Carnival is celebrated in Portugal since the 13th century, occupying a central position in the collective imaginary of Torres Vedras.
The project for the Carnival Arts Centre (CAC) materializes this collective reference, transforming a ruined slaughterhouse and a disabled quarry, while offering a plaza to a marginalized neighbourhood in order to establish a new civic and urban vitality.
This neighborhood, located on S. Vicente Hill, had grown around the quarry and the slaughterhouse until they both closed down and became a decaying fragment on the edge of the city. However, the remains of the slaughterhouse preserved its iconographic value, which reflected the identity of the place, and the quarry, once taken as pasture for the slaughterhouse livestock, resulted as a platform embraced by an escarpment, whose size, shape and materiality gave a dreamlike feeling to the site.
The old slaughterhouse was rehabilitated to serve as CAC main entrance, containing exhibition rooms and the shop, directly related to the street. The traces of a courtyard that existed in its core, for the animals' blood ventilation and drainage, were transformed in order to become a circular staircase that, combined with a large skylight, is the starting point to the exhibition route and the structural support of the of the main exhibition container where a large window frames the view of the crater and the informal cityscape.
The old platform is now a urban plaza whose form is a result of the geometry suggested by the shape of the crater, thus qualified by the mass of the escarpment in continuity with the elliptical surface of the new body that contains the sky lit visitable deposits, and animated by the presence of the cafeteria and the museum workshops, widely opening into a covered outdoor gallery.
Above all, it is expected that CAC will have a place-making capacity as house and urban-theater for the celebration of Carnival, as well as stage for the daily practices of citizens, so this neighbourhood will become again part of space and time of the city.