Madan Parque Building
The issue of arqa #80/81 concerns the theme of «Creative Markets». We are witnessing in architecture a blurring of the types of commission and client, regarding the generalized contraction of public promotion and the explosion of the private initiative. Architects cannot escape the new challenges of this privatization of societies, designing luxury condominiums in historic centres, modernizing suburban leisure housing complexes, relaxing tourist resorts, glamorous signature hotels, distinct private schools and hospitals, astonishing label museums, iconic corporate buildings, large office compounds, monumental shopping centres, sensitive elite shops, captivating productive and distributive infra-structures, etc. It becomes symptomatic the appropriation by the private domain of the traditional institutional and representative role of the public domain, that some defined as the "culturalization of commodity", i.e., the other side of the "commodification of culture".
In this general context, the new building for Madan Parque by Equipo4d, an office led by the Portuguese Samuel Torres de Carvalho and the Spanish Pedro Palmero Cabezas, raises some interesting questions, presenting itself as a response to the generic office building. The Madan Parque project explores a program, based on a configuration model of a workspace that suits our the era of technological innovation and development. It is no coincidence that the building tries to link the two usually separate fields of the academy and the market, locating itself in the vicinities of the Science and Technology Faculty of Lisbon's Universidade Nova. The idea is to connect knowledge with society, research with the market.
In fact, this cluster of cutting-edge enterprises would have to respond not only to increasing dynamic and spatial flexibility of multiple companies that could occupy the spaces either permanently or temporarily, but also to be able to set up a collective identity openly affirmative and creative. How to create a simultaneous generic and specific architectural complex? Generic because undetermined regarding the specific occupation. Specific because it is not submitted to an idea of generic business. Winner of an invitation tender widely disputed, the project proposed by Equipo4d reflects an undisputed clarity and consistency. On a plot with accentuated topography, the iconic building gives identity to a peripheral area still very imprecise and vague. Strongly marking the territorial landscape, the building focuses on flexibility and adaptability as forward-looking strategies to confront both the lack of definition of the physical context and the lack of determination of project's program.
The architectural solution found at this level is sufficiently explicit. Firstly, the project focuses on programmatic definition of a public crossing axis structuring of the building. While the two symmetric public access entrances, carried out in different floors in order to respond to the topography, enable multiple relations with the surrounding context, on the other hand, setting this crossing movement by the interior of the building determines the location of the main areas of the program. Secondly, the project proposes, through excavation of different courtyards, both in the terrain and the building, a simultaneously individualized and shared concept design of the different workspaces. If, on the one hand, there are no two equivalent rooms in terms of orientation, disposition, area and proportion, on the other, the working areas provide discreet crossing views with other rooms and the outside environment. In short, these affirmative project options present themselves as specific forms to resolve by anticipation an essentially generic program and reality. Therefore, they imply a positive answer to the openness of future occupancy of the building and the inevitable future transformation of the context.
This symbiosis between generic and specific also manifests itself in the material configuration of the Madan Parque building. Despite the unity of materials and construction processes, there is a formal complexity introduced by the volumetric subtraction of the courtyards, as well as the different materials of the facades, that confer a compositional and scale diversity to the building. In this sense, the generic materiality becomes specific. At this level a particular detail acquires a particular significance. Actually, the courtyards cut in the white blind mass, feature a green painting in the fenestration structure, which is reinforced by the glazing reflections of the surrounding natural environment. If, at distance, these green voids seem generally uniform, just as we approach the building we realized its specific character. As the reflexes vary over time and the seasons, the green paint reveals at close distance a subtly differentiated palette, which mimics the chromatic diversity found in the surrounding green nature.
Luís Santiago Baptista
Luís Santiago Baptista