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Health Center

Avelino Oliveira

Health Center
By Redazione The Plan -

Located southwest of the Portuguese city of Braga, Celeirós is a former rural town once famous for its cereals market. Today it is a somewhat haphazard, unregulated urban sprawl where residential and industrial buildings of differing types and proportions sit side by side. Once the banks of the Rio Este was the town’s natural boundary. Today it is hemmed in by a series of recently built high-speed arterial roads. It was in this unprepossessing setting that Avelino Oliveira of the Oval architecture practice won a public competition to build a new public health centre serving a catchment basin of 12,000 people. The designated plot is on a level piece of land bounded by a highway, the river and a park. Pedestrian and motor vehicle access is, however, good from all sides. Oliveira’s design is simplicity itself, both in terms of ground plan and distribution circuits: a right-angled grid conceived to allow maximum flexibility and subsequent adaptability of use as new technologies and requirements may demand. Inside, separate areas group the various functions. One zone contains the reception, customer service, waiting rooms and public toilets, a second zone is occupied by offices and doctors’ surgeries while a third houses the staff locker rooms, storage, IT section and garage. Simplicity of interior volume distribution is contrasted by the highly articulated façade: a series of asymmetrically tilted masonry elements alternating with glazed strips to create an interesting play of light and shade and intriguing perspectives. Recessed foundation work gives the impression that the building is hovering just above the ground, an effect that highlights the geometry of the volume. When opened, sliding in-wall glazing further accentuates the play of solids and voids, projections and recesses. While the façade panels deliberately recall the industrial architecture all around, they obey an internal logic that gives the building an inherent cohesion and scale. As a result, it...

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