Design Team: Nayana de Castro, Lara Barreira, Natasha Catunda
Interns: Samuel Melo, Alice Teles, Paula Thiers
Construction: Ampla Engenharia
Text description provided by the architects. The School Clinic for psychology and physiotherapy of the Vale do Salgado College is located in the city of Icó, which lies in an architectural site that dates back to the 18th century. It is encompassed by the dry steppe-like climate of the state of Ceará. Being located at the limit of the heritage perimeter, the building had to comply with some guidelines imposed by IPHAN, Brazil’s federal government heritage register. The guidelines include following the city's color palette, using local materials on the facades, a maximum height of 7 meters, and setting the building at the very limit of the land plot, without any frontal recoil.
The architectural brief required an academic area aimed at both students and faculty with classrooms, a library, an administrative sector, a main office, a principal’s office, and a teacher's room. Furthermore, it required a physiotherapy clinic with a rehabilitation pool and activities room, and a psychology clinic with rooms for individual, group, couples and children’s psychological treatment. The clinics serve not only the students and staff but also the local community.
The chosen site had a maternity and a police station, both deactivated, as well as a set of three houses. The police station and the houses were demolished while the maternity was partially preserved – a tear was made inside the building to ensure natural lighting and ventilation, and this inner courtyard serves now as a living space for the academic sector, with a translucent roof and exposed concrete benches on a ceramic brick floor. Since the land plot has three fronts, the opposite streets were chosen to provide access to the building. The clinics are facing one street and the academic sector is facing the other one.
A perpendicular circulation area makes the internal connection between them. In the access to the academic sector, three 9 meters wide doors were created to integrate the street with an internal square designed for the confraternization of students. The solution found to meet the guideline imposed by IPHAN for aligning the building to the boundary of the land plot, with no frontal recoil, was to create an external layer of cobogós all around its perimeter, enveloping the building.
A garden was proposed in the space between the cobogó layer and the walls of the classrooms, providing greater thermal comfort for the whole building. To give rhythm to the facades, they were given random openings, alluding to window frames. The respect for the materials and culture of the place combined with a design with striking features gave a strong identity to the building, whilst suiting the climate of the region perfectly. The building manages to emanate a contemporary reading inside the city of Icó, a heritage-listed by IPHAN, but avoiding a conflict with its surroundings.