesis on “Panel Structures under the Action of Horizontal Loads”. From 1983, after further public examinations, in which he defended the programme “Industrialisation of Building Construction. Contributions to a Policy of Quality”, he became Coordinating Investigator.

He was successively Unit Head and Head of the Buildings Department at LNEC, a position he held until 1990. Throughout his career at LNEC his work involved the observation of structures, heavy prefabrication, technologies of building construction and quality of construction. He coordinated activities under the LNEC Quality Label for Construction Developments.

He undertook important work in the Engineering education field, which he started in 1966 at the Instituto Superior Técnico. He lectured on the Civil Engineering Degree and the Master’s Degree in Construction at IST, and also on the Masters in Construction at FEUP. He taught on many postgraduate courses held at LNEC. He is currently a professor at the Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, where he is Director of the Civil Engineering Course and the Department of Engineering and Technology.

He has continued to collaborate with other universities, including participating in juries for Masters and Doctoral examinations and juries for the selection of lecturers and professors. His work in consulting and civil engineering design has been almost continuous, particularly in the area of building structures and foundations. Within this activity, the designs for the following works are worth highlighting:

  • Marinotel Hotel in Vilamoura
  • Chemical and Biological Technology Centre for Agriculture, in Oeiras, currently ITQB of Nova University;
  • Atrium Saldanha, Lisbon
  • Reconstruction of the Chiado Department Stores in Lisbon;
  • ISCTE II building for the ISCTE Business School in Lisbon, still under construction.

It is known that the work of the civil engineer in building design entails the creation of a structure to ensure the proper mechanical behaviour of the building conceived by the architect, as well as contributing to the definition of the constructive solutions to be adopted for the whole work. Some of his collaborations justify reference being made to the prizes awarded to certain works:

  • Block 8A in the Rosa Neighbourhood, by the Municipal Housing Company (EPUL) in Restelo – with the architects Nuno Teotónio Pereira, João Paciência and Pedro Botelho.
  • Valmor and Municipal Architecture Prize 1987 – Honourable Mention;
  • Terraced houses in the Rosa Neighbourhood, EPUL, Restelo – with the architects Pedro Botelho and Nuno Teotónio Pereira.
  • Valmor and Municipal Architecture Prize, 1989;
  • Laveiras Housing Project – Caxias, with the architects Nuno Teotónio Pereira and Pedro Botelho. INH Award, 1987/90;
  • Alto da Loba Housing Project in Paço d`Arcos, with the architects Nuno Teotónio Pereira and Pedro Botelho. INH Award, Honourable Mention -1989/92;
  • Residential building in Pego Longo, with the architect Bartolomeu da Costa Cabral, INH Award 1989/93.
  • INDEG/ISCTE building, with the architect Raúl Hestnes Ferreira. Valmor and Municipal Architecture Prize 1993 – Honourable Mention;
  • The old “Café Lisboa” building, with the architects Pedro Botelho, Nuno Teotónio Pereira and Mário Costa e Crespo. Eugénio dos Santos Municipal Architecture/Urban Rehabilitation Prize in 1995.

He is the author of hundreds of scientific and technical publications and a full member of the Academy of Engineering.

The Atrium Saldanha Building is in Praça Duque de Saldanha, at the confluence of two of Lisbon’s main arteries, Av. da República and Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, and it takes up almost the whole of one block.

In the development of this project, the design team faced a number of challenges to do with the various objectives and constraints surrounding this building and that involved the need to:

  • Complete the excavation and build the basement levels very quickly, to meet the concerns associated with the durability of the previously made peripheral containment;
  • Ensure the great versatility of building usage, even before the occupant or occupants being defined;
  • Create an emblematic building in the city of Lisbon by taking advantage of the structural elements;
  • Provide a full height central atrium, given the great depth of the block;
  • Make a building with an economic, versatile structure, while still ensuring good behaviour to loads, in particular the vertical and seismic actions.

These challenges led the design team to choose:

  • To tackle the works and the structural design in two phases: in phase one, the construction of the slabs of the basements so the provisional bolting could be dismantled; in phase two, the construction above ground level;
  • To achieve a final construction without the use of expansion joints, occupying the whole available area, which had obvious advantages from the point of view of use of the building and its behaviour under seismic action, but had to cope with the stresses generated by concrete shrinkage and thermal variations;
  • To use architectural concrete in most of the structure, using the concrete for the final finishing;
  • To adopt a transition structure under the central atrium area to allow a different structural mesh between the basements and the upper floors.

The total area ofthe building is 66,000m2, spread over 18 storeys, of which 6 are underground.

The vertical elements are formed by pillars, arranged in an approximately orthogonal grid of 7.5m x 7.5m, and four access cores. The pillars with the largest area of influence on the lower floors are grouped in pairs and are 0.74m in diameter; above level 0 they are replaced by a single pillar of 0.80m diameter; on floor 6, the diameter is reduced to 0.65m.

The horizontal elements are made of waffle slabs: solid slabs 0.26m thick in the basements and voided slabs 0.325m thick on the upper floors. In these floors there are solid bands between the vertical elements. In the façades, there are edge beams.

Overall, the construction opted for a solution of shallow foundations, consisting of isolated shoes for the pillars and blocks for the reinforced concrete cores.

Location: Praça Duque de Saldanha, Lisbon

Date of Design: 1992

Date of construction: 1993

Design: Architect Ricardo Bofill

Team: Paulo M. Santos Freire, Pedro Machado Trigo, João Leite Garcia, Jorge Reduto da Costa

Client: IMOSAL – Imobiliária do Saldanha, SA

Structure: Gabinete Teixeira Trigo, Lda.

Area of building: 66.000 m2

Contractor: EDIFER,SA; Construções Pires Coelho & Fernandes,SA

The clear and orderly manner in which the building’s structural elements are distributed and interconnected, despite the constraints which were initially placed on harmonising the structure of the basements with the upper floors, the choice of a monolithic structure and the special attention paid to construction procedures to achieve a high quality of execution and good performance in service, make this project a perfect example of the art of organising materials, that is the essence of structural engineering.

José Luís Câncio Martins, Engineer,

Chairman of the Jury, in the 1999 Secil Civil Engineering Prize, Secil edition

With the Atrium Saldanha building in Praça Duque de Saldanha, we sought to revolutionise real estate development and leave a mark on the city, launching the fight for quality (…) Secil itself, amongst many others, contributed to its execution, having technically developed this type of concrete, creating many real-size samples, a work without which the dignity of the Atrium Saldanha building would not have been achieved.

Amando G. Martins

Chair of the Board of Directors of Imosal, in the Secil 1999 Civil Engineering Prize, Secil edition

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