"Architecture is this: imagine a desert, place two sticks, and then someone passes by".
Driving for a while on this vast and rocky landscape, another lump takes shape on the horizon. As one gets closer, one starts realizing a more linear shape, and wondering if it is Nature or an intervention. When finally there, you understand it is a building.
This idea of a building sprouting from the landscape set the basilar approach for our project, hence the building’s shape and materials. Ramping out from the ground through a walkable green roof as a continuation of the landscape’s flora, and anchoring on two massive walls made of local stones, the building takes its shape. The space between the two walls resembling the fissure, together with the sloping roof confer to the building a sense of belonging.Entering through a cave-like ledge, and after a few steps into the room, one experiences a space decompression by arriving at the visitor’s desk and faces the tilting roof with the great landscape framing window at the end of the room.
The clear differentiation between the vertical and the horizontal planes that shape the space and its uses is established through a strictly followed rule of having the stone shaping the vertical planes and the wood the horizontal ones.
The ultimate gesture of that differentiation are the promenade stairs, visible from every corner of the main room. The stairs themselves are drawn in a way to simulate what could be the climbing of a natural slope, made of stone and with different gradients along the way, hence the fact of each stair flight having its own rhythm and dimensions.
After that catwalk climb one arrives at the observation platform, and then again, there is the vast and rocky landscape.
Visitor Center / Observation Tower
Rui Santos + Ricardo Ibrahim
Competition - shortlisted