Marble Pavilion

Cultural Geometries , Vila Vicosa, 2016

 

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Pavilion for education and research

In the town of Vila Viçosa, Portugal, where everything from castles to kerbstones are made out of marble, this was the first non-reinforced marble structure for over a century, and the first to be exclusively built from marble waste.

Fabricated and installed in Etma a Portuguese marble factory with marble from Solubema, the pavilion’s intended use is as an educational tool for employees, local students, international architects, engineers and clients.

The pavilion gives the illusion of being paper-thin. The structure, at only 2.5cm thick and comprising of just two layers of laminated marble, springs from one curved wall before forming two sweeping catenary vaults.

The spatial experience, with views framing distant waste marble mounds is formed with an attitude to scale and sequence, curated around the simple movement from one vault to another.

Light plays off the exterior surface, contrasting the smooth interiors. The snake-skin effect on the surface showcases the full breath of the material, making the solid structure seem lighter and accentuate its appearance of being ‘paper thin’.

The architect's residency in this historic marble region of Alentejo is exploring architectural ideas for the volumes of quarried yet unused marble to find contemporary relevance to the wider community as a primary building material.

Utilising a 10cm by 10cm module for the individual marble tiles means the majority of the unused marble blocks can be efficiently cut down with little further waste.

Working with skilled local employees, alongside the factories growing fabrication capacities and ambitions, the pavilion is the first architectural scale prototype of the residency.

The potential in the thinness suggests that the material can be competitive in contemporary architecture and the use of waste makes it sustainable.

Data

  • Begun: Sep 2015
  • Completed: Jun 2016
  • Floor area: 34m2
  • Sectors: Education, Industrial, Public realm, Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £7,500
  • Funding: funded by Solubema & Etma
  • Tender date: Aug 2015
  • Procurement: n/a
  • Address: Etma, Lugar das Cabanas, Apt 27, , Vila Vicosa, 7161-909, Portugal

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