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Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center

Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center

Project Description

The building is located on the Costa Nova dunes, between the beach and Avenue Nossa Senhora da Saúde leading to it. The sand is criss-crossed by a wide network of wooden walkways, which go over the dunes and allow pedestrians to cross from the urban cluster to the beach. To the east, the street is mainly composed of small apartment buildings, two or three storeys high. At street level there is no actual sea view, but one can sense its presence beyond the dune.

The new building, with its multifunctional profile and its symbolic and public presence, proposes to round off the neighbouring buildings and the natural site. It is intended to accommodate the new health care centre, a social centre, and a show room for exhibitions and other public events. The intervention translates an approach based on four themes: the traditional “palheiro” construction technique, the art of building over dunes, “landscape building” as part of a physical and visual route to the sea, and the agricultural land-holding structure, as a morphological matrix.

One of the main conceptual premises behind the current project is Costa Nova’s original building typology.  The project seeks to reinterpret, in a clearly contemporary way, Costa Nova’s characteristic and ancestral ways of looking at a place and building it. This is why the whole construction, made entirely of wood, as the original “palheiro”, sits on a half-buried foundation mesh in reinforced concrete, to stabilise the building that will “hover” over the dune. This conceptual strategy also aims to take advantage of building on lower ground, by creating a convenient and flowing connection to the rooftop, where one can enjoy a wide ocean view. As a counterweight, and following the natural topography, the public walkway stretches into the heart of the building, creating a new wooden public square, as a forecourt, that leads the visitor inside and provides shelter from the wind.


Costa Nova Social and Cultural Center

  • Gafanha da Encarnação
  • Portugal
Completion: 2015
Used materials
  • Wood

Type of Building

Architect Office