The architectural project of Real Vinícola – Casa da Arquitectura in Matosinhos, Portugal– which comes a hundred years after the Real Vinícola was built, between 1897 and 1901 – is grounded on the existing ruins and their rehabilitation, through an investigation on the historical context of the industrial buildings. The main objective of this project was to re-establish the balance between the forces of nature and the human spirit. A balance achieved through a negotiation with both nature, which claims a space that was once hers, in an endless struggle; the human spirit, which manifested a hundred years ago and built the space; and with the spirit that will necessary have to manifest today and establish a dialogue with the previous two.
An example of this dialogue are the trees growing inside one of the buildings, which have been maintained by creating exterior patios. The building was once again occupied, but the rights acquired by nature over the years in which the place was abandoned, were respected. Guilherme Machado Vaz tried to draw in accordance with the original project, whenever possible. All exterior dimensions were recuperated, the design of the wood trusses remained, all woodwork was rebuilt. The architects sought to maintain the industrial spirit of the place.
There were changes in function which implied new spaces, new infrastructures and new legislation to comply with. Concrete staircases placed outside the building were requires for fire safety reason. It was decided not to introduce them in the interior due to the negative impact they would have on the steel structure of the slab, with its beauty expressed in the almost infinitive repetition of the structural module created by the pillars and the beams. It was necessary to open windows on the east elevation of the block. Since the architects were introducing a new element into the project, they chose to adapt the contemporary character of the intervention rather than to disguise it – by making the new windows frames pressed against the wall, in opposition to the existing windows which are mass taken from it. In addition to seeking this balance between the different intervening forces, they wanted it to be visible and manifest itself in all its veracity. They believe that matter should, in this particular instance, be perceived in both space and time.
Design and info © Guilherme Machado Vaz
Images © Luís Ferreira Alves