Laura Alvarez

Europan 13 . FOODlab . Santo Tirso

Laura Alvarez . Europan 13 . FOODlab . Santo Tirso (1)

Laura Alvarez Architecture

Santo Tirso is a great example for integration of landscape and architecture. The regeneration of Ave riversides is a good prove of this. Built and unbuilt form in this area a harmonious amalgam, a beautiful green and cultural city belt.
The city centre needs still a push further to achive this balance. Potentially it also has good ingredients. But the urban tissue is very disconnected.

Urban Strategy
Europan strategic site is situated in the city centre of Santo Tirso. This area lacks continuity due to many reasons. One one hand, the market square is most of the times used a a giant parking plot and only sporadically used for public activities. On the other hand, there is no continuity from south east (Plaça 25 de abril) to north west of the city (until River Sanguinhedo). Furthermore there are some large vacant plots close to this axis to even make stronger the discontinuity.
So the first action is to create continuity. First, we need to reinforce the SE-NW axis by acting in the market square and also by creating new housing area in the vacant plot along this new axis. The new axis will continue until the river and there will be connected to the green belt surrounding the city.
The market square should be a catalyst for the regeneration of the city centre. It should connect, gather and move people.
The first impression we got when visiting the site was the difficult scale that the market square has. It is too large to be just a square, and at the same time, it would be a pity to densify this part and reduce its size.
We decided to reduce its scale by creating a multifunctional square with some covered areas. The pergolas create a sense of enclosure and they could also be used for different activities.
The new square is a continuous space. It absorbes the high difference between Av. De Sousa Cruz and R. Luis de Cameos. It links the surrounding streets with fluent connections. It is a place to rest, play, stay and enjoy.
It functions as a multipurpose square with a large paved area, big enough to host the weekly fair and some new events such us concerts, arts and crafts fair, food fair, etc.
The new square creates a strong link with the existing market. And therefore the market needs a new impulse. It needs new functions to support the new centrality created by the square.
We propose to create a FOOD lab. A combination of a traditional market with uses related to food.
A food court, restaurant, culinary school and artist-in- residence will complete the program of the new food centre.
Students from the culinary school can buy fresh vegetables, meat and fish just one floor below, people who comes to buy the daily grocery, can enjoy and taste some food in the Food Court and people who come to the restaurant can enjoy of a great view towards the park from the terrace.
A couple of artist in residence units complete this new program.

In the current situation, the market square does not function as a square but as a big parking lot. The existing market and the beautiful existing trees are therefore on a second plane.
We do believe that big superficial parking areas are not compatible with an idea of the city that wants to reinforce the use of bicycle and pedestrian paths. Parking areas segregate the urban flow and therefore should not be located above ground in city centers. We propose to remove all these parking lots and reduce it to the perimeter as regular streets do. We think an underground parking should be proposed in case needed.
The existing trees and the movements of pedestrians define the morphology of the new square.
The paths are continuous and solve the difference in heights of the plot.
A large paved area is left around the market in order to host activities. The pergolas surrounding this central paved area create a sense of enclosure and yet enhance the continuity of the space.
We would like to attract more events towards the new square. The versatile new space offers shelter, spatiality, gather and nature. It can be used in multiple ways.
For example, an arts and crafts fair could be located under the pergolas, a summer open air cinema in front of the market. A food fair could be a great event to connect inside and outside…
The new FOOD lab
Food represents a big cultural heritage for Portugal. Food is not only needed but also a link to traditions. We as human beings are continuously confronting our selves with tradition and modernity and we do not always find a way for both to coexist.
A good example of this we can see in the degradation of Santo Tirso market. We have changed the way we buy, the way we eat. Therefore a traditional market does not work nowadays. In needs to be related to the way we operate nowadays. It should offer more activities, longer opening hours, diversity and the new functions should support each other.
We propose a food lab, a new place where food stays central. A place to eat, to buy, to learn, to sleep. And all this new experiences in relation to food.

FOODlab Santo Tirso
Client: Municipality of Santo Tirso, Portugal
Program: New public square and conversion of exisiting market hall into a FOOD lab containing a market, food court area, cooking school and “cooks in residence” units
Year: 2015
Status: Competition, FIRST PRIZE, ongoing