How is space experienced at different speeds?

Location
Porto, Portugal

Status
Competition

Typology
Public, Commercial

Year
2014

What makes a space, place? We think of the city centre as place due to its concentration of history, social interaction and visual experiences, yet the area surrounding the city often becomes neglected as space. Absent of the necessary connotations to make them remarkable, these spaces often become nothing more than a banal landscape one has to travel through in order to reach another place.

Our design for the service station on the outskirts of Porto questions the way in which we currently experience the unknown spaces of the city. Often seen as unspectacular, we propose an intervention that addresses the speed in which spaces are interpreted.

The building lies along a linear, diagonal axis, connecting two intersections in the surrounding while dividing the site into three distinctive spaces. An esplanade, running parallel to Line C of the Porto Metro, is faced with pedestrian accessible programmes such as restaurants, shops and other facilities. An intermediate space becomes a public square, where public performances converge outside an artist studio and exhibition galleries. Finally, a large landscape opens onto the nearby roundabout, where its relationship with the media screen means it could be interpreted as an outdoor cinema or spectator stand for football matches.

A plant nursery overhangs about these spaces, freeing the ground plane into three distinct bands while acting as a unifying element to the design. The entire design pivots around the disused chimney from the previous history of the site, a visual and historical anchor to the space.