ARRAIOLOS – Portuguese design practice CVDB Arquitectos recently completed the design of a museum which neatly fits into a space that once served as a hospital in Arraiolos, a small town located about an hour away from Lisbon, Portugal. The rehabilitation project strives to provide a valuable contribution to the context it is set in. The intervention reinforces the character of the public place it overlooks and thus participates in shaping a local identity.
The existing structure has undergone multiple transformations in use, as well as in form over the years. The architects have come to realise that some of these transformations were actually holding real architectural qualities and, therefore, may be worth preserving. Though the studio’s design speaks a truly contemporary language, the dialogue between the new and the old is respectful and operates profitably as it provides a sense of place and remains imbued with cultural relevancy.
That said, CVDB Arquitectos succeeded in laying out efficient plans, ensuring that all functional requirements were met. They explain: ‘The central axis – from which all major circulation paths stem from – organises the programme. This core serves the building’s three main public areas, that is the exhibition room on the first floor as well as the multipurpose room and the education services, both at ground level.’
The design brings height to the space through vaulted ceilings and features a number of openings – and passages – that establish engaging visual connections within the interior spaces and frame strategic views of the traditional surroundings. A structural system of steel beams, along funnel-shaped skylights coexist with traditional elements such as triangular wooden trusses. It results in a compelling proposal that stays significant to its historic, architectural and cultural values.