Printer Friendly

Blood vessel: tautly wrapped around its site, this blood centre makes quiet poetry of a clinical brief.

Despite its reputation, the Oporto architectural scene can be quite insulan--notably few architects from outside the region get the chance to build in the city. Here, then, is a relatively rare phenomenon--a Lisbon-based practice, ARX Portugal, tackling a challenging type of health building on an inner-city site in Oporto. The young practice (see p50) won a competition for a new regional blood centre that serves local hospitals and pharmaceutical companies by providing blood collection, analysis and storage. Blood processing requires super hygienic conditions to avoid contamination, but regular scientific and technical advances also mean that the procedures involved can change, so the building had to have a high degree of internal flexibility.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The new building lies in a slightly scruffy district to the north of the city centre. It overlooks a former quinta or agricultural estate, now swallowed up by the city and transformed into a large public park. The site is an irregular plot with frontages on two streets, surrounded by a chaotic patchwork of neighbouring allotments, sheds, walls and gardens. Conceptually, the new building can be thought of as a folded strip running through and around the site, feeling limits and defining boundaries. Along its length it manifests alternately as a massive, rooted volume or a lightweight, floating frame. Uniquely, on the main Rua de Bolama frontage, the new building ruptures the street line, offering long views through to an internal courtyard. Some sense of continuity is maintained by a single-storey horizontal volume teeteringly supported on pilotis that peeks over the wall to the public park on the north side. Wrapped in a skin of galvanized steel (metal cladding is still a comparative rarity in Portugal), this elevated, floating volume forms a kind of framing device for the entire site and establishes a basic language of elongated volumes precisely incised by long horizontal slashes of glazing.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The main two-storey block is set at right angles to the street, forming a roughly T-shaped footprint on the site. To the east is the main service courtyard, which will be in constant use as blood supplies are ferried in and out; to the west is a long reflecting pool running parallel with the main block for more tranquil contemplation. Local granite anchors the lower floor to the ground, while the upper storey is clad in an almost reptilian skin of galvanized steel.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Responding to the sequences involved in blood analysis and processing, internal planning is highly logical and methodical. The main procedure involves blood being broken down into its three constituent parts (erythocytes, plasma and platelets), and then either stored or shipped as required. Laboratories, offices and technical spaces are double banked off a spinal corridor, book-ended by cores of circulation. Natural light is filtered through the long strips of industrial glazing that fix and frame views, but there is no fixed relationship between content and container; window mullions do not denote a particular layout and internal partitions can be easily changed and space reorganized if future alterations are required.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Though this is an essentially rational container for highly controlled scientific procedures, it does have a romantic aspect--to the rear of the site is a stone garden of granite, gravel and asphalt that offers the potential for gradual decay and invasion by plants. ARX have selected climbers with reddish purple foliage as a counterpoint to the sober grey of the building and a symbolic reminder of its literally life-giving function.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Architect

ARX Portugal, Lisbon

Structural engineer

Talprojecto

Landscape consultant

Global

Photographs

Fernando Guerra
COPYRIGHT 2004 EMAP Architecture
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Slessor, Catherine
Publication:The Architectural Review
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:608
Previous Article:Market forces: a former market is now a picturesque urban ruin.
Next Article:Graphic gestures: a skin of superscale graphics animates this remodelled shopping centre.
Topics:


Related Articles
Diet, drugs slow heart-felt 'insults.' (research on whether controlling cholesterol can regulate existing atherosclerotic lesions)
Taking skeletal muscle to heart.
Gadolinium: highlighting MRI: key to revelation?
PROGEN'S FIRST U.S. CLINICAL TRIAL WITH PI-88 BEGINS.
THROMBOVIEW TRIAL SUCCESS IMPORTANT STEP TO COMMERCIALIZATION.
ARX Portugal: blood bank, Coimbra, Spain.
Images from Hell.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters