So, what is it and what is Hub Criativo do Beato becoming? How do you get from an army factory to an innovation hub? Why is Lisbon City Council investing in this project and how is Startup Lisboa designing the space and preserving its memory?
The Future is here
Hub Criativo do Beato has one past and many futures. Memories are preserved. Future is shaped. The present is the only possible future, for it is the only one we can shape. The Future is here, every day.
We are building a space for open innovation, in the heart of the Beato neighbourhood, where work, leisure and cultural areas intertwine to unveil new urban dynamics, a daily living space shared by the Hub residents - entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, scaleups and large companies - and the entire surrounding community.
Mission and Vision
Strategically located between the city historical centre and the modern area of Parque das Nações, on the riverside, the Lisbon City Council envisioned the 3 hectares of the former Manutenção Militar factories in the Beato neighbourhood as a unique opportunity to accelerate development and enhance urban, economic and cultural regeneration in this part of the city, which during the 20th century hosted significant industrial activity which over the last decades has left the city, leaving behind a socially and economically disadvantaged area.
In 2016, the local authority put forward a proposal to the Government, which aimed to transfer of the right of use of the southern wing of that Portuguese Army industrial complex - which had reached its climax during the Colonial War and which had been deactivated for more than a decade - to fit it into its city economy and innovation strategy and transform it into a focal point for the promotion of entrepreneurship and creativity, deeply intertwined with local dynamics, and that would add the best practices in terms of digital, technological and creative industries in Portugal and worldwide.
Following the signing of the Notice of Assignment of Use and Acceptance of the Building between the Municipality of Lisbon and the Portuguese State, in June 2016, the City Council invited Startup Lisboa, a business incubator, to design the project concept and model and undertake its coordination.
And so was born the Hub Criativo do Beato project, the building of a new centrality in the city, a concept of hub to attract companies and people "who position Lisbon definitively as an open, entrepreneurial, innovative and creative city". (in Masterplan Public Presentation - See Official Documents for Consultation).
The concept defined by Startup Lisboa, which is knowledgeable and deeply rooted in the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, assumes a very concrete vision for the role of the HCB: to enhance the city as an international entrepreneurship hub without draining the existing dynamics, functioning as a pole to attract and retain new talent, new projects and new players, to add value to the community and the country.
The HCB is being built in such a way as to provide working areas in harmony with leisure areas, differentiated services and ongoing cultural programming. Aligned with the best environmental sustainability practices and preservation of its industrial heritage, and inserted in the urban network and the community, its ultimate goal is to instil interaction between different types of people and industries, thus creating a dynamic, innovative and creative community.
When the requalification is completed, the HCB will be one of the largest entrepreneurship hubs in Europe, with about 50 thousand square meters distributed over 18 buildings, estimated to create 3 thousand new jobs among the companies that will occupy the space, along with the jobs created with the commercial dynamics that will respond to the needs of the new structure.
The project has already captured some global companies such as Factory, one of the largest European incubators (with Berlin origins); Daimler Benz, which will install its technological hub there - Mercedes Benz.io; the Super Bock Group, with a space to promote the creative industries and a craft brewery - Browers Beato; Delta Cafés; and Startup Lisboa itself. These entities’ projects come to consolidate the four axes envisioned for the HCB: entrepreneurship, Creative Industries, Innovation and knowledge, startups, Scale ups and Global Companies.
The HCB development and economic sustainability model, designed by Startup Lisboa, assumes that the renovation of the buildings is the responsibility of the selected developers, with the objectives of reducing the need for public investment, speeding up the development of the project, and better adapting the spaces to the needs of its future users.
In the adopted model, the promoters, referred to as partners and chosen in accordance with the curatorship of the concept and the respective lines of action - Entrepreneurship, Creative Industries, Innovation and Knowledge, Startups, Scale ups and Global Companies - are responsible for fully supporting the financial burden of the rehabilitation and adaptation of the respective buildings, with the municipality ensuring the provision of infrastructure (water and sewage network, electricity, communications, etc.), and the rehabilitation of outdoor spaces.
As the ownership of the entire HCB space remains in the public sphere, the buildings are made available to the selected partners, through the signing of long-term use transfer contracts. To make this attractive for developers, the adopted strategy foresees that developers only start paying for the use of space only when they have fully recovered the eligible investment made. This is accomplished by granting of a period of exemption from payment.
Startup Lisboa, as the managing entity, is responsible for curating and programming, as well as for all the activities pertaining space management.
Moving forward, expenditure on programming, promoting, managing and maintaining the hub will be shared between the partners on the basis of a cost per square metre (condominium).
The HCB is located in the former Manutenção Militar facilities - South Wing in Beato, between Infante D. Henrique Av. (East) And Rua do Grilo (West), on the eastern riverside front. At a prime location, it is a 10-minute drive away from Lisbon Airport, the centre and Parque das Nações
- Lisbon Airport- Centre of Lisbon- Parque das Nações
Work is in progress to completely refurbish the urban infrastructure serving the existing buildings and to upgrade the outdoor areas. The 18 buildings will be renovated, adapted for new uses and in some cases expanded or replaced by new ones.
Classified HeritageThere are three properties with individual historical value regardless of the set where they are included:
Grilas Convent/Clock Building (17th and 18th centuries; Inscribed in the Municipal Heritage Charter)Grilas Warehouses (17th And 18th Century)Power Plant (early 20th century - 1921 ; inscribed in the Municipal Heritage Charter)
All the other buildings are relevant because of the military industrial complex in which they are inserted and in the light of the concept of "industrial legacy", understood as "technical-industrial remains, technical equipment, buildings, products, archive documents and the industrial organisation itself. (In Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage)
From its agricultural, religious and military past, passing through the progressive transformation into an industrial periphery from the end of the 18th century, to the deindustrialization and demographic and economic decline from the 70s of the 20th century, the history of the industrial complex and the territory where the HCB is now born makes it possible to identify the political, social and economic evolution of the city and the country.
In the past, the Beato, Marvila and Madredeus neighbourhoods were part of a rural area scattered by convents and manor houses facing the Tagus River. The industrial revolution has replaced this silent landscape with factories with restless machines running permanently, thus transforming the neighbourhoods’ lives. Manutenção Militar, which came to occupy the Grilas Convent, is a paradigmatic case of this profound change, and having fulfilled its mission, is now getting ready to meet the new and great changes of the 21st century, as Hub Criativo do Beato.
1663 / 1665 The Origin of Grilas Convent
In the former Quinta do Grilo, Queen Luisa de Gusmão fulfils her desire to found two convents of the Order of St. Augustine, commonly known as Convento dos Grilos (Grilos Convent) and Convento dos Grilos (Grilas Convent). In 1663, the Queen leaves the court and settles in Xabregas, from where she “observes” the construction of the convents. Unfortunately, she passed away in 1666, and didn’t get to see the finished work. Her desire to be buried in the church of “our” convent of the Discalced Carmelites (Grilas) was fulfilled in 1713.
Queen Luísa de Gusmão, portrait of José de Avelar Rebelo (Lisbon, c. 1600 – 1657) In Wikipedia
1734 – 1856 Grilas warehouse
The Grilas nuns take out a loan of 3,000 cruzados, for works on the convent and building a modern Warehouse by the river with loading docks. However, in 1856 they had to sell it to pay off the debts and interest on the loan. This warehouse is one of HCB’s most charismatic buildings with its stone arches.
Inauguration of the first railway line in Portugal that connected Lisbon to Carregado. This line cut the convent fence of the Grilas Convent and was later used for a MM private railway line and station. We still pass there by train when travelling between the Santa Apolonia station and the Oriente station, who knows if it will get back the dynamics of an actual stop?
With the extinction of religious orders in 1834, it was defined that the convent would be extinct after the death of the last nun who professed there. On 22 March 1885 the last Discalced Carmelite nun of the Convent of Grilas passed away and the state began its occupation.
1886 The perfect location for the industrial complex
The Minister of War, viscount of S. Januario, chooses this space to implement the Portuguese army manufacturing project. The large building and the area that made up the old fence, the proximity to the river and the train line, make this place perfect to deploy the Manutenção Militar, to be designed by military engineer Captain Joaquim Renato Batista.
Topographic Charter Filipe Folque, 1856-58 in the Archive of CML
1897 Foundation of Manutenção Militar
On June 11, 1897 the Manutenção Militar was founded by decree of King D. Carlos with the aim of producing and feeding the troops. This new food industry was under the Ministry of War and subordinated to the Military Administration. By this time, the machines of the milling factory were already working, in an experimental phase, and had been producing flour for the bread, since August of the previous year.
1911 – 1920 The growth of the MM
Person of great prominence in the development of the MM, Colonel Luis Antonio Vasconcelos Dias puts brings the project and the great industrialization of the space into life: in addition to the milling, bread, dough and biscuit factories, he develops the canning industry, sugar refinery, slaughterhouse and sausage making factory, coffee milling, wine treatment and tablets factory (compression of sugar, coffee, salt and chocolate to be transported in the military campaign).
In 1912 MM hires women for the first time to work in factories and workshops, but quickly their skills allow them to rise to administrative positions in the Secretariat, Treasury and Accounting. With black dress and white breasted apron uniforms, they have the category of amanuense (administrative clerk). Two years later, married female employees earn the right to days of maternity leave with no reduction in income. In 1924, a nursery school is opened in the MM for their children.
During the First World War, British allies supplied meat, sweets and other rations. The MM sent 123 000 kg of coffee and 1 600 000 litres of wine to the Portuguese Expeditionary Body in the War front.
1921 Power plant
The end of the steam era as the driving force of the complex is marked by the construction of a two-group diesel power plant, composed of two 1000 HP and 500 HP engines, to power all MM factories autonomously. This industrial architecture building will be a guaranteed public and leisure space.
Placing the electric clock in the main building. An important event that helps mark time and working hours in the factory. It was a convent, it was residential for Army officers, and in the future it will have a movement of coliving digital nomads. Today, it’s the main façade of the HCB at Rua do Grilo (Grilo Street), and its watch will continue to mark the time and advancement of innovation and technology.
Manutenção Militar supported the battalions sent to the islands and colonies in Africa and Timor, as well as the 1943 Maneuvers, which concentrated about 60,000 men in the central part of the country, prepared for the land invasion that was imminent.
Ilustração Portugueza, nº 982, 6 March 1942
1945 First Primary School
Opening of the first Primary School for employees’ children, in the tower of the workshop building, next to the entrance gate of Travessa do Grilo (Grilo Alley), very easy to identify.
The 1950s – Technological, Logistics and SocialRenovation
Pasta, Milling, Bread and Cookie factories are equipped with modern machines for large production. Increase in social support to workers with the renewed Health Service (general medical aid, specialty and nursing aid). Inauguration of the Social Block in 1959, with the Kitchen and Cafeteria of the Civil Personnel for 550 people, Kindergarten and Primary School and a Cinema Theatre with approx. 800 seats.
The great increase of men in campaign and theatre of war forces MM to work 24 hours a day to meet the needs. During this period, about 9 million Combat Rations were produced, distributed in war effort. Opening of MM branches in the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Guinea, Mozambique and Timor.
Development of the MM supermarket chain and mini-markets throughout the country, where the products produced in the headquarters’ factories are sold to the military and their families. The Beato supermarket was the second to open and the last to close in 1993.
The 25th of April and the end of the Colonial War, in addition to the process of extinction of the Mandatory Military Service (initiated in 1993), significantly reduced the military personnel. Thus, the large production capacity, the tons of products that left the factories evert day no longer have any outlet and consumers. This situation results in the over-dimension of Manutenção Militar, both in terms of equipment and personnel.
1993 – 2002 New Objectives
It was necessary to create new objectives for this undertaking and the process of organic and functional restructuring takes advantage of its storage and distribution capacity to support the National Forces deployed in International Peace Keeping Missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and others, as well as the Red Cross humanitarian support campaigns and Community Food Aid Programmes for the Poor.
2002 – 2011 Closure of the Factories
The enormous production capacity of all the factories, the cost of maintaining all their equipment and issues related to economic management of the military administration, led to the progressive closure of the factories. Last plant to close: the Bread Factory.
Decision to close the Manutenção Militar. The creation of the new entity MM, Gestão Partilhada – E.P.E., which undertook the role of replenishing products and supplying food made to the military units of the Lisbon region, was the last attempt of reviving the Manutenção Militar, unsuccessfully. It was extinct in 2016.
2016 Hub Criativo do Beato
Assignment agreement between the Portuguese State and the Lisbon City Council of the south zone of MM (factory area) to recover and rehabilitate the space with new experiences and a future driving force. Creation of the Hub Criativo do Beato.
From the historical, urban and architectural point of view, the industrial complex where we are building the HCB is above all a remarkable testimony to the collective memory and the experiences of the people who have worked and lived here.
Along with the change regarding the use to be made of the building, the works will always take into account the original features of the buildings and the historical, architectural and industrial heritage they entail. All the heritage has been identified, inventoried and will be preserved. A museum centre is being developed under the management of EGEAC, the municipal culture company that coordinates the municipal network of museums, which we intend to be the meeting point between the past and the future.
In assessing and establishing the criteria to adapt spaces to new uses, ensuring the heritage preservation and harmonious coexistence between the new functions and the memory of the space, we consider, in addition to the national and municipal legislation on safeguarding the cultural heritage, the following international reference documents:
Nizhny Tagil Charter for industrial heritage;
Dublin Principles - ICOMOS-TICCIH joint principles for the conservation of industrial heritage sites, buildings, areas and landscapes;
2013 Burra Charter;
La Valletta Principles of 2011 (EI CIVVIH-ICOMOS) which include definitions and methodologies in terms of safeguarding and management that aim to guide the safeguarding and management of historic towns and urban areas;
Krakow Charter for the protection of cultural heritage.
Would you like to help us preserve and share the memory of Manutenção Militar?
Do you have photographs, newspaper clippings, books, uniforms or other historical elements from the Manutenção Militar time?
If you have any data or material that depicts the history of the space where we are building the HCB today and would like to contribute to honor the memory of all the people who worked here and gave life to one of the most important industries in the city, contact us