Architects: Atelier Carvalho Araújo
Location: Braga, Portugal
Design Team: José Manuel Carvalho Araújo, Joel Moniz, Pedro Mendes, Filipa Casaca, André Torres, Leandro Silva, Ana Vilar, Sandra Ferreira, José João Santos, Carlos Vinagre
Structural Engineering: Pedro Alves
Photographs: Hugo Carvalho Araújo
From the architect. The intervention in the former building of the GNR (military police) brings together all the concept of dynamism of Braga European Youth Capital 2012. The project uses the concept of occupation as motif. The occupation by man and nature. It explores the boundary between an abandoned existing structure and a new invasor construction who takes over the space. A space in constant regeneration, rather than a final object.
The building should be central to the creative industries. It should be a building against the rule, the limit, the discipline. Symbolically it contrasts with his previous use of GNR to a space that lies in its antipodes, the “GeNeRation Lab”. To accomplish that it should stop being a indifferent piece of the city puzzle. It must have the ability to stir, create controversy and scream loudly. In a time of change and celebrating the spirit of youth, the building of the GNR cannot remain invisible, as a silent observer on the adjacent square, alongside their peers. It has to jump into the arena, go on stage and wear sequins.
Outside there are two types of intervention. A direct action on the existing building, with clippings of the facades, including windows in the ground floor that will be ripped up to the pavement, thus considering all the facades of the building as noble facades.
In the corner of the facade a more abrupt cut suggests the break of the new development. An open wound that exposes the building and its interior captures the viewer’s attention to this point. Here begins the first intervention of a building that presents a new face. It is the metaphor of a building in disequilibrium, which explores the limits of fear of adventure, the unknown and therefore in constant motion and nonconformist.
The second level of intervention suggests an “invasion” of space and backyard patios with a mixture of plant and infrastructure, which “grab” the facades, reshaping the image of the interior lots, emphasizing the concept of semi-occupied space that was appropriated over time. The project works by stratified layers, supporting the project in this temporal relationship, which acts as father of the new generation. This bold new attitude is rooted in history.
It is created a metal frame that moves away from the facade to allow the passage of pipes behind the front supports and a composition of vessels that support the plant structure. Occasionally these vessels are replaced by translucent glass areas or plates, which show some features of interior spaces. It can be an entrance, an extension of a visual axis or a balcony that appears unexpectedly, on the patio, as a pulpit.
From this intervention that conforms to the courtyards, there is a large opening to the public space, facing the street Avenida Visconde Nespereira. This grand opening comes as a vacuum space that suggests the extension of public space to the interior and vice versa, in a game of rope. This empty space is a key part in the relationship that will be established with the city of Braga, so we suggest the demolition of the existing wall, creating an alternative solution with great physical and visual permeability.
This composition is also expressed as a new piece that is deployed, visible and distinct from its host.