ARX interprets Portuguese’s old construction techniques with new form for Costa Nova Cultural Center

  April 19, 2017 - 18:38   1410     Submitted by Hugo Ferraz

ARX, is one of the most relevant architecture office in Portugal.  Based in Lisbon, their work has been recognized by the clarity of the ideas transported to the quality of the projects and the Socio-Cultural Center of Costa Nova is one of this examples. Built near the sea, in a area of dunes, the building makes the transition between the urban mesh and the beach. Here we can find the new health care center, a social center, and a show room for exhibitions and other public events.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

The idea is to seek the constructive traditions of the typical constructions of Costa Nova "palheiros", and apply it to the new build with different uses.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

These small houses with vertical or horizontal stripes, which were formerly warehouses of fishing materials, or warehouses of sardine salting, were converted into bathing residences and represent a significant part of tourism in this region and is reflected in the local economy.

The old "palheiros" converted into bathing residences via Portugal Tour 

The building represents a fine example of how we can use contemporary wooden construction for public spaces and not just for housing construction which in most cases are prefabricated houses, without relating to the history of the place and the place in itself.

''This is why the whole construction, made entirely of wood, as the original ''palheiros'', seats on a semi-buried foundation mesh in reinforced concrete, as to stable the building that will ''hover'' over the dune,'' stated in ARX’s project description.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

The application and use of the wood is done with a fine, careful and delicate rigor, conveying this feeling of calm and tranquility. One of the conceptual premises of the project that was to reinterpret in a contemporary way the characteristic and ancestral forms of Costa Nova is achieved in a clear and unequivocal way. And they do it well because we easily recognize the relationship between the old buildings "palheiros" and the new construction.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

We easily recognize the relationship between the old buildings "palheiros" and the new construction. If on the one hand, the building presents itself with a more rough exterior, in the form of an inverted ship, the interior is careful and rigorous where the predominant color is white.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

A wooden walkway crosses the sand and allows the connection of the urban agglomeration to the beach. It was also a clear intention of all the coverage to be visited, thus allowing a unique view of the beach and the sea. 

The construction of the roof is also all in wood with some sand, so that the building merges with the dunes and enters on the territory in a natural way, almost as if it had always been there.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Thus we can conclude that the carefully designed building gains so much importance in its inner use, by the functions attributed to it as by the exterior, through the way in which it was intended to be used. It becomes an obligatory passage for those who visit Costa Nova.

''The new building, with its multifunction profile and symbolic and public presence, proposes to take its place as an end piece for both the bordering buildings and the natural place,'' stated in ARX’s project description.

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Project facts

Architecture: ARX Portugal/ Nuno Mateus, José Mateus

Owner: Câmara Municipal de Ílhavo

Location: Avenida da Nossa Senhora da Saúde, Costa Nova, Aveiro, Portugal

Project: 2011

Collaborators: João Dantas, Ricardo Guerreiro, Sofia Raposo, Emanuel Rebelo, Fábio Cortês, Filipe Cardoso, Bruno Martins, Fábio Rosado, Sara Nieto, Héctor Bajo, Baptiste Fleury, Ana Fontes, Luís Marques, Joana Pedro

Technical team: SAFRE; PEN; António Paiva Fernandes

Area: 1420 m2

Top image: Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center in the Ilhavo - ARX. Image © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

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