Location: Ilhavo, Portugal.

Architect: ARX Portugal Arquitectos.

The codfish aquarium is a unique building that connects three different units: the Maritime Museum, the Aquarium, and the research center for marine activities. The building is designed to be both an autonomous urban equipment and a building-path that spirals around a tank, connecting the Museum to the old school. The building is shaped by the interstices of the urban domestic fabric and establishes a new public domain. The building is made up of two horizontally overlapping bodies, a white concrete body that emerges from the ground and sets the basis for defining a square, and a floating black body of metal scales that sets the height of the square. The visitor’s path is a spiraling ramp that begins in suspension over the tank and turns into a diving mode of gradual discovery, an experience of immersion in the cod habitat. The informal auditorium, with extensive visibility into the aquarium, marks a pause in the visit for contemplation and information about the life of this species. All technical components of control are placed in the basement, guaranteeing a subliminal operation of all the life support systems, the quality of the seawater, the control of air temperature, and even the new reserves of the Maritime Museum.

Photo credit: FG + SG – Fotografia de Arquitectura.