ALCOCHETE MUNICIPAL LIBRARY (2000)
Alcochete is an ancient village wonderfully located on the left bank of the Tejo estuary, the largest in Western Europe, and was the most important centre of salt production in the country for many centuries. The Vasco da Gama Bridge, linking Lisbon to Montijo since 1998, has led to a very rapid explosion of construction throughout the county. The tender, by invitation only, required the library to be on a wasteland area within walking distance of the town centre, confined on one side by recent collective housing and, on the other, by the back lots of private houses.
The library reading spaces are arranged in a single room characterized by the double-height lobby. This room is confined between two exterior walls with very different shapes: one is a straight wall facing the street, allowing a glimpse of it; the other is curved with a view to the river, across the trees of the proposed public garden.
This project could not have been thought in this form without the lesson and example of the libraries designed by Alvar Aalto. However, unlike most of them, taking advantage of the high elevation of the terrain, the reading room is generously open to outer space and landscape, letting the users of this public building raise their eyes from the books they read, and look at the street and the view outside.
Architecture: José Neves
Collaborators: Rui Sousa Pinto, Rita Dourado.