Portuguese architects Alvaro Siza Vieira and Eduardo Souto de Moura have collaborated in the realization of the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture (MIEC) and the rehabilitation of the Abade Pedrosa municipal museum (MMAP) located in the city of Santo Tirso, Portugal.
The commission requested the construction of a building to house both the MIEC and the MMAP. Although they serve as different entities, a connection has been established between the two buildings and a shared entrance to allow the architecture to be independent in form and language.
The design of the MIEC took into account its historical site: the monastery of São Bento. The monastery influenced the facilities of the new museum, with the result of seeing the volumes that rise only at the height of the monastery’s cornice so as not to disturb the original architecture. Meanwhile, the character of the volumetric proposal was the result of the intention to define square access to the new and also to the old museum (MMAP).
The height of the MIEC + MMAP project comes to be defined by the cornice of the monastery as its maximum level so as not to disturb the historic building.
The shop, cafe and administration are located on the main floor, in the basement are the multipurpose exhibition spaces along with educational facilities.
In terms of construction and material, the interior is marked with concrete walls lined with high density gypsum boards. On the outside, reinforced white plaster has been used which fits the environment; the granite panels used at the base of the museum are also visible in existing buildings.
The MMAP is located inside the old guest house of the building that integrates the patrimonial complex called monastery of São Bento.
Outwardly, the space is defined by granite masonry walls plastered with painted white mortar clay, following with the continuous use of granite seen in structural elements of the building, frameworks, pillars, etc.
The building has two floors, with only the level of the main street belonging to the museum. The plant is rectangular and develops longitudinally, organized to the west by a corridor that occupies the entire length of the building and to the east by rooms of different sizes with specific links between them.
Finally and as a synthesis, the main objective of the architects with this project has been to access both museums through a common entrance through the new building.
Photography: João Morgado