The design of the central building and main square of Obidos Technology Park, by the architect Jorge Mealha was appointed to the Mies van der Rohe Award 2015.
The project tries to build an answer to the question of how to define a central square without a city, without its user-friendly links, without an economic and urban fabric context.
If we focus only on the scenic dimension of a square looking for a striking design, we would be neglecting its true reason for being -its civic and urban meaning-, the aim to survive temporary uses and fashions. That is, a configuration that will be maintained over time.
One possible answer to the question may be based on the memory of territory, understanding it from a contemporary perspective, exaltating the reasons for using a few places of the area, looking for remnants of traditions or extinct spaces, building the links and connections to your design.
In this territory which is not urban, identity and memory marks are still present, in dialogue with the contemporary newly designed structures. In this region, notes of ancient forests still remain, punctuated by small clusters and dispersed construction, torn by transport routes. All this together draws a sense of identity for this territory.
This region, still predominantly green, is punctuated by structures built with considerable interest, particularly some monasteries and cloisters, churches, stately homes, some small core housing and agricultural structures, showing usually very clear design from the point of view of their geometry and how they merge with territory.
The project seeks to use this idea of large green space, sometimes dense forest, punctuated by very clear and simple pieces of architecture that survives over the time, as main leitmotiv and organizative law of the programme in the building.
In general terms, the creation of a central place is proposed, a yard that tries to strengthen the feeling of recovery of civil structures in the region and, at the same time, underlying the Technological Park project.
The design of the “yard” establishes a relationship with the façades of the buildings on the ground floor – partially buried – and it creates the northwest hill as a result of the movement of the excavated material. The “yard” is designed suggesting the process of natural soil erosion. Its definition is underlined by the facades of the two semi-buried bodies and a square suspended body. The delimitation of this place is emphasized by the 1st floor of the building, with a big area of the square cantilevering. This body seeks to evoke the clarity and simplicity of some existing buildings in the area, attached to the territory, suggesting another footprint left by the building on the landscape.
It also seeks to mitigate the program’s scale. The user-friendly and civic core of the Technology Park is built in a simple way through the delimitation of the paved area that is surrounded by green structure – bounded by the facades and walls – and the square that hovers over it.
This ring demands a reading from the exterior as simple as possible, almost like a long textured wall. This effect is achieved by juxtaposing over the walls and windows a thin shading membrane, materialized in a perforated and white painted metal sheet.
The entire program on first floor is attached to the outside of the ring. The inner side, on the contrary, is as open as possible and uses the rhythm of the geometry of the structure – a structural truss- which evokes the design of a cloister. By concentrating all floor circulations inside, filling only with large glazing areas the intervals between the structural elements, this sense of ambulatory is emphasized.
Trying to avoid a formal design, the Project suggests a dialog with the memory of this territory, recalling its green areas, the random presence of walls and small buildings within the landscape, the architecture of cloisters… The design of the Óbidos Technology Park finds its “raison d’être” in the perpetual memory of a landscape that continually evolves.