The forward-thinking design of the Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso literally and figuratively breaks new ground in its northern Portuguese town of Boticas. The new 20,000 square foot sustainable museum will display 80 works created by the renowned living Portuguese artist, Nadir Afonso, who early in his career practiced architecture with Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer. Integrally intertwined with the urban development of Boticas, the museum is sited to create a cultural extension of this medieval hill town for it is strategically located both down the street from the new City Hall as well as at the intersection of newly built national highways funded by the European Union. By exposing the art of Nadir Afonso to a much larger audience as well as serving as a cultural and economic engine for the local economy and surrounding region, the new museum is poised to become a global destination.
Merging landscape and architecture, the new sustainable building is divided into two distinct but connected parts, an urbane cultural structure facing the newly built municipal building and a green-roofed park covered below-grade exhibition hall facing the rolling hills adjacent to Boticas. The urban face of the building consists of an above grade double height entry hall with a second story balcony providing entrance to a 100 seat indoor auditorium and an informal exterior auditorium that together with a multipurpose space, gift shop, and office contribute to the civic stature of this growing Portuguese town. The below grade exhibition space, carved out of the natural granite ledge hillside and covered with a sustainable planted green roof park, functions as a connection to the more pastoral section of the town. To reduce the carbon footprint, the excavated granite will also function as perimeter retaining walls for the outdoor sculpture adjacent to the exhibition space. Since the interior exhibition walls are considerably shorter than the exterior walls of the building, museum guests will always have a long layered view beyond the art to the outdoor granite walls beyond, creating a unique feeling of viewing art within a lavish grotto. The design of the Centro de Artes Nadir Afonso reveals a unique atmosphere that celebrates both the efficiency as well as the pleasure of sustainability.