LocationVila do Conde, Portugal
ArchitectsManuel Maia Gomes
Project TeamCarla Cruz, Rui Araújo, Artur Alves, Alda Silva, Luisa Lopes, Catarina Magalhães
EngineeringAntónio Costa, Eça Guimarães, Madalena Camões, Márcia Campos
From the architect. The project concerns the construction of a passage through two buildings leading to a square which lies eight meter below, leveled by one elevator, inside the staircase.
The passage works like an exhibition space, for paintings, sculptures and video arts. Conducts directly to the “Galleria Solar”, gallery which is specialized in cinematic art video and shortcut films. There is also a city bookshop. The original building was constructed in the sixteenth century, being deeply transformed in the eighteenth century. The refurbishment is done after the building was totally ruined.
Being the passage a public space, which is opened from 8:00 am until 12:00pm, the art is protected by glass panels which are provided with natural heating and ventilation. In the middle of the passage, we left some remains, testimony of the sixteenth century original building: a stone portico and some steps characteristic of this period.
On the first floor and in the attic, the space is converted into one student residence with eighteen bedrooms, kitchens and living spaces. Here, the strategy of the project is different. While on the ground floor, all the stone remain nude, without plaster and the floors are made of stone or cement, in the student residence, the space has been treated in terms of comfort: the floor was paved with wood and the walls were plastered and painted.
The common areas of the residence communicate with the gallery through pre-existing windows that provide transparencies and interaction between the gallery, the artworks and the common areas of the residence. The building also communicates with the city through windows placed specifically to frame the special views of the monuments of the sixteenth century.
The presence of the colored glass helps to make the transition between the historic manor house built in stone and the staircase constructed in pigmented concrete. Both materials went through unfinished treatments, evidencing the imperfection of the mankind. The space with the color glass illuminates the passage which incorporates a space for art exhibitions, introducing a section of cinematic gallery inside.
By this way, people meet art when walking through the city public spaces, being directly confronted and surprised by the regular exhibitions of the gallery. It combines the old with the new design, taking the atmosphere and ambience of gothic vitrals into contemporary architecture. The way that the luminous color panel is seen at the entrance of the building, attracts people to come and see the bright colors: the light at the end of the tunnel.
The Gallery was designed taking into account the principles of reuse of construction materials. The granite, building material which predominates in the building complemented with pigmented concrete, used in the construction of stairs and lift box. This project exposed the enormous capacity for conversion of the granite material seen as natural and environmentally friendly. The huge thermal inertia of the granite associated with its high density, permits this material to be used as heat accumulator during the summer, releasing the energy accumulated during the winter months, thereby avoiding the use of forced air-conditioning spaces. Our little contribution to the desirable sustainability.