The Cromeleque Dos Almendres is located within a serene and remarkable landscape, on a gentle slope surrounded by a vast field of cork trees and pasture, overlooking the city of Évora.
This sentence included in the competition brief sets out all the elements that we referred to from the con- cept until the design fase. The silent presence of the megalithic structure, the dense forest of cork trees, and the city of Évora on the
background are the characters that play on this scene.
From the very beginning the question we made ourself has been how to intervene in such a place, without break the fragile equilibrium of the parts and avoiding to interfere a relation that continues unaltered over 3,000 years, but at the same time give a physical answer to the wide program required. Working whitin a natural environment, without preexistences that could help us to give a start to the design pro- cess, brought us to reflect on the fundamentals of the discipline, synthesizing and radicalizing the de- sign in its whole parts. It appears as a simple object, abstract and autonomous, that dialogues with the landscape without interfere, but being part of it. The new volume lays on the edge of the interven- tion site, on the highest point of the hill and already its position represents for us a claim of intents.
On one hand the concrete and solid presence of the stones with their millenary history and their human dimension, and on the other hand the scale of the landscape and of the horizon. If with the stones the dia- logue is established through the materiality and verticality of the architectural object, with the landscape the project declares its autonomy through its pure geometry. The volumes became an archetypical element, a tower, that allows for unprecedented gaze on the megalithic structure and rising to the sky stretches the visitor’s view towards the Portuguese countryside and Évora.
This has been possible moving the whole program required on the semi hypogaèum floor. The tower is now a threshold, a gate, a transition between the new design and the old, where the zenith light leads the visitor to the reception area.
Here a wide opening frames the third element of the scene: the forest of cork trees, which represents the fourth facade, offering a perspective towards the traditional Portuguese landscape. The visitor is than led through the exhibition room through the corridor along the retaining wall, at the end of which he still has glimpses of the forest through the generous openings of the facade.
Eventually through a sequence of staircases he can reach the top of the tower , and admire again the mega- lithic structure. Here he can guess the meaning of this sacred place and try to give an answer to the many questions that still remain unsolved.