Thursday, April 19, 2012

Open working day presentation

We have had our first open working day and would like to share our presentation here on the blog. The goal for theese first two weeks was to get an overview of the history and social conditions of the building, the condition of the structure and damages, the spatial characteristics and to comment on possible programs.

The presentation you can find here, but we will also try to explain briefly our results and present our programatic discussion.If you have any comments or suggestions, let us know. We would appreciate your opinion.

Historic review

The historic information we have about the building is very limited. We know that the plot and street is old, but have no information about the current building structure from before the 1980's. We know that this building has housed a salt storage, a primary school, offices and a rowing club. We have a few drawings from the 80's, but they are very scarce.

Structural survey

We have tried to give a status report on the structure of the building. How is it made, and what is the current condition of the structure and materials.

The building has a traditional construction with loadbearing partitioning walls in stone and wooden floors and roof structure. The wooden parts are the most damaged and critical. condition varies from elements we have to replace to elements that just need new finishing.

Tests were made together with the engineers at NCREP, using the amongst others the resistograph and the hygrometer. We will finish this survey when the building is secured so we can also enter the basement and the roof.

Spatial survey

Our building is situated in a narrow street with limited light on ground level. The building has a rather simple footprint, 13 meters long and 5,5 meters wide, and today the stairs run along the partitioning wall. Our biggest challenge will be the daylight conditions. As the building has only one facade the light is poor in the inner parts of the house, but skylights provides the second floor with much better conditions.  

Programatic discussion

We still don’t have final decisions about the programmatic solutions, but we have some opinions and attitudes, and we would like to share it with you with a hope that you will get into the discussion. Feedback from you would be very helpful.

One thing that seems to be quite definitive at least at this stage of the project, is that the program is going to be divided by levels:
- ground floor + basement will have some programs for the community (whatever it means at this moment )
- 1st and 2nd floor - housing


Regarding the housing, if we consider the city context and the dimensions of the historic buildings in that area, both of the upper floors have enough space to be independent living units – 63 square meters first, and 70 square meters second floor.

The main challenge for us will be to design a lightening solution for the apartments. We are already discussing about possible solutions like: adding a new floor or making a hole that can conduct light from roof to the 1st floor…

Why housing?
Because the spirit of Arrebita is about SOCIAL problems, about the people, about domestic people, about bringing them back here, in the hearth of the city where they belong… We are creating the ALTERNATIVE solution! For instance, the theme of tourism is very important for income of a city, but strategies already exist in that sphere. And we want to make something different, even if right now this project is not a solution for the entire problem.

People make a city; the city is people, not a museum where someone can just walk around and take a nice photos. A life is happening there, something realistic, and it should be the thing that Porto will be most proud of. Of its people.We want to bring people back, even if it means that maybe only two families or two young couples can be happy at the first moment. They will be, as we said, the example, but also the injection and the beginning of a great impulse that will spread…

Ground floor and basement:

Basement can be used as storage of a ground floor user, or can be divided between this user and the people who live on the upper floors.The lightening problem in the ground floor is not as big as on the 1st floor because of the different functions of these two spaces. This is not a space for living and it doesn’t necessary require natural light, so the electrical lightening systems can also be used…

Program in the ground floor…? Maybe it is something completely simple and supremely practical like a bakery, a pharmacy, or any kind of store that is supposed to be used every day from the people who live in that area… Or a few different activities that can work together… Maybe it will be the future Arrebita office like a proof and a motive for the neighborhood that something is really happening and changing, that somebody is now here, that the area they live in is not on the margin, that people actually want to come…Maybe even that youth has come, because youth is the future...

Conclusion and attitudes:

Our goal will be to design a building that is as adaptive, universal and flexible as possible!

We still don’t know who will use it, and that’s why our solution has to offer different ways of using it. For example, our primary goal will be to have a two separated living units on 1st and 2nd floor, but also, we will consider a possibility of a potential user who would like to merge these two floors into one apartment.

This project must not be observed as an example with unique problems and needs, like it is cut from time, spatial and social context. It should help us to found new principals of refurbishment. It has to be a good example, prototype and a model for all of the future projects...

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