Lx Factory: Lisbon’s “creative island”

What was once a grand manufacturing complex in Alcântara, is now a creative and dynamic space for everything from art, fashion and fine arts to architecture, music and food.

Culture — 17 April 2013 by Marina Watson Peláez
Lx Factory: Lisbon’s “creative island”

inside the Ler Devagar bookshop in Lx Factory (Photograph: Marina Watson Peláez/PDV)

Some people skim books that rise up impossibly high staircases, while others drink coffee and listen to music. On the top floor, resident Italian artist Pietro Proserpio is showing visitors his creative installations made of recyclable materials. This is the Lx Factory‘s Ler Devagar bookshop, a large warehouse where not so long ago a printing workshop was operating, and in which architects figured a way to gain space around a large, rotary printer. Exhibitions, theatre shows, poetry and concerts are also held here.

Across the road, other visitors are caught red-handed trying homemade chocolate cake at Sofia Landeau’s (voted by Time Out magazine “the best chocolate cake in Lisbon”), buying organic skin products at Organii, browsing art at the Studioteambox Gallery, trying clothes on at India That Wears You (see pic below) or satisfying their appetites at Cantina - which has fed generations of local workers since 1846 and is now an unpretentious restaurant with antique furniture and a log-fired oven. They make their bread here and you can choose from both international and traditional Portuguese dishes.

There are also several design stores like DOI (Design, Object, Interior), Kraxas  or KARE – if you are thinking of buying a new piece of furniture or redecorating your home.

All these businesses go along a traffic-less street where in the 19th century the Lisbon textile and weaving mill was running in the district of Alcântara – one of the first places in Portugal to adopt the typical cast-iron architecture construction model.

Lx Factory, which is managed by Mainside, a real estate investment firm, gave life to a once-abandoned space in 2008 which is now known as the city’s “creative island” with over 150 companies and commercial businesses. It is a shining example of how abandoned and  neglected spaces can be reused and capitalised by the emerging creative industries sector in Portugal – one of the city’s central economic sectors combining different economic, sociocultural and technological realities which have attracted here, amongst others, marketing and advertising agencies, architectural practices and photography studios.

The site, which is seated on 23,000 sq metres of land and has a parking lot inside the  complex, is situated outside the centre of Lisbon in Alcântara – a riverside district, where boats and cargo arrive every day.

The atmosphere in this village-like complex is even more vibrant on Sundays, when stools line the streets with trendy, second-hand items, clothing, shoes and also hand-made products and food. And during the night, Lx Factory turns into a musical scenario, with several venues staging live concerts and raves, hosting internationally recognised artists. Last November, Espaço Brasil was inaugurated to serve as a centre of contemporary Brazilian culture, hosting concerts (it has welcomed pianist João Donato) and also exhibitions, workshops, gastronomy and other activities during the day, until 10 June this year.

There are also yoga and dance classes and sewing workshops and Lx Factory runs an open day once a year holding exhibitions, tasting sessions, concerts and catwalk shows.

Rua Rodrigues de Faria 103, 1300 Lisboa, Portugal

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Marina Watson Peláez

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