Submitted by Hugo Merino Ferraz

Portuguese office awarded in the RIBA International Fellows 2017

Portugal - Feb 7, 2017 - 18:02   4717 views

Menos é Mais (Less is More) it is a Portuguese office, that was awarded in the RIBA International Fellows 2017 at a ceremony at the RIBA headquarters in London last week, as part of the 2017 RIBA Royal Gold Medal. This year was among the 12 non-UK architects distinguished by the prestigious prize of the Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA.

Founded by Francisco Vieira de Campos and Cristina Guedes, the office is established in Porto, where they develops their work and teach in the same Faculty that they graduated, (FAUP) Faculty of Architecture of University of Porto.

We can highlight some of Menos é Mais' most relevant projects, such as Contemporary Arts Center in the Azores - Archipelago, the Gaia Cable Car in Vila Nova de Gaia and the Quinta do Vallado Winery in Peso da Régua, Portugal.

Contemporary Arts Center in the Azores - Archipelago. Image © José Campos

The design of Archipelago – Contemporary Arts Center – maintains the industrial character of the whole and highlights the dialogue between an existing building -  (former factory of alcohol / tobacco) and the new construction (arts and culture center, storage facilities,  multipurpose hall / performing arts, laboratories, artist studios).

Covering a total of 13,000 square-meter area with exterior arrangement, the design provides a balance between the old and the new buildings. On the contrary, it combines the different scales and times of its parts throughout a pictorial manipulation of the form and materiality of the buildings – the existing buildings demarked by the volcanic stone masonry and the new buildings characterized by an abstract form, without reference or allusion to any language.

The building is built in concrete with local basalt inert continuously working with the variation of surfaces, textures and rugosity, complementing the mass of the building with the emptiness of the patios.

The Gaia Cable Car in Vila Nova de Gaia. Image © Alberto Plácido

The high station, initially placed at the elevation of the Morro garden with the same assumptions as the base station, when moves on to be implemented on the slope, thereby forcing a complete reformulation of the concepts already established. The new building, more exposed and more visible, leads to a design inevitably marked on the landscape, which requires a constant play with the scales. 

This constitutes a fresh challenge to accommodate the new infrastructure with minimal impact on the landscape while responding to the complex technical and structural requirements necessary for the construction of a cable car motor station. Thus, it became a building of geometric and also structural complexity.

The Gaia Cable Car in Vila Nova de Gaia. Image © Alberto Plácido

The high station is concealed in the existing wall/buttress and is intended to have a neutral and abstract nature, without language, almost timeless. The design reconciles the orthogonality of the hamlet with the obliquity of the axis of the cable car, counterposing the monumental nature of the building on the hillside with the domestic scale of the adjacent dwellings. 

''Access to the upper side is possible from the ramps and stars that lead to the covered viewpoint, which consolidates and completes the existing abutment wall. As a 'round trip', the enjoyment of the place is exploited as well as the views over porto,'' said Menos é Mais

Vallado Winery. Image © Alberto Placido

''The proposed expansion of the winery at Quinta do Vallado reconciles the need for the expansion of the existing winery with proper integration into natural landscape,''  said Menos é Mais.

The building is stretched out along the natural landscape and creating a monolithic wall effect with its rustic and colorless appearance. The intervention provides for the maintenance of the existing buildings, complemented by the restructuring necessary for the construction of new buildings: a warehouse for barrels and a new reception.

Vallado Winery. Image © Alberto Placido

Sitting on a 4,000 square-meter area, all the volumes are constructed in concrete with bush hammered finish on the interior, as the exterior is covered with slate that has been treated in a contemporary manner.

RIBA Ceremony. MEM with Jane Duncan. Image courtesy of Menos é Mais/Facebook page.

Top image: Contemporary Arts Center in the Azores - Archipelago. Image © José Campos 

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