United Nations University at Guimarães / Pitagoras Group
Text description provided by the architects. The project concerns the renovation of a former industrial building for the installation of UNU, United Nations University, and AMA, Agency for Administrative Modernization. The location of the building in the district of Couros, adjacent to the fortified core of the historic center of Guimarães, suffered a certain segregation from the remaining urban fabric which was accentuated at the end of the 19th century with the construction of new avenues in its limit and, in the middle of the XXth century with the works of “urban hygiene” and the construction of a new boulevard which joins the center on the place of Toural.
These urban events and the successive disappearance of the leather processing industries left industrial complexes abandoned or reused for other purposes or new industries. The image of this district is built from these abandoned or transformed buildings, but also from memories, sometimes imaginary and subjective, that the inhabitants of the city have developed from the fragments that have arrived until today. In particular, this group of factory buildings, where this project fits, with a different character, arranged around a patio, is the testimony of the successive events that have shaped the Couros district as we know it today.
The building is developed in an “L” plan, with wide spaces, subdivided by poor constructive elements and without architectural value which have been demolished. However, the traditional framework, in trusses and wooden beams, has been completely rehabilitated and rebuilt. Recognizing and valuing the original architectural elements, it has been adopted a solution in the interior volumes, with a distinct and independent reading, where all the workspaces are placed.
The independent character is reinforced by the separation of the roofs between the circulation spaces and the volumes, highlighting two distinct realities: in the circulation spaces a broad reading of the pre-existing space where we can see the structure of the roof. ‘origin, and in the interior volumes, a false ceiling which conforms and guarantees comfort to the workspaces. Access to the building is at the center of the longest section of the complex. In the courtyard located between this UNU building and the Higher Education Center, the existing floor was maintained, in granite slabs, correcting the existing irregularities.