Torres Vedras Public Library

culture , Honorable Mention
Torres Vedras, Portugal

Torres Vedras Public Library

Year – 2016
Public competition – Honorable Mention
Client – Torres Vedras Municipality

Location – Torres Vedras, Portugal
GPS – 39°05'32.3"N 9°15'36.6"W
Site Area / Area – 4.325 sq.m / 7.455 sq.m
Budget – 5.800.000,00 €


Partners – Albuquerque Goinhas, Cristina de Mendonça, Nuno Griff

Project Team – João Catarrunas, Oscar Barnay, Elyssa Le Gac, Pavol Dobsinsky

Engineering – PFV (Pedro Viegas)

Landscape Architecture – Catarina Raposo, Joana Marques, Pedro Gusmão, Samuel Alcobia (BALDIOS)

3D Visualization – NU.MA (Nuno Silva)

This international competition launched by the Municipality of Torres Vedras aimed to optimise resources by creating a public space with a double function, the New Public Library and a Toy Museum. The area destined for this new initiative was in the historical centre, a residual space, that had experienced some collateral damage as a result of an abandoned urban operation.

The proposal that was presented sought to make use of the empty space while simultaneously reusing the past as a structuring element for the future. Therefore, more than just a building, the proposal sought to create an urban fact, capable of absorbing the various fragments of its context, linking a strong sense of intimacy with a robust social habitat that was firmly rooted in the daily life of the city.

The area available for intervention (2,600 sq.m), the required interior programme areas (2,760 sq.m + 4,000 sq.m) and the need to guarantee public outdoor spaces, determined that the building would need to be placed in a single piece on the available land. The building would have strong horizontality characteristics which would connect the separate parts of the programme – the alternative being to create several separate vertical structures. In a location that is influenced by the presence of the Santiago church (to the south), it was necessary that the proposed pedestrian area would flow through the surrounding streets (Rua do Terreirinho, Rua dos Celeiros de Santa Maria, Rua Serpa Pinto, Rua Dr Aleixo Ferreira and Travessa de São Tiago).

The intervention strategy began by celebrating the existing urban void and creating a square, that modelled and articulated the dimensions of the surroundings. During a second phase, the project generated a new area in the city, a quarter that now articulates and contains the requested design. This guarantees the physical and visual unblocking of the Santiago Church, and the urban connections between all the different paths that converge within it. The link between the Castle and the Santa Maria Church was maintained, fulfilling the programme demands.

The new Municipal Library and Toy Museum is thus a territorial infrastructure, a new meeting place, inviting the community to connect with their own knowledge and to interact with other members of the community. It provides the city with the opportunity to learn and look at their culture through the lens of an intense spatial experience.

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