ARCHITECTURE & CERAMICS
Universidade do Porto
The traditional ceramic tiles [azulejos] are one of the main elements in the definition of Portuguese culture.
Thinking upon the specific nature of their influence in the city of Porto is the underlying reason for a practical architecture experience, given that Porto and some close cities were once pioneer or even unique in the history of national ceramics. The tridimensional tiles produced for the buildings' façades, or the patterned tiles that covered the outer walls of churches at the end of the 19th century, are examples of the innovative character of the northern tiles, as well as the early 20th century revivals that provided the city façades with stories painted in white and blue panels.
Despite its history, Porto lacks a place fully dedicated to the preservation and disclosure of this art, at a time in which the international interest for the city ceramics is increasing; also, at a time in which Porto renews its official image showing the traditional tiles as a symbol for the city, and in which the application is running for them to become part of UNESCO's World Heritage. Taking in the words of historical researcher Fausto Martins in the conclusion of his book Azulejaria Portuense, we wondered: «if traditional tiles are part of our identity, if they are a symbol that distinguishes us (...) what is and has been Porto's esteem to this art?».
The project that we developed aims to provide a practical answer to this question by proposing a building that gathers places for learning, work and research. The building is located among important ones, as the Municipal Library or the Fine Arts School, which allows for programmatic interchanges. Due to the high architectural quality of the surroundings, a great attention is given to the building's integration on the site.