Recovery of the House of S. Sebastian
Museum and Municipal Arquive / Memory Centre
The recovery of the ancient House of S. Sebastian for installing the Memory Centre is part of the urban regeneration policy that the City Council of Vila do Conde is pushing out, in order to promote the provision of cultural equipments in buildings of architectural recognized value. The program prepared for the Memorial Centre, includes the introduction of a set of skills with references to the archive and the city’s museum.
The existing building covers an area of approximately 2,700 m2 is restructured to get the part destined for exhibitions whose main theme is the history of and urban education, social and cultural of city, and the vast and rich territory of the municipality, it also includes venues for holding conferences and areas of extension education. The two new bodies have doubled the area of the existing building, comprising approximately 5,400 m2, receive deposits and areas of technical treatment, comprising an area of shelving and storage modulus of about 6,000 ml.
At the ground floor were installed reception room valences, room for temporary exhibitions and room for contemporary art exhibition on the 1st floor. An example of the many existing municipal manors in Vila do Conde, are the stairs which has access to the first floor which is the piece that is the most cenographically cared for. While in the other remaining urban manors, the stairs are built in the interior of the atrium which serves as access to the second floor, the House of S. Sebastian corresponds to the model of the rural manor in Minho with the staircase outside the perimeter of the building. Its location is lateral to the main facade oriented to the street, spreading out from an almost interior courtyard accessible trough a portal surmounted by a coat of arms.
The restructuring plan of the building and its adjustment to the principles of functional program recommended, formalizes the distribution of different valences through three types of areas of independent and interdependent operation. The existing house, the block for the deposits and the block that organizes the reception and the galeries of modern art, were distributed according to principles and the safety requirements.
The old building has undergone careful restoration, with emphasis on the recovery of the old plaster, carefully restored, as well as decorative and original artwork, particularly the nineteenth-century hall fully restored. The distribution and linkage between the old and the new spaces, is processed through the eighteenth century courtyard now covered with a triangulated structure. In the new body built in concrete were installed the deposits of the File and the contemporary art galleries.
For the purpose of optimizing the exhibition circuit, installed on the pre-existing building, stairs were to link the ground floor to the first floor. These stairs inserted in the baroque building, acquired their own geometry being coated with Corten steel. The former house contained a farming area reasonable size, allowing to draw a garden with almost 7.000m2 within the ancient walls of the manor, keeping the old yard, now urban garden, the pre-existing characteristics of medieval Vila do Conde.
The intervention on the ground was minimal, using the pre-existing paths which would give access to the agricultural fields, correcting and hitting some crossings keeping in essence the existing trails, which curiously fit the desired geometry to access the different sites. It was used recycled granite from demolition, which was applied for consolidation and sometimes for the extension of the pre-existing retaining walls.
On footpaths, and in most cases, recycled granite was also used. To provide transparency and identity to the garden, the existing wall at Rua 5 de Outubro was torn down, substituting it with a transparent grid which brought in visibility to the interior of the garden.
It finally took up the theme of water found in underground mines, now rushing to the surface following the main routes.