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Technology College of Barreiro, Barreiro, Portugal

Tuesday 05 Jan 2010

Barreiro brothers

Fernando Guerra/Sérgio Guerra 
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ARX technology college wins international architecture award 

The Technology College of Barreiro has been awarded the International Architecture Award for the Best New Global Design 2009 by the Chicago Athenaeum, Architect and Design Museum. It has also been shortlisted for ENOR 2009 and FAD 2009, the results of which will be announced in the next couple of months. Located on the outskirts of Lisbon the college was designed by ARX Portugal, the firm lead by brothers Nuno and José Mateus.

There are some projects that cause a public reaction even before their existence, and this college is such an example. The inhabitants of the surrounding ‘neighbourhood’ protested against its existence because they feared the impact a building of large proportions would have, both visually and ecologically. The college is situated in a rural territory which had previously been invaded by constructions intersecting green-gardens and reed plots.

The Mateus brothers commented: “On one hand it ‘dissipates’ and accepts the prevalence of the natural elements, on the other hand it deals with their presence as an artificial element of abstract origin. This principle is highlighted by the constructive choices: big coal-grey block that, when sectioned, reveals a white interior. The architecture becomes more topographic in one of the extremities of the building, where there is no way to tell where the surrounding starts or ends, and in the opposite side, with its more present limits, defined by the alignment of the tops of the different bodies of the building. The structure is placed in the middle of the lot, saving the third part to the north for parking and main entrance, whilst to the south the woods stop being a localized strip and now stretch around and over the building. From the set, one of the bodies of the building – the faculty area – rises in height, thus marking its presence within larger distances and configuring a new urban landmark.”

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