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The Platform of Arts and Creativity


June 2012 saw the inauguration of a striking architecture and urban regeneration project in the historic northern Portuguese city of Guimarães, this year’s European Capital of Culture. The complex is a multi-purpose arts centre designed to encourage artistic creativity and entrepreneurship in the arts industry. It also provides a permanent showcase for the collection of artist José de Guimarães that includes works from Latina America, Africa and Asia, as well as facilities for temporary shows. The multi-level architecture programme was driven by the need to revitalise a degraded urban area adjacent to the historic town centre and bring cultural activities with the physical upgrade. The cultural programme envisaged by the local authorities was deliberately multifaceted. A sizeable urban swathe, a former market and nearby constructions from the Thirties, was targeted for regeneration with the creation of new spaces for cultural activities and a new open square, a central socializing community space. The east wing of the old complex was renovated, its modular construction on two levels exploited to make way for offices, meeting rooms and artists’ workshops. The north wing was entirely redesigned and rebuilt. The southern edge of the square is the contemporary architecture side. The various buildings and court of the old market were incorporated into the new Platform of Arts and Creativity. The new square is a central hub designed to host outdoor events. Sparingly furnished with benches, and enclosed by the sequence of protruding and receding rectangular shapes of the new complex, this cement-paved area is a new take on the traditional community square. Rising on the southern edge of the square, the new complex has a four-level programme - two above and two below ground, the latter for parking, storage and the main foyer. The different levels are clearly visible from the west side where the terrain slopes steeply. On this same side, a small, split-shaped reflective...

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