The Technological Park site is located in the outskirts of Óbidos, a small and beautiful historic town located approximately one hundred kilometres north of Lisbon. The Óbidos region is still characterised by a mainly rural presenting a still balanced arrangement between forest and small agricultural premises, where small paved surfaces and buildings spread trough this territory in an almost random way.
The design strategy proposes a solution which tries to reverse the ongoing pavement process in this territory trough a solution aiming to reverse this logic, trying to increase as much as possible the green surface. More than designing a building as such, the strategy adopted tries to (re)create an place with a civic realm where landscape is determinant for its spatial structure. The design had also dealt with the competition programme, which, in strange way for us, was asking for a main piazza for a technological park in the middle of a countryside.
In several places of Portugal’s countryside still exist some interesting public spaces called “Terreiros”. Characterising some settlements or small villages, those convivial spaces range from a kind of formless shape almost without buildings surrounding them, to a sort of regular places completely integrated and evolved by small constructions. In those very flexible spaces, throughout the year, small communities organise traditional corteges, informal open air markets, religious processions, music concerts and traditional activities or games.
Much less dependent from an urban fabric, those civic spaces are very flexible and quite strong in providing opportunities to encounter and a wide range of convivial activities. Then, instead of proposing to draw a urban piazza as such, the project shifted to propose a large public space with similar convivial characteristics as a piazza, but much more flexible towards its relation with a building environment or geometry. Other aspect concerned the qualities and characteristics of large buildings in this particular territory.
It was possible to notice that apart from the small built settlements that somehow mark this lusty territory, we could notice some large farms or convents and monasteries scratching thin horizontal lines in the still mainly green landscape. Those larger built structures marking the territory perspective with thin horizontal lines where of crucial importance for the design development. So, the design tried to draw a building that would appear in the landscape mainly as a thin horizontal line, as a subtle long and continuous wall.
The cloisters presented by those religious structures where of particular effectiveness for the requested programme. In fact, as a start-up companies compound, communication and easy contact between users is a fundamental aspect. Or, a cloister structure is quite effective towards the possibility of a strong visual interaction. So, the design process went also trough the possibility of creating a solution where a kind of cloister could be related with all other programme premises.
The resulting design proposal is at the end quite simple and somehow literal towards the addressed references. One inner surface of the plot was partially paved with his limits suggesting a kind of natural – the result of an erosion process – borders. Part of this paved area, the “terreiro”, have random large buttonholes in order to increase soil permeability. Surrounding this space, two long walls incorporates part of the programme and sustain surrounding land. At southwest corner, a new hill is created reusing the land movements needed to imbed all the ground floor program of the building.
On top, above the created civic space and the (re)created and extended landscape, a huge but thin voided square, an office cloister, a frame, floats supported only in six points delimiting the space and filtering the perspectives inwards and outwards.The decision to imbed part of the programme underneath the landscape aims several goals.
One is to increase the green surface within the plot. The other is to decrease energy needs in terms of cooling/warming mechanical systems of the building. Finally, creating the new hill – reusing the land moved to locate the ground floor program – we somehow suggest an southwest natural limit to the “terreiro”, avoiding to spent energy with the transport of that land to other places, and thus avoid to create an embankment elsewhere.
The program was distributed in a very clear and simple way. At ground floor are located all the support spaces as the main meeting and multipurpose room, the Fablab, the small restaurant, some shops and the main technical areas. The floating cloister absorbs almost all the office units for the startup companies and a few labs. Both floors present large areas organised trough a modular structure providing huge flexibility to be adapted concerning the needs. Source by Jorge Mealha.
Location: Óbidos, Portugal
Architect: Jorge Mealha
Project Team: Arch. Andreia Baptista (Coordinator), Arch. Carlos Paulo, Arch. Diogo Oliveira Rosa, Arch. Filipa Ferreira da Silva, Arch. Filipa Collot, Arch. Gonçalo Freitas Silva, Arch. Inês Novais
Structural Engineering: José Ferraz & Associados – Serviços de Engenharias e Consultoria, Lda (Built Project), Eng. José Gomes Ferraz, Eng. Lívio Oliveira, Eng. Bruno Santos
Electrical: Eng. António Ferreira, Eng. Pedro Ramos
Climatisation: Eng. Luís Graça
Fire Consulting: Segurinis, Eng. Jorge Miranda (Built Project); Eng. Joaquim Viseu (Base Project)
Hydraulic: S.E. Serviços de Engenharia Lda
Acoustic: S.E. Serviços de Engenharia Lda
Thermal and Solar: S.E. Serviços de Engenharia Lda
Landscape Architect: Arch. Mafalda Lavrador
Construction Company: MRG Engenharia e Construção S.A.
Gross Floor Area: 4,096 m2
Cost: including external spaces & landscape: 1,076 €/m2
Client: Parque Tecnológico de Óbidos
Nomination: European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2015
Photographs: João Morgado