In the stunningly sunny city centre of Ponte de Sor in Portugal a wonderfully contemporary building that’s modern in both its aesthetic and functionality was recently completed by Nuno Piedade Alexandre to serve as the brand new Elderly Care Centre.
When the proposal was originally put forth, the challenge was to create a building that will present something new but also blend well and have a good connection with the wider complex in which it sits. Inside, the goal was to provide as many bedrooms as possible without sacrificing too much space or getting in the way of the patients wellbeing as top priority.
The finished building features 10 double rooms and four individual rooms, each one fully equipped with en suite bathroom facilities for ease and privacy. Designers aimed to make the bedrooms and all patient spaces as spacious as possible without wasting any space, because space efficiency was also high on the list of priorities as well.
By fitting the rooms comfortably and sensibly into a building that’s perfectly tailored for the available space near the residence’s main building (this particular part of the Centre is a contemporary extension), designers aimed to provide an experience within that space that’s user focused. By this, we mean that the person themselves and what they need becomes to whole purpose of the room.
This is achieved in part through dematerialization. Of course, we don’t mean that no creature comforts are provided! Rather, a calming and serene sort of minimalism is the style followed throughout the rooms. At the same time, decorative elements are not foregone. This is evident even in the building’s impressive exterior.
You see, the facade of the Centre is distorted and made to look geometric and interesting thanks to the way the rooms are allowed every so slightly to extent past the boundaries of the walls where the windows are located. The overall effect from the outside is almost sculptural, rendering the new Centre a sort of landmark in the town thanks to its eye catching nature.
As part of its indoor minimalism, the rooms inside the building are purposely positioned to capture as much of the lovely outdoor view beyond them as possible. This is something the large windows and their angled protrusions helps with as well. The goal here was to bring vast amounts of sunny, natural daylight into each room for when patients aren’t able to actually go out and experience it beyond their beds on a given day.
These same windows are really the key to the designers’ goals of facilitating communication between the building and its surrounding space and landscape. It might sit closer to the other buildings its patients need access to, making it a functional urban setting, but it also provides wonderfully framed views of the sprawling trees in its yard so no one resting in its beds has to struggle to enjoy nature.
Photos by João Morgado