Location: Castelo Branco, Portugal.

Architect: Mateo Arquitectura.

The project of the Cultural Center in Castelo Branco was inspired by the remodelling of Praça Largo da Devesa, a large public space. It presented the challenge of addressing the complexity of the public space and the traffic and urban problems of the historic center of Castelo Branco. The plaza, designed in the first phase (2007), is moulded to the site to deal with the initial topographic problems and accommodate the various buildings designed to go there. The ice rink at the base of the building is a playful relationship with the climate and the plaza. The Castelo Branco Cultural Center, built in phase two, floats on two piles over the plaza, freeing up at its base a covered ice-skating rink.

It is a bubble of activity, a roof and a floor that floats above the site, relating the urban sequence, the plaza and the park. Inside the building, the ground floor is just a transition space, connecting with the floors above, but on the outside, it is the manifestation of the connection between the plaza and the Cultural Center, housing an ice rink that extends from one side of the building to the other and interacts directly with its setting. Skylights exploit this opening at ground level to allow light into the basement floor, creating an ambience that is light and welcoming. The Cultural Center in Castelo Branco, Portugal was designed by Josep Llus Mateo and Carlos Reis Figueiredo. It has a double-height exhibition hall, auditorium, dressing rooms, control room, bar, and multipurpose space.

Photo credit: Adrià Goula.