The forward-thinking design of the Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso literally and figuratively breaks new ground in its northern Portuguese town of Boticas. The new 20,000-square-foot sustainable museum will display 80 works created by the renowned living Portuguese artist, Nadir Afonso, who early in his career practiced architecture with Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer.
Integrally intertwined with the urban development of Boticas, the museum is sited to create a cultural extension of this medieval hill town, for it is strategically located both down the street from the new City Hall as well as at the intersection of newly built national highways funded by the European Union. By exposing the art of Nadir Afonso to a much larger audience, as well as serving as a cultural and economic engine for the local economy and surrounding region, the new museum is poised to become a global destination.
Merging landscape and architecture, the new sustainable building is divided into two distinct but connected parts. The urbane cultural structure across the street from the newly built municipal building speaks to the future of Boticas, while a green-roofed park covered, below-grade, exhibition hall facing the adjacent rolling hills connects to its pastoral legacy. The urban face of the building consists of an above-grade double-height entry hall with a second story balcony providing entrance to a 100 seat indoor auditorium, and an informal exterior auditorium that together with a multipurpose space, gift shop, and administrative space contribute to the civic stature of this growing Portuguese town.
The below-grade exhibition space and surrounding outdoor sculpture court are carved out of the natural hillside. In order to reduce the carbon footprint, the earth is retained by a cyclopean wall composed of recycled stone reclaimed from the site excavation. Since the interior exhibition walls are considerably shorter than the exterior walls of the building, museum guests will always have a long layered view of the art to the outdoor vine-covered cyclopean walls, creating a unique feeling of viewing art within a lavish grotto.
The design of the Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso reveals a unique atmosphere that celebrates both the efficiency as well as the pleasure of sustainability.