Architects: VA Studio
Location: Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Engineering: Uniplan, Lda and J. Granjo, Lda
Construction company: SANJOSE, s.a.
Project team: VA Studio
Project area: 6,000 sqm
Project year: 2008 – 2010
Photographs: Alberto Plácido
A controversial process, as usual when involves public institutions, mixed with a lot of politics to help, but despite everything, it was taken to a successful conclusion and it is always rewarding to know that architecture is also an active social instrument. Located in the historic center, it has a privileged perspective on the Douro River, the caves and the port. Sits on an extreme pitched lot, part of a very irregular urban framework, typical to the site. Regarding these aspects, along with sun exposure, the functional program density and the inherent low cost, this whole thing has resulted in the concentration of all housing typologies , “sliced” by the distinct character of the volume to the west, set for low-cost housing for sale, and the east volume to the PER housing.
The primary intention of reducing the impact of the volume height was demonstrated by the maintenance of the existing slopes and retaining walls, which are incorporated in the design to relate the number of floors of each body with the height of the existing roads to provide the rear communication among themselves through outdoor galleries.
This entire polygon undergoes a twist, and is based on a leveled public platform that will establish a variety of relationships with the surrounding public space, so it becomes embedded in the urban framework. This platform appears as a groundwork, composed of semi-underground garages, which defines the block and supports this contemporary element in the surrounding historical context.