Back in 2010 the Óbidos Municipality launched an international architectural competition. The aim of the competition was to design the Central Buildings and Main Piazza for the Óbidos Technological Park, intended as a start-up built structure to allocate creative companies. 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 and balanced arrangement between forest and small agricultural premises, where paved surfaces spread trough this territory in an almost random way. The plot designated to build the Óbidos Technological Park main building and main piazza uses the place where before was located the main supply site for the A8 highway construction, that today links Lisbon to the north of the country.
The design strategy proposes a solution that tries to reverse the ongoing pavement process in this territory, trough a solution that tries to reverse this logic, increasing as much as possible the green surface. More than designing a building, the adopted strategy tries to (re)create a place where landscape is determinant for the spatial structure. Maintaining the convivial aims expressed in the competition brief, the design decision focused in the aim of creating a large public space with either an easy and flexible relation with the buildings surrounding it, either as a complement of the natural landscape.
One inner surface of the plot was partially paved with his limits suggesting a kind of natural (suggesting the result of an erosion process) borders. Part of this paved area, the “terreiro”, had some buttonholes in order to increase soil permeability. Surrounding the space, two long walls, sustain land and incorporates part of the programme. At southeast 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 and delimits the space filtering the perspectives inwards and outwards.
The program was distributed in a very clear and simple way. At ground floor are located all the support support spaces as main meeting and multipurpose room, a Fablab, a small restaurant, some shops and main technical areas. On the floating cloister are located 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.
Info and images courtesy of João Morgado – Fotografia de arquitectura