published in sb 1/2018
150 m² of glazed surfaces for optimal natural lighting, 1,300 m² of solar cells generating 750 kWh of electricity per day from and 2,000 m² of cork façade cladding: the architects of Pitagoras have aimed for high standards of technology and architecture in their design of the “Academia de Ginástica de Guimarães”.
Guimarães was Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2012 and its old town is UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. The city in the north of Portugal is now competing to become Europe’s Green Capital in 2020.
With 3,100 m² of covered area, the Gymnastic Training Centre in Guimarães is situated at the eastern end of the city park and has been built as a training and competition facility for high-performance gymnastics. The training centre comprises a pavilion, a sports hall, changing rooms, administrative offices and public spaces that grant access to the stands.
The biggest challenge in the realisation of the project was the goal of building a sports centre self-sufficient in energy with a low carbon footprint. The goal has in fact been surpassed, making the facility a model of sustainability, energy efficiency and innovation.
The training centre has been awarded a very high rating of A++ under the LiderA system – a rare award not only in Portugal but even worldwide and exclusively reserved for exceptionally sustainable buildings.
The energy required for operation is almost exclusively generated by the building itself, thanks to heat recovery and optimal alignment to the sun. All the rainwater and waste water is treated and fed into the sports centre’s water supply designed for this purpose.
The materials for the building elements were consciously chosen with ecological needs in mind in order to achieve high energy efficiency and a balanced relationship between technology and architecture. The façade clad with dark agglomerate cork is a perfect embodiment of this principle, giving the building its own architectural language while satisfying sustainability criteria.
The centre is located on a site between two existing roads via which it is accessed. On the upper level is the main road, and on the lower level a service road to the training centre. It is linked to the “Ecovia” cycle path under construction and to the Santos Simões School and adjoins the city park.
The size of the building’s corpus has been defined by its core programmatic needs and the will to integrate it into the local landscape. The facility has been successfully integrated in its surroundings and forms a new, voluminous element flanking the city park. The new pedestrian areas like the entrance plaza not only link the two building levels but also offer a unique view of the park and the city’s eastern hillside.