Architects: Manuel Graça Dias + Egas José Vieira (Contemporânea), & Gonçalo Afonso Dias Location: Almada, Portugal Collaborators: José Silvestre, Ricardo Gama, Nuno Moita, Rui Cunha, Susana Alvarez, Carmo Pulpo Correia, Filomena Vicente, Lourenço Vicente, Duarte Correia, Vasco Teodoro, Pedro Coelho, Sara Baptista, Sofia Sanches Models: José António Aires Pereira and Nuno Jacinto Structure: Talprojecto – Tiago Abecassis, Francisco Cima Gomes, Rui Nunes da Silva and Paulo Freire Construction: A. M. Mesquita e Filhos S.A. Video: Vitor Gabriel
Being surrounded by some careless buildings, resulting from the slightly casuistic “urban explosion” that like a curse reached all the country’s towns and cities as of the 1960’s, an anonymous place waits for some occurrence that might articulate the senses, instituting a point of departure towards an apprehensible and nameable organization.
As the more qualified attribute, a line of trees bordering the limit of the Dom António da Costa School, to the east (in this section there is merely a footpath, ramped according to the ground inclination).
They were banal trees that in their accidental arrangement, by the also banal railings of the school, emerged as one of the few possibilities for constituting a site when the other side of the ramp would be later defined. On that side we opened non-phased terraces (for the cafeteria of the atrium and the music café, situated above), the trees and their perfume participating, from there, in a curious and more demanding part, in the middle of which was a rarefied vacant lot of the still new town.
The design accompanies the natural slope of the land for the layout of the main hall, with the inevitably massive stage box rising up on the lowest part in order to reduce its impact, bringing it closer, simultaneously, to an already existing impasse that would then function as an access for loading and unloading.
The main entrance is from Rua Prof. Egas Moniz (street) in which the “head” of the building rises up that following the alignments of the street closes the top of the lot with a volume identical to that of the surrounding buildings, in an attitude of recommended approximation.
A square volume, in which the experimental theatre superimposes the rehearsal theatre and (repeating the dimension of the main stage) occupies a corner of the complex, freeing patios of light in the rotation of the geometries.
A small narrow lane (Actors Alley) surrounds the Theatre, to the west, in keeping with the neighboring cadastral maps and making possible a new access.
To this “varied” programme we added, throughout, a characterisation in form of the different parts, whilst building a desirable volume. The light blue glazed ceramic cladding obsessively “wraps” the whole complex in such a way as to “tighten”, through colour, brilliance and texture, the dispersed and different moments that an organism with this complexity generates and encloses.