|Project Name||A Square in Summer||Posted in||Cultural, Public facilities||Location||
Praça do Império
|Project Team||José Neves||Client||Garagem Sul - Centro Cultural de Belém||Completed||2017|
The cleft limestone cladding the walls of Lisbon's Cultural Centre of Belém (CCB) was transformed in 2017 by Portugese architect, José Neves, through the use of a very humble material: cork. Sponsored by Amorim Isolamentos and curated by André Tavares, A Square in Summer, the project, has redefined the existing space, breathing new life into it through a simple shift in its scale; or rather the perception of this achievement.
Solid blocks of brown cork where used to build a "panneling-like lining" around the lower half of the Cultural Center’s south-facing limestone walls, beginning with a 4.2 meter high frame that surrounds the entrance to the square which then dips down to a height of 2.8 meters, a height which remains consistent throughout the rest of its 68 meter length. As far as style goes, this modulated cork panneling was designed in accordence to the existing architecture of the square, which provides access to the Museum, the restaurant and the hanging garden overlooking the river.
The use of cork is very interesting as this is a material that is not only light and durable - which in turn adds a "lightness" to the square itself - but is also transformational, in that it changes its state, color and texture, as time progresses.
The new panneling also included various elements that made it user-friendly for the thousands of people who visit the CCB during the summer months, such as benches, formed in the cork panneling itself, that allowed visitors a moment of respite in the shade (the south wall is in the shade for a large portion of the day). In following the cork wall's length towards the western end of the square, visitors are led to an outdoor movie theater - complete with cork seats - in a corner spot sheltered from the wind thereby making it perfect for night-time screenings.
An outdoor screening room. An intereactive installation. The redefinition of an existing space. All in all, A Square in Summer proves the amazing power that lies in the utilization of such a humble, yet multifaceted, material.