THE REAL VINÍCOLA
The property that will receive CASA DA ARQUITECTURA is located in Matosinhos and occupies the block delimited by Av. Menéres, R. Mouzinho de Albuquerque, R. Sousa Aroso and R. D. João I. The edifices, now recovered and adapted, were part of the old factory built between 1897 and 1901 by the company Menéres & Companhia and meant for the Real Companhia Vinícola. Unaffected by progressive industrial transformation and the urbanization of its surroundings, it was selected for preservation and adaptation because of its high patrimonial and cultural value. It is a model of British inspiration and tradition, where the region’s first steam cooperage was installed. A byway of the rail line connected it to the docks of the Port of Leixões for shipment and export of its output. The building is characterized and visually dominated by turrets. The central
courtyard appears as a Plaza Mayor, making it suitable it for collective uses. The property is part of the Urbanization Plan of Matosinhos Sul, by Álvaro Siza.
CASA DA ARQUITECTURA occupies part of the block of the Real Vinícola, a group of buildings with a total an area of 4.700 m2 restored by the Municipality of Matosinhos with a project by architect Guilherme Machado Vaz. The public areas for exhibitions and presentations — with an auditorium, a library and shop represent 36% of the total space; conservation and maintenance, 38%; and management and internal production,10%. Common areas correspond to 16% of its surface.
Moving to the Quarteirão Real Vinícola will give CASA DA ARQUITECTURA the physical and technical conditions necessary to carry out its proposed mission.
Re-establish the balance of forces between Nature and the human spirit
The architectural project — which comes a hundred years after the Real Vinícola was built, between 1897 and 1901 — is grounded on the existing ruins and their rehabilitation, through an investigation on the historical context of the industrial buildings.
“The instant a building crumbles”, said Simmel, “this means nothing more than the mere forces of nature beginning to predominate over human work: the balance between Nature and spirit, which the building manifested, moves in favour of Nature. “
The main objective of this project was to re-establish the balance of forces between Nature and the human spirit. A balance achieved through a negotiation with both Nature, which claims a space that was once hers, in an endless struggle; the human spirit, which manifested a hundred years ago and built the space; and with the spirit that will necessarily have to manifest today and establish a dialogue with the previous two.
An example of this dialogue is the trees growing inside one of the buildings, which have been maintained by creating exterior patios. The building was once again occupied, but the rights acquired by Nature over the years in which the place was abandoned were respected.
We tried to draw in accordance with the original project, whenever possible. All exterior dimensions were recuperated, the design of the wood trusses remained, all woodwork was rebuilt. We sought to maintain the industrial spirit of the place.
There were changes in function which implied new spaces, new infrastructures and new legislation to comply with. Concrete staircases placed outside the building were required for fire safety reasons. It was decided not to introduce them in the interior due to the negative impact they would have on the steel structure of the slab, with its beauty expressed in the almost infinite repetition of the structural module created by the pillars and the beams. It was necessary to open windows on the east elevation of the block. Since we were introducing a new element into the project, we chose to adopt the contemporary character of the intervention rather than to disguise it — by making the new windows frames pressed against the wall, in opposition to the existing windows which are mass taken from it.
In addition to seeking this balance between the different intervening forces, we wanted it to be visible and manifest itself in all its veracity. We believe that matter should, in this particular instance, be perceived in both space and time.