Architectural Routes ’14

A multipurpose pavilion in Viana do Castelo, a rowing centre in Pocinho, a cultural centre in Castelo Branco and a retirement complex in Alcabideche. These are part of the architectural route I took through Portugal in 2014.

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Eduardo Souto de Moura is the architect of Viana do Castelo’s multipurpose pavilion.

What may appear to be a fusion between a sober Miesian architecture and the chaotic radicalism of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’ Centre Pompidou is far more than a combination of older styles. This pavilion is a fine example of a modern Portuguese architecture that shows Souto de Moura’s unique ability to apply superb aesthetic solutions to functional problems of every scale and complexity.

Read the full article here.

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Barcelona-based architect Josep Lluís Mateo, of Mateo Arquitectura, designed and realized – in collaboration with Portuguese colleague Carlos Reis Figueiredo – a 4300-m2 building whose singular shape is wrapped in a timber and zinc façade. Their spectacular complex was the final phase of a larger urban-renewal project for a neglected city square: Largo da Devesa. Castelo Branco’s Centre of Contemporary Culture (CCCB) occupies the east corner of the square. Its modern design and quirky façade work to integrate it into – rather than to clash with – the surrounding cityscape of old and contemporary buildings.

Read the full article here.

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Photo by João Morgado.

Sudden inspiration, architectural instinct and a bit of serendipity were the ingredients that went into the final design of the new Centre for High Performance Rowing in Pocinho. Álvaro Andrade, the Porto-based architect, grins: ‘At 2 a.m. on the night before a meeting – that’s when we like to say Pocinho crooked.’ The building does resemble a crooked reptile as it partly blends with the landscape like a chameleon and its more substantial elements wriggle down the valley like a snake, but biology wasn’t the architect’s muse, nor was Rem Koolhaas’s Casa da Música in Porto, as many seem to think. In fact, Andrade drew inspiration from the modulation and repetition of a rather simpler 1990s project by Porto’s own José Gigante and João Álvaro Rocha: the National Laboratory of Veterinary Investigation in Vairão, Vila do Conde.

Read the full article here.

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Photo by Ricardo Oliveira Alves.

The key feature of the retirement complex by Guedes Cruz Architects has to be the conspicuous white boxes that sit atop the residential units. Their different heights lend vitality and flow to the project, but these pristine volumes aren’t merely an aesthetic complement to the design. They function as streetlamps and emergency alarms, while boosting the project’s level of sustainability. At night they light up in programmed groups of ten to illuminate outdoor areas, and when someone presses an alarm button inside a house, LED lights turn that unit’s white box into a bright red emergency signal. Finally, each box is a cushion that helps regulate indoor temperature, holding warm air rising from heated floors during the colder months and reflecting sunlight away from the surface during summer, when it also aids ventilation. ‘This was a natural, evolutive process,’ the architects explain. ‘We had an initial idea, came across the material, studied its potential, and from there things began to happen.’

Read the full article here.

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