Cork and Mediterranean Whiteness
A stroll through the shady palm-dotted square that adorns Grândola’s Praça da República leads to the new Municipal Library and Archives building, designed by Matos Gameiro Arquitectos and Pedro Domingos Arquitectos. The project had to merge both architectural and urban perspectives, so a careful joint analysis was essential. For example, the library does not stand out as a separate element, but as a spatial continuation of the public square, a kind of grounding landmark for this important crossroads in Grândola.
The deliberate use of sharp lines and essential shapes creates a structure that, as a whole, gives a new identity to the area, an elegant and natural addition that is very much a focal point. To create the porous walls of the exterior of the library, the architects chose Diasen’s Diathonite Evolution, a cork-based thermal bio-plaster to which additional finishing coats were added to produce a thermally insulated, water-repellent and breathable surface.
A sense of calm and balance is felt as one approaches the building, and the same sensations continue as one traverses the interior, into the essential composition of the interior spaces. Once inside, guests immediately enter a cloister where the use of clean lines seems almost like an invitation to peel away the stress of the city and take a moment for yourself, an opportunity to focus on small things and reconnect with yourself. With the sound of water from the cloister’s fountain as a musical backdrop, visitors are drawn into the play of light and shadow created by the architectural volumes through a path that leads past the reception areas and common rooms to the archives and reading room on the upper floor.
Soundproofing is essential in such a building and this was achieved by spraying Diathonite Acoustix+ sound absorbing bio-mortar followed by an Argatherm Acoustix coating, such that every surface of these interiors was insulated, including the two cylindrical columns that rise in the center of the hall. However, the architects were not satisfied with a simple technical solution, and to achieve the desired textural contrast, the bio-mortar was partially sanded, revealing its textural core of cork granules, whose neutral color gracefully complements the Mediterranean whiteness of the rest of the structure.
Overall, the library’s abstract shapes and muted colors invite visitors to relax and focus on the words in the texts before them.