The grounds of an old cork factory in the heart of a town to the south of Portugal are being transformed into a multi-purpose area dedicated to arts, education and local facilities. Located in Portalegre, a small town in a natural environment, the general rehabilitation plan for the 60,000 sq meters has been designed by portuguese architects Correia/Ragazzi in collaboration with the team in the office of Souto de Moura.
Among the installations built so far stands a new car-park, situated in a former industrial building from the cork factory, serving local necessities as well as the necessary parking space for the also new School of Tourism and Hotel Management located nearby.
Within the definitions of the General Plan, the location of the parking was essential. It is directly connected to the street and to the surrounding buildings and equipment, so it was not necessary to build a costly new structure, given the advantages of this large and airy building, with good light and naturally ventilated.
Also, the fact that that the building is located in the proximity of the Tourism and Hotel School as well as other teaching units as the Music Conservatory and Culture Associations, comprised mainly by young people, allows for the structure to hold all sorts of musical events, concerts and happenings.
The car-park has two clearly defined openings in the facade which will be used for the entry and exit of vehicles, in accordance with the circulations defined in the General Plan.
The side open to the space between the Auditorium and this building will be terminated with a steel mesh of approximately 2.50 m height.
In this steel mesh, as well as in the existing metal structure that is to be kept, a vine type vegetation will be placed, such as wisteria or a Kiwi. This sort of plantation will provide the necessary freshness to this space, a climatic solution traditionally used in this region.
About the restoration of the Robinson Cork Factory
The Portuguese town of Portalegre is situated at the edge of the Parque Natural da Serra de São Mamede, a few kilometers from the border with Extremadura, Spain. Traditionally linked to the textile industry since the seventeenth century, the creation of the Robinson cork factory in the nineteenth century has been an important economic catalyst for the city.
The subsequent transfer of the factory to a new industrial area on the outskirts freed a 60,000 square meter lot in a central area of Portalegre, comprising an important industrial heritage of hangars, warehouses and offices. Inspired by examples of recovery in industrial memory as the Pompeia factory in Sao Paulo by Lina Bo Bardi, the enclosure management plan by Souto de Moura and Graça Correia proposes the creation of a ‘city tour’ formed by the combination of new and old buildings.
Among the new buildings -many of which are still in construction process- the building of the Hostel Management and Tourism School is essential for the spatial definition of the main road that runs through the former grounds of the factory. Heading south, the structure ‘hangs’ over the landscape thanks to the rugged topography. It is a prism supported by the existing embankment, defined by a large central gallery to which all major areas of the school are connected: classrooms, library, meeting room, restaurant and bar.
To the north, the building is divided into two closed volumes, one longitudinal ocher, where the offices and ancillary spaces open to small courtyards; and a square one, advancing towards the main street, containing all kitchens and infrastructure support to the restaurant, self-service kitchen and learning. The volume has been painted blue dominant in bakeries and in all places where there are special hygiene conditions. The two areas in the building are connected by access points, transparencies and crossed views.
In addition to the school, other actions of the management plan have also been completed, such as the parking spaces, located in a renovated structure with concrete vaults and ceramic lattice facade, and two different auditoriums.
The first auditorium is located in a free, elevated, steel body with visible technical installations, according to the usual pattern in industrial architecture; the second auditorium, built in one of the rooms of the old factory, is linked to a new Virtual Reality Center dedicated to making animations in 2D and 3D for international companies.
Head Designers Eduardo Souto De Moura, Graça Correia
Photography Luis Ferreira Alves
Collaborators Ana Neto Vieira, Nuno Miguel Ferreira, Telmo Gervásio Gomes, Ricardo Cardoso, Pedro Gama, Hugo Natário, Inês Ruas, Rita Breda, Luís Diniz, Nuno Vasconcelos, Ana P. Carvalho, Ana L. Monteiro, João Marques, Maurícia Bento, Elisama Reis
Client Fundação Robinson
Surface Area 60500 mq
Information and images courtesy of Correia/Ragazzi architects.
Photography by Luis Ferreira Alves