Óbidos Technological Park Central Building
Óbidos Technological Park Central Building by Carcavelos-based architect Jorge Mealha, creating offices and a central plaza for a business incubator unit in a rural Portuguese technology park. It was designed in response to a brief of the competition held in 2010 that requested a central piazza providing a communal space for the centre’s inhabitants. Some parts of the topographic constructions are placed underground.
This project’s main buildings suggest the memory of existing and relevant structures in the territory of the region. As often seen in the traditional built structures existent in the Óbidos region, this project assumes a quite simple and clear drawing concerning its mass. From the outside only a long and narrow textured strip is perceived over the natural landscape, evoking those long external walls seen in a few farms, convents and monasteries which punctuate this territory.
On the axis between Lisbon and Coimbra, the Óbidos Technological Park is planed with the aim of linking academic research with business production, especially in the field of creative industries. The project for the main building defines an inhabited topography on which a square-shaped ring rests. All the public spaces, such as main meeting/multipurpose room, shops, restaurant and a fablab are purposely located on ground floor in order to reinforce the public character of the interior void. Working areas are distributed on the first floor on a modular grid that allows great flexibility in the use of the space. This piece of pure clarity seeks to reflect the typology of the cloisters, providing a strong visual relationship with the central square.
- Underneath this perceived body, the two ground floor buildings almost disappear as such, integrated in the landscape of the place. The facade of those two covered bodies, a rusty and perforated textured metal surface with allusive and natural motifs, defines the built limits of the main external and convivial space.
- A pure form, a void square, floats over this central external space defining its limits and framing the views to the surrounding landscape and buildings. The spatial relation between the two ground floor textured facades, elongated trough the retaining walls that conforms the space, try to evoke natural processes of landscape erosion, suggesting a tellurian sense to all the ground system.
- The facade of the buried body is formed by a perforated surface of rusty metal that evokes natural processes of landscape erosion and defines the built limits of the convivial public space.
- From the outside, the base of the building is hidden and only a long and narrow strip is perceived, evoking the walls of monasteries and convents, which are typical in the landscape of the region.
- All public spaces — auditorium, restaurant, shops, library — are purposely located at ground floor in order to enhance public realm. Some workshop spaces are also located at ground floor aiming to suggest possible relations with the external public spaces reinforcing conviviality.
- All the other working areas — offices, open space, meeting rooms, workshops — are on the first floor. This voided square, almost closed to the outside and open to the inside, proposes a flexible grid in order to organize the program, aiming a great amount of freedom concerning changes in space uses.
- Mainly three materials are used. Concrete, Steel and glass. Basically, ground floor is about rough concrete, expressed as a telluric structure. All ground floor as do to with hearth, with its rough and heavy expression.
- Opposed to ground floor, the first floor is all about geometry and precision. A set of huge metal trusses, assembled to create four voided and interconnected prisms, builds a large and floating cloister. The structure organize the modularity of the startup office units that occupy most of the space on this floor.
- The decision to imbed part of the programme underneath the landscape aims several goals. One is to increase the green surface within the plot. The other is to decrease energy needs in terms of AVAC systems for cooling or warming the building. A wide range of the materials employed are recyclable.
Jorge Mealha Arquitecto:
Back in 2010 the Óbidos Municipality launched an international architectural competition to design the Central Buildings and the Main Piazza for the Óbidos Technological Park, as a built structure to allocate start-up creative business companies.
The Technological Park site is located in the outskirts of Óbidos, a small and beautiful historic town located approximately one hundred kilometres north of Lisbon.
The Óbidos region is still characterised by a mainly rural presenting a still balanced arrangement between forest and small agricultural premises, where small paved surfaces and buildings spread trough this territory in an almost random way. The plot designated to build the Óbidos Technological Park main building and main piazza reuses the place where before was located the main construction supply site for the A8 highway, that today links Lisbon to the north of the country.
Mainly three materials are used: concrete, steel and glass. Basically, ground floor is about rough concrete, expressed as a telluric structure belonging to hearth. On purpose, all the marks of the building process where left, acting as a mural texture and a storyboard memory. Also on purpose, the emphasis on the rough plasticity of concrete was seen as a expression feature and towards spatial identity. All ground floor as do to with hearth, with its rough and heavy expression. Internal walls and floors are in concrete. A few appointments in wood (OSB textured panels) and black painted elements (reception counters, acoustic false ceilings, staircases) proposes an internal framework of perspectives, balancing with the expression of the concrete walls.
Externally, at ground floor, apart from windows (double thermal glass with natural color aluminium frame), two materials are used. Concrete and corten steel. The external concrete floor is texturised with metal powder in order to slightly and randomly stain with rust this pavement troughout time. Part of the walls are covered by rusty corten steel panels. Those panels are made using standard modules of scaffold (ref. Meiser) pavement units.
Opposed to ground floor, the first floor is all about geometry and precision. A set of huge metal trusses, assembled to create four voided and interconnected prisms, builds a large and floating square cloister. The structure rims the modularity of the startup office units that occupy most of the space on this floor.
On this floor, circulation is made trough a inner and naturally ventilated circulation, protected by a huge glass surface. External walls are made with light damp proof insulated panels and internal walls have been built with light dry gypsum panels system.
On the cloister, the circulation pavement is in folded perforated steel scaffold units, and false ceiling are in light aluminium suspended sheets. The outer facade is completely covered by light, translucent and transparent white membrane, built with lacquered perforated steel scaffold units.
Project name: Óbidos Technological Park Central Building
Location: Parque Tecnológico de Óbidos, Edificios Centrais, Rua da Criatividade, 2510-216 Óbidos, Portugal
Coordinates: 39.379571, -9.144704
Type: Mixed Use
Gross Floor Area: 4,096 sqm
Design Period: 2010-2012
Construction Period: 2013-2014
Cost: 1.076 €/sqm
Completion Year: 2014
Client / Owner / Developer: Parque Tecnológico de Óbidos
Architects: Jorge Mealha Arquitecto – Rua de Lisboa 164 Rc Dto, 2775-725 Carcavelos, Portugal
- Andreia Baptista (Coordinator), Carlos Paulo, Diogo Oliveira Rosa, Filipa Ferreira da Silva, Filipa Collot, Gonçalo Freitas Silva, Inês Novais
Construction Company: MRG Engenharia e Construção S.A.
- Structural Engineering: José Ferraz & Associados – Serviços de Engenharias e Consultoria, Lda (Built Project), José Gomes Ferraz, Lívio Oliveira, Bruno Santos
- Electrical: António Ferreira, Pedro Ramos Climatisation: Luís Graça
- Fire Consulting: Segurinis, Jorge Miranda (Built Project); Joaquim Viseu (Base Project)
- Hydraulic: Serviços de Engenharia Lda
- Acoustic: Serviços de Engenharia Lda
- Thermal and Solar: Serviços de Engenharia Lda
- Landscape Architect: Mafalda Lavrador
Text Description: © Courtesy of Jorge Mealha Arquitecto, portuguese-architects
Images: © Jorge Mealha Arquitecto, João Morgado