CYNTHIA BELL ARCHITECTURE
Visitor Center, Portugal
Schematic design for a Visitor Center located near the megalithic monument Cromeleque dos Almendres (stone circle) in the region of Évora, Portugal.
Ispired by its neolithic site, the design of the Visitor Center references earth and sky. The building sits on the cardinal axis and maximizes its roof area to harvest solar energy. A mass/void approach to the program elements evokes a sense of being carved from a block of stone, and sets this in contrast to the use of stone in the monument. The open
layout of the void allows for a unique flexibility of interaction between exhibit,educational programs, and social space (cafe/wine bar).
The glass enclosure strengthens the connection to the physical environment and quality of daylight, while floating a reflective, undulating ceiling of light and movement. With efficient hydronic heating and cooling in the floor, the ceiling, covered in metal panels that integrate varying degrees of reflectivity, is free to become an artistic expression of the significance of the celestial world in neolithic times. Reflection (both physical and mental) of the landscape, exhibit, and occupants themselves, is integral to the experience of knowledge and mystery inherent in the existence of the Cromeleque dos Almendres.