This project by the Miguel Arruda Arquitectos Associados practice is located in the Vila Franca de Xira district of Lisbon, historically tied to its location on the Tagus estuary. The design involved pulling down an old mill to build a public library, between the river and the railway line.
The first step was to integrate the building into the local urban fabric and then add a cycle-path connection. The complex was divided into two parts - one closer to the sea, the other slightly more inland - linked by a raised walkway over the train tracks. The first building, rising seven floors, has the book areas, study and reading rooms, a cafeteria, play areas and offices. The smaller second building has stairs up to the walkway, which leads to the third floor of the main building.
The small structure evokes infrastructure architecture, while the main one is more like the marble blocks used by sculptors. The design of the main building was, precisely, a cube with a cut off corner, giving a sense of dynamism and lightness to the structure. The proximity of the sea and the consequent salty air meant the practice opted to use Mapei’s Mapetherm to protect the elevations and ensure optimal thermal insulation for the ventilated façade. Mapetherm AR2, a product for the Portuguese market, was used to install and level the insulation panels and then, to provide UV protection, a coating of Colorite Performance was applied.
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