Architecture

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

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The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

Preexistence

As the sea became overthrowing the crags, the shoreline at Cascais is extremely abrupt and rocky. Here, we find Ponta Alta do Guincho where is Crismina’s battery, a place somewhat isolated with a wild landscape, being deployed to cross fire with Alta’s battery, in the north, and to protect the small beach in the south.

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

Nowadays left in the lurch, the battery acts as a sort of extension and finish of a rocky edge which is diluted in the landscape.

Its own monolithic, raw and rustic look, practically without any type of element to establish a relationship of human scale, drawing a hexagonal polygon from different angles and sides, as mentioned before, which deludes in its proportions and in different thickness of the walls.

However, the only element that gives scale to the artifact is a portal that works as entry and is opened to the wide sea.

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

So, thereby, the new construction is on low priority to respect the patrimony’s presence in the landscape: identifying the most important elements acclaims for a conceptually strong and serene proposal allowing to clarify its character, its meaning in the relation to the context and its plastic memory to the community, showing its typological and historical uniqueness.

Methodology and conceptual approaching

There is an important attempt in the new design: a conversion of Crismina battery to an Art Center, to establish a relationship with the preexistence. Chronologically, we have two key moments – the battery construction, between 1762 and 1763 and, in 1832, its expansion with the construction of the collar-wall.

Indeed the outcome of a process of natural selection or dementia of the man, the advanced state of disrepair provides a state of silence, generated by the abandonment, hailing a clear proposal, without noise, and that the project dares to maintain. Reference is, therefore, to the attempt of the proposal, respecting the presence that the assets have on the landscape and identify greater sustainability elements, which acclaims by a strong and serene conceptually proposal, and to clarify the its character, its meaning in relation to the context and its plastic memory to the community, emphasizing its typological and historical uniqueness.

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

Program and functionality

One of the main changes that the project plans is related to the simple entry time. Understanding the span as a “non-wall”, the moment is no longer carried out by the original door. An attitude held by the will of, in a single gesture, relate and allow the reading of a provisional synthesis between the three elements that make up the new program – the garden, the wide sea, and the ruin – that is, trying to make a synthesis of the complementarity between the context and the architecture that the project aims to promote, but also in an attempt to be part of the new physiology that the programmatic addition imposes. At the very end of this bridge, we have the complaint by a different constructive solution, and understanding of the new spaces hierarchy, as the program is new.

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

That’s the reason why the exterior was designed in order to maintain the character and presence of the ruin. Thus, the approach to the garden is related to what is intended also inside where the ruin always appears in the foreground, preserving the state of silence that the proposal, as stated earlier, is planned to maintain. It is part of a vision and a global logic.

With this, the arrangement of outdoor spaces intends to celebrate the image and all the features inherent to the relationship between the ruin and the landscape, keeping the spirit of the place or, if we want, the Genius Loci, also preserving the presence the ruin already owns. So the intervention in the surrounding is related to the creation of conditions, promptly intervened between the various granitic dykes which outcrop on site for landscape experimentation.

Just as the way as the battery welcomed three artillery pieces, in the form of analogy, the project includes the construction of three “pieces” of greater presence into the ruin.

The first “piece”, the main volume, cast his gaze over the sea, between two battlements that arise, taking the place of a niche – a situation that brings us to the image of a piece of artillery pointed at the sea. Despite the high density demanded by the program, there is an attempt to abstraction, as if this building wanted to merge materially with the landscape. This building houses the reception, the bar, the toilets and the auditorium with their support spaces.

The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work
The Issue of Ruin in the Architectural Work

The other two “pieces” (the other two volumes) follow the logic that the barracks and the bunker have with the wall – which, as we have seen, have a different logic from the parapet. Just as the ruin is a heavy and monolithic body, which only has a span and jutting into the open sea, the two volumes were designed the same way. Each with a telescope pointing to the two different sides of the landscape, thus completing the analogy to the three parts with three different views on the wide sea.

Abstract | Master’s degree thesis of Martim Costa architect, Portugal

See full thesis