Site Art Center Cascais
Architect: Octobre office
Client: ArkXsite
Status: Competition (2015)
Location: Cascais, Portugal
Coordinates: 38.723035, -9.478810
Climate: Temperate, Mediterranean
Material: Concrete
Environment: Seaside
Visualizer: Studio
Scale: Medium
Types: Cultural, Museum

The project is defined by a radical construction of a new enclosure surrounding those existing. This strong and conscious gesture results from the advanced state of degradation of the Cresmina’s ruins, which are merging with the landscape to their almost total obliteration.

In contrary, we consequently wanted to emphasize these ruins, to make them visible. Through this will, we chose to reinterpret the traditional vocabulary of the fortress: a massive and imposing construction which paradoxically aims in hiding the interior to protect it.The new enclosure is formalized by white walls, thin and smooth wich totally contrast with the rough materiality and massiveness of the existing walls. At first glance, the new enclosure is extremely visible as detached from the landscape with its new abstract walls. The walls take shape in a sharp and simple rectangular parallelepiped oriented towards the sea.

Deliberately, it is not aligned with the existing enclosing walls, thus creating «anti-chambres» in the residual interstices between new and old walls. The new walls are pierced with large open frame, offering selected sights on the landscape.

By these openings it is possible to walk and pass from “room” to “room” sometimes approaching the enclosing walls to appreciate their materiality, sometimes moving away to appreciate their general form.The ruins are subtlety discovered by these successive approaches and the visitor end up penetrating in the center of the site, finally being able to apprehend the ruins in their globality. The heart of the enclosures, separated from the external environment, accommodates the garden of the sculptures and makes it possible for the visitor to peacefully saunter and admire the various pieces of Art and progress at its rhythm to the view-point, vis-a-vis the sea.

The project, with its simple shape underline the existing and reactivate its intrinsic characteristics. By this architectural will, we chose to position the Artcenter inserted underneath the gournd level lined with cliffs. The entry fits through the passage between the remains of the two refitted massive walls.

The going down is then led trough an underground circulation which emerges in full light straight to the seafront, creating a positive and surprising effect. This access process? plunges the visitor in a voluntary darkness. In order to dissociate the existing site (the garden) and the new project, the staircases create a strong physical rupture, expressing the passage between old and new. The building is literally clinging to the cliffside. This feeling is also traduced in the project by an entirely glazed facade open to the sea along which the gallery is arranged. This façade is contrasting with the blind walls along the cliffs.

In the same way, the coffee, the reading room and the workshop maintain a close relationship with these cliffs. The creation of patios dug into the rock and in direct contact with these spaces, reinforces the physical link with this strong context. Besides allowing natural light inflows, they offer a single space experiment with the topography of the site.

The workshop of the artist and the offices of the administration are at lower level, below principal stage of the center. Linked by the interior staircase and the elevator, the administrative team is connected directly in the middle of the program, enjoying a balcony largely open on the sea.

Artist benefits an independant entry to his apartment and his workplace. The staircase is designed as a romantic pathway well inserted to the landscape.

Competition: Site Art Center Cascais | Post date: 13/09/2015 | Views: 2.016