In words of Paulo David (Portuguese member of the panel of judges): “How can one re-inscribe the value of a factory and prolong its physical morphology? By finding a space between the new volumes to which character is given and a new design is defined for this place. By adjusting the scaling and gently touching the preexistence, and not surpassing its limits. By expressing the will to lay bare the weight of the volcanic materialization of this place, with new bodies built with apparent, smooth and dark concrete. By prolonging the mineral positioning and showing a differential tactile datum. By investing and allowing the materiality to respond in a contrary way to its exterior, smooth and docile, seeking to accommodate a program for the unpredictability of the arts. The BigMat International Architecture Award, through these three winning projects, shows by way of example the different fields of work of Portuguese architects with a persistent and rigorous posture of “building on the built-up”.
Project title. Arquipélago Contemporary Arts Centre
Location: Riveira grande, Azores, Portugal
Office: João Mendes Ribeiro Arquitecto Lda
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Authors: João Mendes Ribeiro, architect (Joao Mendes Ribeiro Arq), Cristina Guedes, architect (Menos é Mais), Francisco Vieira de Campos, architect (Menos é Mais)
Collaborators: Adalgisa Lopes, Jorge Teixeira Dias, Ines Mesquita, Filipe Catarino (Project Managers) Rita Martins, António Ferreira da Silva, Cláudia Santos, Joana Figueiredo, João Branco (JMR) Cristina Maximino, João Pontes, Luís Campos, Ana Leite Fernandes, Mariana Sendas, Pedro Costa, Inés Ferreira, João Fernandes, Diogo Laje, Óscar Ribas, Ricardo Cardoso (Estudio GOMA)
Type of work. Public
Photographs: José Campos
According to the panel of judges chairman, Jesús Aparicio, “[…] a contemporary arts centre located in the Azores. Here the panel was impressed with the sensitivity shown in the design, which combines restoration with new construction work, leading, respectively, to a dark construction and another clad in white.”
The Arquipélago – Contemporary Arts Centre seeks to unite the different scales and times of its parts. It is a transdisciplinary project whose mission is to disseminate, create and produce emerging culture: a space of exchange and interface for people, knowledge and events. The design of Arquipélago maintains the industrial character of the whole and highlights the dialogue between an existing building (former alcohol/tobacco factory) and the new construction (arts and culture center, storage facilities, multipurpose hall/performing arts, laboratories, artist studios). The Arquipélago project acquires its identity through the quiet variation between the preexisting buildings and the two new ones.
The containment strategy of the facilities’ implementation enhances the spatial efficiency and hierarchical functionality of the different areas of the existing factory complex. The new buildings absorb the required functionalities, with special conditions that are not compatible with the spatiality of the preexisting buildings.
The project does not exaggerate the differences between the old and the new buildings. On the contrary, it seeks to unite the different scales and times of its parts throughout a pictorial manipulation of the form and materiality of the buildings – the existing constructions are marked by the volcanic stone masonry and the new buildings are characterized by an abstract form, without reference or allusion to any language, built in concrete with local basalt inert material continuously working with the variation of surfaces, textures and roughness, complementing the mass of the buildings with the emptiness of the patios.
The design is committed to the quality of what exists, showing the typological variations – new buildings are placed next to the existing ones in a serene manner – underlining the architectonical memory of a given period and the new addition, without damaging or subverting the spatial and constructive structures of the whole. Context and contiguity contribute to the autonomy of the object.
The new program reinvents the existing building, making it a meaningful space in a peripheral region in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It also adds meaning to the social and cultural context where it is built. A new public space is materialized in a central square/patio where art feels comfortable and blurs the frontiers between private and public spheres, leisure and work, art and life.