With submissions from over 52 countries, Rachel Sau’s proposal, Eu Lembro (I Remember) has been awarded honourable mention in the Cultural Building Award category of the Silk Matters' Gaudi Architecture Prize: International Design Award 2020.
Since the project site – Algarve, Portugal – has a rich history, the proposal fulfilled the requirement of designing a mirador (look-out space) whilst respecting its history. To do this, the design approach began with a question: “what if the site has a voice?”
Site: Hello. I have no name as former buildings that gave me identities are long gone. I am located in Algarve, Portugal. In the 1600s. Eu Lembro people called me Santo Ignacio Fortress. My role was to protect the Zavial harbor from imminent danger, but unfortunately the building collapsed due to an earthquake in 1755. After this a replacement, Zavial Battery and Barrack, was built. Again, my role was to defend until demolishment in 1840. Now, I am an abandoned site with few ruins remaining from the Battery and Barrack. My neighbouring sites are frequented regularly by tourists but not me. I am proud of my past and that I still protect, shielding the people at Ingrina and Zavial beaches from strong wind with my tremendous cliffs.
With this imaginative speech in mind, the project designer decided that the mirador should also act as a museum, attracting and educating visitors on the site’s history. They will learn about the wars and threats the site encountered (through remnants and information spaces) and the site’s stories and identity (through the building forms in the overall sequential experience). The exhibits and building forms together will allow visitors to learn about the site’s history from the inside and out.
The forms of the 17th C. and 18th C. buildings are influenced by the Portuguese military buildings built around same time as their former buildings. The project buildings are finished with rammed concrete panels which resemble the cliff strata, creating a strong connection between the site and new build.
The 17th C. and 18th C. buildings are located where their formal structures stood. The fragmented forms are blurry shadow of the former structures; also a visual representation of unsolved puzzle of the site’s history and identities that visitors will soon learn. They allow visitors to look out to sea as soldiers and experience the scale of the former structures.
At Time Vortex (21st C.) Entrance visitors now see the 17th C. and 18th C. buildings in their complete forms. With information on the walls, they can see, in hindsight, that each building was not merely a fragmented building but has now come together as a whole, piecing the puzzle together. It shows visitors how the site has been destroyed and adapted, yet still remained strong, acting as a protector. Its lasting identity.
Inside 21st C. underground, the weight of the cliff walls and ceiling evoke a sense of protection similar to the wind protection the cliff offers the beaches. The openness of horizon and lack of visual distraction allow one’s memories and thoughts to emerge; quiet contemplation on recent experience.