Monday, July 16, 2012

Arts and Creative Platform

Arts and Creative Platform in Guimarães, Portugal by Pitágoras Arquitectos, 2012

Guimarães, Portugal is one of two Capitals of European Culture in 2012 (the other city is Maribor, Slovenia), meaning it "will be hosting a major gathering of creators and creations: music, cinema, photography, fine arts, architecture, literature, thought, theatre, dance, street art." Yet the Capital of Culture designation also means it will be "a catalyst for development of the city and surrounding region, having Culture, in its broadest sense, as the main driver of this transformation." One element of this transformation is the Arts and Creative Platform designed by Pitágoras Arquitectos.

The project involves the renovation of a public square and buildings and the design of a new building on a centrally located public space used as the Municipal Market. An industrial building on the site's southern boundary was demolished to make way for the new building, but the existing buildings on the north and east were gutted and fitted out with new facades. The project encompasses three program areas: Art Center (exhibitions, performance), Creative Labs (business support offices), and "Workshops to Support Emerging Creativity" (vocational work spaces).

The new building creates a striking backdrop to the newly surfaced public space. The complex, block-like facades are composed of bronze rainscreen and black reflective glass. The brass surfaces take on a particularly tactile appearance through their articulation in slender rectangular tubes spaced apart from each other. Their juxtaposition with the black glass surfaces accentuate the volumetric recesses and cantilevers that occur.

Where the new building is brass and glass outside, it is almost devoid of color inside. White surfaces define the floors, walls, and ceilings; even the solid white guardrails blend into the surroundings. Relief comes in the form of the literally black box theater. The white spaces pine for some activity through artwork and visitors, just as the public space invites people and performances. The latter is reminiscent of the large space in front of the Pompidou in Paris, which is out of scale with its surroundings but a magnet for crowds. The central location of the Arts and Creative Platform should make it a popular destination, giving the minimalist building some zest and vitality.

Photographs are courtesy Joao Morgado - Architectural Photography.