Architects: RCJV – Ricardo Carvalho & Joana Vilhena Arquitectos
Location: Setúbal, Portugal
Team: Joana Vilhena, Ricardo Carvalho, José Maria Rhodes Sérgio, José Roque, Francisco Costa and SebastiãoTaquenho
Year: 2008 – 2010
Photographs: João Morgado
The Modernisation Project for the Sebastião da Gama School is based on improving the school and its relationship with the city of Setúbal. This process includes both exterior and interior areas. The basis of all public spaces, and particularly schools, is about the balanced relationship between both. This relationship is responsible for the memory of the first collectively shareable areas in a community. The project orders, rearranges and locates not only the programme and circulations but also the design of the outside area.
The starting point for the project is the setting – both symbolically and functionally – of an exterior central space, which regularises and completes the area where people circulate, creating a paving plan that is perceptible as the centre of the school. The structural presence of Learning Street (in line with the School Network programme) was interpreted as a way of intercepting all areas of the school, reacting to the succession of interior and exterior, covered and open spaces, finishing off an area of student and teacher activity easily perceptible as a distributive scheme.
For this system to become intelligible and effective, the creation of the new building (which contains the library, multi-use room, copy room, café and outdoor playing field) between the main class building and the gymnasium was very important. This aims to be the logical conclusion of a system that is today considered to be unfinished.
The Project involves:
- Construction of a new porter’s building next to the main gate of the school.
- Rehabilitation, infra-structural and anti-seismic intervention. Improvements in the area of heating/air-conditioning, acoustics and accesses, such as vertical communications (with the installation of a lift in the west atrium).Emphasising the central nature of the Atrium and from there establishing links with all the programmatic areas.
- Improvements to the workshops and conditions in the area of heating/air-conditioning, acoustics and accesses. Changes to the old mechanics workshop, in order to allow the creation of an indoor football pitch, changing rooms and stands. This provides a covered sports area with natural light, which can be used by the local community without affecting the smooth running of the school.
- Improvements to outside areas, restoration of paved areas, creation of shaded areas, installation of fixed furniture and leisure zones with planting of trees.
The project puts the programmatic areas into order, establishing a hierarchy of use and inter-relation, using their scale and dimensioning vocation, their position in relation to the Atrium and other available areas within the existing space as a starting point. The main teaching area groups were kept and diffuse uses were changed, concentrating uses with programmatic similarities.