Douro's Place
The building is located in the city of Oporto, Portugal, along the Douro river bank since 1939. Originally organized by two autonomous bodies connected by a common boxed staircase, the 1.950 m2 plot of land is totally occupied by the original buildings except for the small square facing the principal road along the river side. The larger dimensioned building was constructed to operate as a refrigerated warehouse to lodge codfish and the lowest body, held the office, residential, social and technical areas. The warehouse principal façade was designed, with a geometric and modular composition, in use at the time. These minimalist horizontal ridges in low relief attenuated the hardness of the extensive blind façade and were adjusted to the functional expression of the volume. The project was based on the conservation of the existing buildings as well as on the maintenance of the essential elements that characterize them; these singular elements were considered important, to the local urban tissue. The distinctive languages of the existing buildings have been conserved; the only intervention was to alter the way they relate between each other. – Demolition of the common boxed staircase allowing a clearer definition of each autonomous volume thus creating clear advantages to its internal organization. The remaining interventions respect the formal structure of the existing facades and are based on the principle of submission towards the inherited building. The most significant changes take place on the warehouse principle façade facing the riverfront. Here the horizontal openings that are metrically adjusted to the horizontal composition of the existing facade connect the new internal organization with the exterior. These are designed frameless allowing a minimal interference with the building’s blind façade. Moving back the window frames allows the introduction of a covered balcony which efficiently shades the southern façade and provides a transition space between the interior and exterior surroundings. Weather permitting; this balcony may be used as an alternative to the interior linking corridor. The lowest building is totally reformulated, preserving however the original structural elements. The new internal organization is completely adjusted to the existing window openings The same was done to the main building. The introduction of a central aisle splits the space longitudinally and serves as a connecting element between vertical circulations, ventilation and natural lighting ducts. Like other interventions within the historic city centre this project proposes to establish a multifunctional program to this area, offering a balanced living experience throughout all hours of the day every day of the week, Access to the buildings is made through the existing square which is re-organized integrating pathways and driveways. Spaces at ground level, facing the river are destined for commercial use transforming the existing openings into window shops allowing a greater qualification of this urban stretch The impossibility of building below ground level and structural limitations, do not allow for the inclusion of access ramps so vertical distribution is achieved floor by floor with two mechanical car lifts, guarantying parking for each housing on the same floor on which they are found providing an extra comfort. Therefore the area opposite the river in the main building is reserved for car parking enabling all the remaining areas to be destined for varied housing typologies.


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