João Mendes Ribeiro

Paço dos Condes . Ourém

João Mendes Ribeiro . photos: © José Campos

In the Paço dos Condes de Ourém, the intervention was based on conservation works that involved the repair of deteriorated materials and elements, as well as the introduction of construction systems in accordance with the reconstruction and restoration carried out by the General Directorate of Buildings and Monuments Nationals (DGEMN) between 1936 and 1947.

Based on the evidence of the existence of two levels above the entrance floor and three levels above the basement to the west, it was proposed to place a new floor, in chestnut wood flooring, at the level of floor 0, where there were irregularities in the floor, and part of floor 1 (to the east), in the stone partitions.

In the case of the raised floors, it was proposed to reuse the stone corbels, as well as the negatives of the walls, to support wooden beams and beams. The conservation and restoration procedures of the existing facades were carried out in order to solve the existing alteration and degradation phenomena, through the use of materials that are chemically compatible with the original ones. In this way, the reversibility of materials and techniques was guaranteed, ensuring its physical integrity and restoring the homogeneity and characteristics inherent to its design and construction, thus guaranteeing its safeguard for the future.

The rest of the interventions consisted of closing the openings with brass frames and simple glass, replacing the roof of the Paço building and introducing new technical infrastructures. The aim was to hide the frame, accentuate the reading of the openings as “holes” and highlight the plastic qualities of the ruin, in this sense, a slender profile was used, hidden from the outside.

The entrance opening to the Paço building, whose stone frame was irregular, was recovered with the introduction of a new stone threshold, a brass railing landing and a wooden door in the old riga pine. A brass windshield was also added.

The new roof of the Palace consists of a stapled zinc joint, including insulation and waterproofing, placed on the chestnut wood roof and on the new beams, supported on the existing stone corbels. It has four slopes that lead the rainwater to a perimeter gutter, where it is collected by cast bronze gargoyles, in the shape of a triangular prism. The gargoyles are located on the west and east elevations, projecting the waters directly onto the lower balcony or onto the ground. Its location on the site was evaluated, in order to take advantage of the existing openings, carried out by the DGEMN (in campaigns carried out in the 30s and 40s of the 20th century). The balcony, in turn, is clad in zinc and has a metal grid walkway, where a railing is fixed. It is equipped with slopes suitable for directing rainwater towards the second set of gargoyles, also made of bronze but with a circular section, which will disperse them in the surrounding terrain.

The introduction of lighting and security equipment, essential for making the most of the interior space, has a minimal expression in the building since it is directed, in a hidden way, under the floors and ceilings in brass tubes. This form of installation avoids intervention on the walls, which are intended to remain intact, without, however, reducing the flexibility of future use of the space. The lighting system consists of luminaires suspended from the ceilings, which do not affect the existing walls and accentuate the museum character of the building.

The entrance space functions as reception and distribution, with access to two exhibition rooms to the east, a cloakroom to the south, and a multipurpose room to the west. Access to the warehouse located on the basement floor, under the multipurpose room, will be conditioned and will be carried out through a hidden staircase over a trapdoor.

Access to the 1st floor, where there will be a large space for exhibitions or collective events, is ensured by a new brown wooden staircase, with a guard and brass handrails. The intermediate landing of this staircase is suspended from a metal beam by means of two bars and is punctually fixed to the existing wall and to the new floor beam. The 1st-floor space is double in height and its floor level is related to the conversational window level, thus recreating the floor level that is presumed to have existed.

It will be a space equipped with an adequate system for the exhibition of museum content, temporarily or permanently. This system consists of removable, flexible and modular structures that allow the formation of self-supporting walls, for the exhibition of pieces vertically, or the creation of horizontal supports, in the form of continuous tables.