The wall of Setúbal, a strategic riverside city near Lisbon, and its fortress were built in 1640 to defend the city from sea invaders. To the fortress original buildings were added, throughout time, many other. The complex is now Setúbal’s school of culinary arts and hotel management for a vast territory.
We researched the history and archaeology of the buildings with a local team but, above all, we examined the buildings. This knowledge and respect for what was built was the basis of the project, the design and the works. The site heritage was praised and restored the historic value of most elements, and spurious constructions were demolished. With respect for the history, the new design adopted contemporary lines and clear forms and volumes.
Traditional building techniques were used in the old buildings, refurbishing the vaults and the masonry walls and rebuilding new wooden roofs and floorings. During the works the site revealed itself and many things hidden in the walls were integrated in the project. While prospecting to open a new door, towards the city, in the wall to access the restaurant it was discovered an old one, in the same place, from the sixteenth century, at that time leading to the governor’s house, and so on…
The new blocks were located in the perimetry of the complex and next to the wall recreating the memory of the old patrol passage. Outside, towards the city, the wood is reused in slats creating shadows, filtering the sun and inside/outside views.
In 2009 history changed, the abandoned military base became a school and a new city attraction centre.
Today the site is used by students learning hotel management, culinary arts, the secrets of wines and olive oils and other delicacies. The municipal gallery gathers artists and other personalities.
The site fitted well the program created by the team with Turismo de Portugal, masters in the art, local hotel managers and the municipality. Besides the art gallery and a small auditorium shared with a local theatre company the school includes lecture and practical classrooms, a canteen, leisure rooms and a special restaurant where it is possible to test what the students are learning. The complex also includes a hotel with 22 rooms where, like the restaurant, the guests are hosted by students and teachers.
During the breaks the students use the fortress parade square, surrounded by the historical buildings to leisure under the shades of trees. An old cedar tree that we managed to survive the works, near the library is the perfect shadow for reflection, to read or to enjoy the views towards the city’s main avenue.
In the top of the fortress, the hotel breakfast room esplanade is the perfect spot for guests to enjoy both the possibility of isolation from the school and city or to watch the business of the port.
In the weekends the school invites the community to participate in workshops, wines and olive oil tastings and many other events. A refurbishment that changed Setubal’s life.