Skip to content



Bak Gordon Arquitectos

Lisbon, Portugal


Bak Gordon Architects is an architectural office based in Lisbon, Portugal founded by architect Ricardo Bak Gordon in 2002. The studio has developed projects of different scales, programs, and typologies in Portugal and abroad. In all designs, it explores—with rigor and precision—a vision that is simultaneously poetic and technical, as well as carefully related to site and public space. Currently, the studio has a team of ten architects. Their main work themes are housing and urban planning as well as cultural, industrial, educational, and sporting facilities. The studio participates in national and international competitions. Their work has been shown in exhibitions in Portugal, Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America. They have been published in prestigious editions of the specialty worldwide. Ricardo Bak Gordon is a lecturer and visiting professor at several international universities and institutions.

CAB 2 Contribution

Project Overview

Desenhos de Trabalho (Working Drawing)

Portuguese architect Ricardo Bak Gordon is best known for producing buildings that are sensitive to the local context and culture with attention given to the small, everyday uses of his clients. In the context of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, he represents his practice through a collection of study drawings from diverse projects. These table-sized drawings on sheer vellum paper are not drawn in the expected shades of graphite or black ink, perhaps more traditional of the architectural sketch, but bright colored crayon. The lines, that are worked over and over again and are abstract in form. The colors suggest materials, finishes, and qualities of light, and appear to seek and test the proportional relationships of spaces and defining perimeters. The semi-transparency of the paper they’re drawn on suggests that they are often used in layers over other drawings, making them an intermediate drawing form: not quite a sketch and not yet a construction document.

Working Drawings presents us with a compelling shift; architectural working drawings most usually follow the looseness of the sketch. They are the pragmatic devices used to communicate construction information, often through coded languages to multiple audiences, of the building site. Here, Bak Gordon suggests that we might reconsider the frenetic creative act as the truer labor of the architect. Bak Gordon’s work calls upon the history of architectural representation and the ways that drawings are catagorized to take the building from idea to development. He reminds us that architects use drawings not only to convey ideas to outside audiences or to construction teams in the building process—but also as a private activity and a way of thinking.

The City is the Site