Role: Lead architect at EDP
Function: Observation and Control Building
Location: Pampilhosa da Serra, Portugal
Developer: EDP Energias de Portugal
EDP project team: Pedro Geraldes (architecture), Diogo Santiago (architecture), João Gomes Cunha (coordination; structures), Artur Andrade (structures), Pedro Vieira Soares (electric eng.), Miguel Roque (mechanical eng.), Adriano Soares (hydraulics). Tiago Ferreira (safety)
Contractor: Calado & Duarte
The scope of this project consisted in the conception of an industrial facility for EDP, a global energy company, to act as a base for the observation and control of a dam in case of emergency.
Located in Pampilhosa da Serra, in Portugal’s midlands, this area is defined by a beautiful concrete arch dam, 76m tall and 115m long, a wide water reservoir and majestic quartzite formations that merge with the dam.
Taking into account the enormous constraints existing for the implantation of this building - very uneven topography, reduced area available with good visibility for the water discharge structures, interference with geodesic landmarks - the option for the implantation of the building fell on an area located above the access road. This area is at the end of a route and has privileged views of the dam and the water reservoir.
The option for locating the POC in a semi-buried position was intended to ensure adequate landscape integration of the new construction, with the intervention being underhanded, located under the ground and aligned with a granite wall. From the lower level, the volume is perceptible through a large horizontal opening, which guarantees good visibility of the interior spaces towards the dam.
The access to the interior of the building is made through long stairs that connect to the lane in which the vehicles can park. This leads to a patio, which serves as an antechamber for accessing the building.
With an interior area of approximately 35m², the POC is divided into 3 spaces: entrance, sanitary facility, observation and control room.
The sensitivity of the landscape in which the building was inserted, as well as the strict requirements defined by the regional authorities (DRCC) for the landscape framework of the intervention, and the limited accessibility to the site, powered the construction to be carried out in a conventional system, but with the introduction of a green roof.
The assumption of fitting the volumetry into the existing landscape, without drawing attention to itself, led to the adoption of exterior walls in half-peak bush-hammered concrete, a material that reveals the aggregate that composes it. The granite wall that existed on the site was thus replaced by an identic rough texture, which aimed to mimic and relate the building with the surrounding imposing quartzitic ridges.
Zaha Hadid said once that “What's nice about concrete is that it looks unfinished.” But even more than looking unfinished, it’s a material that ages absorbing the surrounding atmosphere, changing/ enhancing the building over the time.
Other exterior coating materials/ systems were defined, with environmental concerns:
- green roof, in the continuity of the surrounding land, allowing the organic growth of vegetation on it and the consequent positive effects that these have for the environment;
- corten steel for the exterior cabinet that shelters the heat pump and highlights, from the outside, the importance of the patio as the main entrance;
- steel on the stairs and ramp, 100% recyclable material and extremely durable;
- gravel in the yard, 100% reusable and allowing rainwater to seep into the ground.
Photos: Paulo Alexandre Coelho
Construction and design process
sketches voluntarily coloured by my older daughter
(2 years old, at that time)