Guarda EMIO

culture , 1st Prize
Guarda, Portugal

Guarda EMIO


Year – 2001 
Public Competition – 1st Prize
Client – PolisGuarda S.A.

Location – Rio Diz Urban Park, Guarda, Portugal
GPS – 40°33'02.2"N 7°14'59.9"W
Site Area | Area – 2803 sq.m | 1064 sq.m
Budget – 360.000,00 €
Status – unbuilt

Partners – Albuquerque Goinhas, Augusto Marcelino, Cristina de Mendonça, Luís Baptista, Nuno Griff, Pedro Patrício, Sofia Antunes

Photography – model: ©DMF (Daniel Malhão) | video: MTG (Mercês Tomaz Gomes)

This public facility, an Environmental Monitoring and Interpretation Office (EMIO) was part of a new master plan for the development of a municipal park located on the outskirts of the city of Guarda. The intervention area is limited on the East border by highway access, and is relatively unrestricted on the other borders. The only structure in the vicinity was a school located to the South (Escola S. Miguel).

The competition brief required the rehabilitation of an old, ruined water-mill, a structure that, although without any historical value, held certain morphological and spatial qualities. It was a ruin located in a difficult and unqualified landscape that the new park alone wouldn’t be able to modify.

In the search for balance and wishing to improve on the possibilities of the building site, and its qualities, the former interior spaces were transformed into inner courtyards (similar to the existing layout), while the programme was conceived as an exterior ribbon to be wrapped around the existing ruins. To deal with the topography, the new structure changes its height, adapting to the ground levels and at the same time differentiating, programmatically, the spaces inside the structure. Where the design meets the road, the building rises majestically, asserting its presence above the cars circulating below.

In the interior, the programme is developed as a continuous promenade, allowing different activities and functions to exist throughout the space. Rather than a large dimensional and generalised space, the design aims to create a multi-character, dynamic unit. The complexity of the building is the direct result of several extensions applied in order to make it appropriate for the programme, the ruins and the topography.

The new building rises from the now preserved ruin, it is in the courtyards that the natural light and ventilation are captured, allowing the outline of the structure to remain as abstract and simple as possible.

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