Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media

Old beer factory to become creative hub in Faro

Faro Council is planning to turn the town’s old beer factory (Fábrica da Cerveja) – one of the most iconic buildings in its historic centre – into a “creative hub” in 10 years.

Around €13 million will be invested in the four-phase project as part of Faro’s bid to be named a European Capital of Culture in 2027.

“The factory wants to establish itself as a centre for art and creativity, open to the public and serving as a meeting point for cultural agents, with multifunctional spaces which will provide improved dynamics to what already exists here today,” said Faro deputy mayor Paulo Santos.

He revealed that the goal is for the management of the new cultural hub to be shared by the local “cultural fabric”, associations and the University of the Algarve.

“It will be a comprehensive space, where people will be able to produce, give to the community, but also receive,” said the deputy mayor, adding that it will help Faro reach a “new level” in culture never before possible.

The strategic programme for the beer factory (Programa Estratégico e Funcional para a Fábrica da Cerveja) was unveiled on Friday. It was created with the input of locals as well as architecture firm Gonçalo Louro & Cláudia Santos Arquitectos, Lda; Opium Lda, a company owned by Carlos Martins, the former manager of the Guimarães European Capital of Culture project in 2012; and Pablo Berástegui, a cultural producer who has worked on several large-scale projects, such as San Sebastian’s bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2016.

The cultural hub will be the “main epicentre” of the town’s bid for European Capital of Culture 2027, along with another project which is entitled ‘Quilómetro Cultural’ (Cultural Kilometre).

The plan is to renovate the cargo deck of the train station – whose management was transferred to the local council on January 2 – create spaces for artist residences on Culatra and Farol islands and acquire the Alfândega (customs) building which will host an “ambitious gastrodiplomacy project”.

Santos guarantees that this is an “irreversible process” as these projects will move forward even if Faro is not named a European Capital of Culture finalist.

The beer factory project had been completed last June, but the council says it delayed its announcement so that the project would not be viewed as a “trick up its sleeve” before last September’s local elections.

“Now, during this mandate, we will develop (the project) as much as we can,” the deputy mayor said, adding that the project will be so far along by the time the next local elections take place that “no one will have the courage to not complete the third and fourth phases”.

“We were careful to consult several entities to make sure all legal and technical issues were covered, even the smallest details. Of course, there are still aspects that need finetuning,” Santos said.

Work to the existing building will ensure its original traits are maintained. The project also foresees the construction of a new building behind the factory with support rooms for music production (which can be used for other purposes if needed).

Another building is also due to be built at Largo Dom Afonso III and serve as a bridge between the municipal museum and the cultural hub. Says the council, it will completely revamp the surrounding area and provide new exhibition spaces.

The project is being carried out in four phases. The first two are expected to be completed in 2026 or 2027. If Faro is named European Capital of Culture 2027, the third phase will be pushed forward to 2027. The fourth phase is “dependant” on how the first three go, the council says.

Paulo Santos said the local authority will move forward with the architecture project in the first phase, this year. This should go smoothly, he said, as the works are all on municipal-owned lands. The second phase, however, will require the purchase of private land.

The project also includes the construction of a restaurant on the terrace of the factory, as Faro heads the European Creative Rooftop Network.

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Paulo Santos, deputy mayor
Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media
Faro Mayor Rogério Bacalhau
Photo: Bruno Filipe Pires/Open Media
Artist’s impression of the Fábrica da Cerveja project