Built in 1968 for second and third cycle students who are between 10 and 15 years of age, the intention of the rehabilitation of the EB23 Luis Verney António (LAV) school was understood as a chance to renew the presence and importance of the school as a reference not only for its users but to the whole community. Consequently, doing so would turn it into a center for meeting and learning.
The winning proposal, designed by LGLS Arquitectos, takes the existing school in the Madredeus area of Lisbon, Portugal to create a reference building in which old and new merge into a single entity. More images and architects’ description after the break.
This neighborhood in the Madredeus area was initially created in the 1940s, as a mini garden city with two-floor villas for workers and grew with the construction of several social housing blocks and towers in the sixties and seventies. Despite its privileged location (a west facing slope towards the river Tagus), the downgrading of social and economic conditions, coupled with the physical isolation from the surrounding urban tissue (the neighborhood is located within a triangle of active railway lines), led to a self-centered community, somewhat disconnected from the rest of the city.
In order to achieve the goals of renewing its presence for the whole community, the possibilities inherent to the new functional brief, the topography and the architectural qualities of the existing buildings were combined, seeking the creation of a reference building in which old and new merge into a single entity.
This synthesis was achieved by the use of a “graft” building that will connect all of the original main buildings to be kept (gymnasium, workshops and classroom building), creating a new entrance, redefining existing patios, resolving differences in topography, and integrating the new sports pavilion. This graft seeks not only to link different buildings and topographical levels but also to provide informal meeting places in key points of the circulation system (something non-existent today), allowing users to find places for conversation or a quick lunch.
The “graft” will house new functions (student facilities, administration and management). Existing buildings will be reused according to their spatial “vocation”: the wide span old gymnasium will house the new eating hall, assembly room and library, the former workshops with north facing skylights will be occupied by drawing and music classrooms while standard classrooms and laboratories will fill the modular classroom building. The new sports pavilion will be half-sunk into the terrain, so that its scale and volume do not compete with the other original volumes.
The “graft” element will also help to clarify the use and meaning of the exterior spaces of the complex: the existing patios will be visually (re)connected between themselves, avoiding a sense of closure by promoting views towards both the distant and the near horizon. The majority of the existing trees will be kept, hinting at the presence of the Madredeus Park to the South, beyond the elementary school.
The proposed functional layout will allow for the exterior community to use some of the school’s new facilities during weekends and nights, namely the assembly room, library and sports pavilion. In addition, the provision of a connection (in the form of a ramp along the northern edge of the plot, linking to the stands of the football field) to the adjacent elementary school num.138 will allow younger pupils to use the new facilities in the LAV school.
The possibility of blending old and new, interior and exterior, students and community, is thus at hand.