Sofia Aleixo

BArch MA(Heritage Conservation)


Since 1991 has been working as a liberal professional, in her Studio, together with Architect Victor Mestre. Sofia Aleixo is founder partner of Victor Mestre I Sofia Aleixo, architects ltd. Company, a partnership led by the Senior Partners Victor Mestre (1957) and Sofia Aleixo (1967). The office was established in 1991, in Lisbon. vmsa architects have designed a wide range of projects and has works in progress, in Portugal, in the Autonomous Regions of Madeira and Azores, in Nagoya (Japan), Remexio (East Timor), Milan (Italy), Angola, Goa (India) and São Tomé and Principe.

Invited to participate in multidisciplinary projects and providing conservation consultancy, the office research and architectural design has been published and shared in several conferences in Portugal and abroad (Spain, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, France, Slovenia, England, Morocco, India and USA).

The practice has been involved in both research and architectural design, in Europe, Africa, and Asia, from which conservation consultancy, cultural significance statements and a diversity of articles have been publish internationally.

An enduring research in the vernacular architecture, architectural heritage and cultural landscape topics, coupled with an attentive look on the expressions of universal culture, have strongly contributed to the practice’s identity. Founder partners have been investigating the Rehabilitation and Restoration of the Built Architectural Heritage and Vernacular Architecture field since 1982, in Portugal and around the world; and, since 2007, school architecture and the rehabilitation of historic school buildings.

In the research on vernacular architecture in Portugal, and countries of Portuguese cultural influence, the office has been focused on earth architecture and particularly in adobe. It is associated the typological inventory, ie, spatial-functional of the modules to the construction process, in order to propose appropriate model(s) to contemporary standards of comfort, combining tradition and innovation. Part of this innovation will be developed in the technological field with the incorporation of materials from recycling, such as cork, in the adobe bricks. The standardization of the adobe still has the particularity to integrate a constructive modular system.

Professional experience: Education

Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK 2012; 2014
Associate Lecturer, MA International Architectural Regeneration and Development
Responsibilities include:

  • Design studio teaching for 4th year MArchD and MA students. One-to-one tutorials to discuss design development, group critique sessions. Delivering lecture(s) for groups of up to 40 students on research methods
  • International field trip organization and supervision
  • Participation on crit panels

Evora University, Evora, Portugal 2002 – to date
Associate Lecturer MA (

IADE Institute of Art, Design and Enterprise (Creative University), Lisbon, Portugal 1996 - 2000
Associate Lecturer, MA Tutor in Design Course

Funding awards

PhD Doctoral scholarship, 2009-2013
4-year full time. Portuguese Government, Foundation for Science and Technology
(ref. SFRH/BD/60763/2009), sponsorship supported by POPH/FSE

Research interests

  • 20th century Architectural Heritage: building typologies and architectural conservation (values based approach)
  • The social role of the architect/ architecture
  • The values of architectural heritage/ architectural conservation
  • Cultural Heritage and Cultural Studies
  • Architecture and Education in the 21st century

Professional memberships

Member of the Portuguese Architectural Registration Board (OA): 1991 - to date
register no. 4598

Associate of the British Higher Education Academy: 2012 - to date
register no. 50318

Professional experience: Architectural practice

Founding Partner, Senior Partner, Architect 1997 – to date
Victor Mestre I Sofia Aleixo, Architects Ltd. Company
Lisbon, Portugal

Architect and Director of the Municipal urban planning unit 1999-2001
Gaviao, Portugal
Coordinator of a multidisciplinary team of 11 members from different areas of expertise, to produce the Local Action Plan and the Master Plan of Belver Historic Village; design of projects within the Social Service area (houses rehabilitation) and within the public spaces regeneration.

Architect 1991 - 1997
Design and building practice in partnership with Victor Mestre.
Lisbon, Portugal

Books: Aleixo, S.; Mestre, V.

(2014) Heritage Continuity: an ethical link. Victor Mestre | Sofia Aleixo arquitectos. Abrantes: Câmara Municipal de Abrantes, OA-SRS-Delegação de Abrantes.

(2013) Victor Mestre: "ao (per)correr (d)a vida|”| Unveiling life journeys. Almada, Casa da Cerca - Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Câmara Municipal de Almada.

(2012) Lar do Vale Formoso + Quarteirão histórico de Santa Cruz. Victor Mestre | Sofia Aleixo arquitectos. José Manuel das Neves (ed.), colecção 1+1, Lisboa, Uzina Books. ISBN: 978-989-8456-26-7. Lisboa: Uzina Books.

(2011) Heritage: Between Time and Movement: Liceu Passos Manuel. José Manuel das Neves (ed.), Lisboa, Uzina Books.

(2004) Victor Mestre | Sofia Aleixo: Reabilitação do Tempo | Restoration of Time. José Manuel das Neves (ed.), Lisboa, Caleidoscópio.

Papers: Aleixo, S.; Mestre, V. (selection)

(2015) ‘Consolidação Sociocultural e Regeneração Ambiental, Urbana e Rural’. In Livro de Atas do Seminário reVer 2015 - Contributos da arquitetura vernácula portuguesa para a sustentabilidade do ambiente construído,Mateus R., et al (Ed.), pp.73-78. Accessible at

(2014) “Mixed masonry in historic buildings: architecture and technology synthesis” in Lourenço, Paulo; Haseltine, Barry; Vasconcelos, Graça (eds.) 9th International Masonry Conference. Guimarães: Universidade do Minho. pp. 105-114.

(2011) ‘Escola Secundária Passos Manuel’. In: Designing for Education: 4th Compendium of Exemplary Educational Facilities 2011. Paris, OECD/CELE (ed.), pp. 210-211.

(2011) ‘Passos Manuel Secondary School’ In: Architecture Yearbook 14, Michel Toussaint (ed.), Lisboa, Caleidoscópio, pp. 134-153.

(2011) ‘Modernização do Liceu Passos Manuel’. In: RENOVAR: Escola Básica e Secundária de Passos Manuel, Teresa Heitor (coord.), Education Ministry | Parque Escolar, E.P.E., Lisboa, 2011, pp. 14-17.

(2011) (several references). In: Guia de Arquitectura Sul e Ilhas de Portugal, Nuno Campos, Patrícia Matos (eds.), Porto, Traço Alternativo.

(2008) ‘Turismo de Natureza no Forte de Tavira de S. João’. In: Anuário Arquitectura XI,José Manuel das Neves (dir.), Lisboa, Caleidoscópio, pp. 252-253.

(2007) ‘Forte São João da Barra y Rehabilitación del Camino de Ronda del Castillo de San Jorge en Lisboa’. In: REHABILITA 06/07, Roberto Rubiolo Pardo (ed.), Cáceres, Dirección de Arquitectura de la Agencia Extremeña de la Vivienda el Urbanismo y el Territorio, pp. 92-103.

(2007) ‘O Tempo no Estúdio Fotográfico de Carlos Relvas – Reabilitação e Restauro: Métodos de Projectos e de implementação em Obra’. In: Jornal Arquitectos, nº229, Lisboa, Ordem dos Arquitectos, pp. 22-27.

(2006) ‘Centro Interpretativo das Ruínas de Torre de Palma, Monforte’. In: Arquitectura Ibérica: Sustentabilidade | Sustentabilidad, nº15 (Jun.), Lisboa, Caleidoscópio, pp. 202-217.

(2005) (several references). In: Arquitectura em Lisboa e Sul de Portugal desde 1974, Carsten Land, Klaus Hucking, Luiz Trigueiros (eds.), Lisboa, Editorial Blau.

(2004) – “A Caixa de Luz de Carlos Relvas” com Sofia Aleixo e João Appleton. In: Património/Estudos nº 6, Lisboa, IPPAR – Instituto Português do Património Arquitectónico - Departamento de Estudos, pp. 140-149.

Conference presentations (selection)

(2015) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘Proyectar (con) la memoria: intervenciones en el patrimonio arquitectónico’, at the Proyectar la memoria IV: Seminario-Taller sobre Restauración del Patrimonio Histórico-Cultural Iberoamericano. Escuela de Patrimonio Histórico de Nájera, La Rioja, Espanha.

(2014) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘A lecture on vernacular architecture and the way it informs our practice’. Module ‘Vernacular Architecture, Sustainability and Development’. Oxford Brookes University, UK.

(2012) - Presenter ‘Urban design through a cultural perspective. Recent experiences in Portugal’, Module 'Place making and Urban Design Practice': University of Salford, School of the Built Environment, Design Directorate | MSc in Urban Design, Salford, UK

(2012) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘Intervenções na paisagem do Rio Tejo: do Tejo Internacional à foz’, IV Taller Internacional de Paisaje «Ciudad y puerto», Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Universidad de Málaga, Espanha

(2008) – Presenter ‘Intervenciones en edificios históricos: conventos y palacios; Experiências portuguesas at Laboratorio Internacional de Restauración Arquitectónica y Recuperación Urbana, at the Universidad Internacional de Andalucía, Baeza, Jaen, Spain.

(2006) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘Earth Construction in Portugal’. Conference: TerraBrasil 2006: I Seminar of Earth Architecture and Earth Construction in Brazil | IV Seminar of Earth Architecture in Portugal. Federal University of Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto, Brazil

(2005) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘Alamal Inn’, Seminar on Portuguese Contemporary Architecture, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios de Posgrado de la Facultad de Arquitectura de la UNAM – Ciudad de México, México.

(2003) - Presenter (with Victor Mestre) ‘Understanding Portuguese Popular Architecture | Recent projects by vmsa architects’. Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, Germany.

Architecture awards

Rehabilitation and extension of Liceu Passos Manuel, Lisbon, Portugal
(2013) Europa Nostra Award, Conservation category (ceremony in Athens, Greece)
(2011) Selected by OECD-CELE as an Exemplary Educational Facility
(2010) Mention of the Valmor Award - Municipality Architecture Prize of Lisbon

São Jorge Castle Museum in the ruins of the former Royal Palace of the Alcáçova, Lisbon, Portugal
(2011) Included in the Touristic/Visitor Information Award APOM

Mouraria Rehabilitation and extension of urban historic building, Lisbon, Portugal
(2008) Honourable Mention of the Valmor Award - Municipality Architecture Prize of Lisbon Municipality

Rehabilitation and extension of the Valeformoso Elderly Day Care Centre and Long-term Care Home, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal
(2010) Municipality Architecture Prize of Funchal

Rehabilitation and extension of Ramalha Manor House to receive a Nursery, Kindergarten and Social Work Facility, Almada, Portugal
(2010) Municipality Architecture Prize of Almada 2008 - 2010


The Alamal Inn work was chosen as the Portuguese candidature to the III Bienal Iberoamericana de Arquitectura e Ingeniería Civil [Chile, 2002]; and was also selected by Habitar 2000 | 2002, an itinerant collective exhibition; the rehabilitation and restoration work on the Carlos Relvas Photographic Studio was selected in Habitar 2003 | 2005M and this year Habitar 2012 | 2014 selected our intervention in the Capuchin Convent of Serra da Arrábida [an initiative of the Order of the Architects]. Other exhibitions of VMSA work have taken place by invitation of:

  • the Order of the Architects - Visible Project | Hidden Work, Lisbon (2004), 20 years of cultural heritage stewardship (2014), Viseu; Heritage Continuity: an ethical link, Abrantes (2013)
  • Municipalities - Victor Mestre: Unveiling life journeys, Almada (2013).

Sofia Aleixo

PhD Thesis title: Historic School buildings Conservation: impact of adaptation to new Education needs in the heritage value

Brookes offers you some of the best conditions to conduct architectural conservation research.