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Community Centre, Aires Mateus, Grândola

Cast as one piece: Community Centre by Aires Mateus

The Alentejo region begins around 50 km south of Lisbon. Known primarily for its cork trees, delicious ham and José Saramago’s novel Raised from the Ground, the area is home to several buildings designed by the Lisbon studio Aires Mateus. The community centre in the small city of Grândola has now been added to their number.

The building completely occupies its trapezoidal, 670-m² parcel of land. Its shape resembles the cast arrangement of various pyramidical bodies. Some have been truncated, while others extend to the roof to create skylights. These openings consist of dramatically shaped hollow spaces in the massive structure. The sleek, smooth outer shape stands in contrast to their vertical orientation.

All the spaces devoted to specific uses and storage form a layer surrounding the large event room. This gives the outer wall enough depth to accentuate the effect of the hollow spaces. Those openings in the outer wall seem to be a reinterpretation of forecourts and yards. From within, our gaze is directed through these deliberately places apertures towards details of the neighbouring buildings. In these places, the contrast between the two building styles is particularly clear.

The distribution of the space is created primarily with the geometric design of the ceiling. Curtains allow it the flexibility to accommodate both larger and smaller groups. The sleek design gives users all the freedom they need.

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