Portuguese Venue Pairs Sophisticated Sports Centre with Top Contemporary Design

Valdemar Coutinho, an architectural firm based in the north of Portugal, is known for its refined and minimalist modern designs, having worked extensively on residential property design as well as larger urban building projects. For its latest project, the firm was tasked with delivering a sports pavilion for the urban area of Viana do Castelo which was to be called The Atlantic Pavilion.

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Valdemar Coutinho Architect’s The Atlantic Pavilion is a brutalist masterpiece. The striking exterior, a solid mass of concrete, overhangs the building’s entrance. The trapezium-shaped sports hall dwarfs the entrance.

We spoke to the lead architect, Valdemar Coutinho, about his design.

THE PLUS: What was the biggest challenge you faced with the Pavilhao do Atlantico?
Valdemar Coutinho: Several challenges emerged throughout the process. One of the first challenges was to develop a sports pavilion with a restricted budget, pre-established by the City Hall. In the development of the process, I felt that the terrain was a bit low in relation to the intended program. This especially applied to the regulatory distances necessary for the implementation of the playground. Thus, the bench needed to balanced out. Step by step the process took shape, taking the project in the direction of a formally more dynamic language.


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TP: The entrance is very striking – how did you approach the design? 
VC: I wanted the Sports Pavilion to have an appealing image from the avenue it is placed next to. In the avenue of the Atlantic we have a series of buildings. Apparently, some of these are constructed with their back turned to the avenue. That’s why the necessity arises to create a form for the pavilion to have presence and that dignified the existing urban front.

TP: What does it feel like to be inside Pavilhao do Atlantico?
VC: It is a timeless architecture. The Atlantic Pavilion is a revival of the brutalist movement combined with reality and current knowledge.


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TP: What’s your opinion on the use of brutalism in contemporary architecture?
VC: The brutalism that emerged at the end of World War II was a modern movement that used cheap materials such as concrete and wood. It is an imposing and large architecture that was at one point often criticized for the fact that Brutalist architecture was little worked in terms of aesthetics.

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TP: How does this influence your project?
VC: The option of a brutalist language in my project comes from the need to have a functional architecture, practiced with more economical materials. It contradicts with the current needs, but essentially allows a very practical and low-cost maintenance of the building in the future.

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