Mateo Arquitectura begins design for €12m Portuguese Cultural Center with sloping plaza
When designing the Cultural Center in Castelo Branco, Portugal, Mateo Arquitectura began not with the building itself, but with the plaza beneath. For Josep Lluis Mateo, it was important that the plaza slip gracefully beneath the building and therefore the team set out to to create a form that would appear to ‘float’ upon the ice rink at its base. In a short statement Mateo refers to the form as ‘compact and well insulated, a bubble of sheltered activity, but still related to the exterior’.
This plaza was constructed during the first phase of the project in 2007 and the second phase - focusing on the cultural centre itself - has now completed. The plaza incorporates a public ice rink which is now covered by the bulk of the cultural centre, whose form rests on two piles to protect skaters during adverse weather conditions.
Visitors gain access to the building through a gentle downward slope which leads to the basement level. This floor hosts the main reception and a grand gallery, naturally lit through skylights at ground level. The primary function of the ground level is as a transition space, providing access to all floors and distributing daylight throughout.
The zinc- and wooden panel-clad bulk of the cultural centre is home to the main auditorium, coupled with additional gallery space lit by a generous skylight. These areas benefit from double-height ceilings and mould to the unusual shape of the building, creating unique interior spaces. Visitors will also find a bar on the second floor in close proximity to the auditorium entrance and a multipurpose space which can be used for further exhibitions and displays.