Square and Tourist Office, Piódão

Square and Tourist Office, Piódão
Frederico Martinho
Used as a car park for years, the project returns the space to the pedestrian as the gathering spot of the village, favoring social interaction.

Branco del Río Arquitectos
Coimbra, Portugal
Team members
Inês Bailão
João Branco
Paula del Río
Inês Massano
Marco Silva
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Research, Other
Project category
Public space
Project submitted

João Branco, Coimbra, Portugal
Paula del Río, Soria, España
Both doing PHD research, João on thermodynamic behavior in vernacular housing constructions in Portugal, Paula on new public housing in Portugal.
For both, research is always closely linked to architectural design.
The office won 2 public competitions for public housing in Portugal, now in the construction and design phase. The studio projects have been recognized along the years with several distinctions in the Fad, Enor, or BigMat Awards. They teached architectural design at ETSA Madrid and at Darq, UC Coimbra, and are often invited to lecture on their own work or on their fields of research.

The village of Piódão is located in the Serra do Açor, central Portugal. Its schist houses traversed by steep and narrow streets form of an amphitheatre on a northwest-facing escarpment.
In its lower part, the square is the only open, flat and unobstructed space and serves as the main access to the village. Over the years, it has been occupied by cars as a parking lot. The project returns the space to the pedestrian as the gathering spot of the village, favoring exchange and social interaction.
A vegetal filter (a grid of cherry trees) protects and withdraws the square from the road, preventing the passage of cars, and changing the sequence of arrival. After the first discovery of the village, in the distance, in which its landscape settlement is recognized, the trees postpone the second order of understanding of the whole: the appearance of the elevation of the village from its base.
A new pavement of the square, built in schist, reinforces the pedestrian character, and ensures universal accessibility. The formal complexity of the space, which lacks directionality, is approached with the introduction of a large central circle, at the axis of the church, which circumscribes the bust and the existing trees.
The different elements that make up the square: the church facade and the stone foundation on which it lands, the tourist office and the small houses with restaurants and cafes are arranged around this new soft centrality.
The project includes the tourist office building, located on the south side of the square. The intervention, both inside and outside, aimed at cleaning and clarifying the existing building, removing elements and additions.
The overall design approach looks for an arrangement where is difficult to grasp old and new, avoiding harming locals connection to place.
A connection between cultural and material sustainability is established, hopefully contributing to the settlement of new inhabitants in this very withdrawn interior of the country.