The image of “Zona de Couros” is characterized by abandoned or transformed buildings but also memories, sometimes imaginary and subjective, that people developed from the fragments which have reached our days. From those fragments we can retain the treatment leathers tanks we can find a bit all over this area, the buildings and structures in wood and naturally the small river that was the reason for the installation of this activity (treatment of leathers) in this area.
It mattered since the begining of the project process the building location in “Zona de Couros”, an area that suffered some urban segregation from the adjacent walled core of the historic center of Guimarães, but sedimented a rich and autonomous solutions and constructions of industrial buildings that together have an undeniable architectural interest, and immediately provided some themes for reflection and development.
One of those complexs are the buildings that were occupied by the former factory “Freitas & Fernandes”. We're not referencing a single building but a set of constructions arranged around a large courtyard, which largely witness the successive events which shaped “Zona de Couros” we know it today. Part of those buildings are now rehabilitated with the installation of CAFPG.
The set of buildings used for CAFPG - UM, are located west of the large inner courtyard, and was those that have been successively adapted to the needs of the textile production and presented a very unequal condition conservation. In the area now occupied by the CAFPG buildings had become very transformed, either constructively altered (by the introduction of structures in reinforced concrete and brick walls) or spatially (by introducing new levels and access), which made virtually impossible the apprehension of its original state.
The program chosen witch the project materialized can be summarized, candidly, as a school building for the University of Minho focused in the formation of master's and doctoral degrees and distinguishes itself from other units of the same institution because research and their dedicated spaces occupy prime place, but also because it is located off-campus and in the city center.
The building have two floors and reserves recess roofs for use as technical areas. The ground floor hosts the living areas above a double height, pedagogical areas (classrooms) and administrative area. On the first floor are located the offices, laboratories and activity rooms but also the library that conected with social areas seeks a location more reserved and appropriate to its function. The circulation areas have an irregular geometry to give space to the so-called "living lab's" and these will, first of all will be representing areas of the current academic projects.
The buildings and the program place a project dilemma, first, the reality of a building very disfigured and unattractive, and after, the existing expectations in his recovery and rehabilitation. To the question of what would be the proper attitude to the expectations of recovery built, we answered with a proposal for a project with greater flexibility options. We avoid a rigid approach on intervention and implementation, and used a pragmatic and detailed response to each of the equations and problems the project faced. Unknowing the reality of the original building everything would have to go through their reinvention using schematic images cleared of its concrete contents.
Generally, we proposed the demolition of all the areas where we guessed the substitution of original constructive solutions for brick walls and full demolition of existing structures in reinforced concrete, and paradoxically also propose as a fundamental principle the maintenance of the volumetry as an essential repository of the existing building memory.
This is the paradox of the project, the reinvention of the building keeping unchanged its volumetry, using for his external definition elements that characterizes the “Zona de Couros”, wood and granite finishes, or even use systems of light construction when proposing cooper as the finish covers of a significant part of the building. Simultaneously it is proposed the complete reconstruction of the interiors using contemporary materials and languages in order to accommodate and respond to the demands of comfort imposed by regulations.
The landscaping project was limited to the small courtyard formed by the buildings subject of intervention and proposed beyond the dominant granite flagstone in paths and access points, the timely introduction of small green areas and a brick paver in order to assure the intimacy of these spaces with a minimal design that would strengthen the presence of the industrial brick chimney.