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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Cartaxo Cultural Centre in Cartaxo, Portugal by CVDB Arquitectos

December 23rd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: CVDB Arquitectos

The new Cultural Centre in Cartaxo stands out for the bold in situ exposed concrete cantilever that, like a “belly of a whale”, projects itself onto the sidewalk and foyer to house the main auditorium. This public building is located between two gables, taking on the modest urban scale of the main square of Cartaxo. The building introduces an iconographic and public character that balances the relationship between the site exiguity and the extensive programme.

Main Façade and the urban context

  • Architects: CVDB Arquitectos
  • Project: Cartaxo Cultural Centre
  • Location: Cartaxo, Portugal
  • Project data: Invited competition – 1st prize, 2001, completed 2005
  • Client: Câmara Municipal do Cartaxo (Cartaxo Municipality)
  • Total Built area: 3 200 sq m (34 445 sq ft)
  • Construction cost including stage equipment: € 3 000 000 euros ($ 4,278,898 USD)
  • Feasibility design: Diogo Burnay, Cristina Veríssimo with Alberto Vinagre, Filipa Pedro e Patrícia Pedrosa

Main Auditorium

  • Basic design: Diogo Burnay, Cristina Veríssimo with Alberto Vinagre, Filipa Pedro, Marta Santos, Patrícia Pedrosa, Patrícia Ribeiro, Rui Cavaleiro, Sofia Louro.
  • Detail design and construction documents: Diogo Burnay, Cristina Veríssimo with Alberto Vinagre, António Cotrim, Filipa Pedro, José Ferreira, Marta Santos, Patrícia Pedrosa, Patrícia Ribeiro, Patrick Pessoa, Rui Cavaleiro e Sofia Louro.
  • Site supervision: Diogo Burnay, Cristina Veríssimo with António Cotrim, Patrícia Ribeiro, Manuel Pelicano.
  • Industrial and furniture Design consultant: Atelier Daciano Costa
  • Foundation and structural engineers: Quadrante, engineers and consultants, ltd, João Costa.
  • Structural consultant: Professor António Adão da Fonseca
  • Water and drainage: Sipca, Engineers and consultants, ltd, Jorge Lipari Pinto and Fernanda Felix.
  • M&E: Eduardo Falcão Álvaro Costa.
  • Security and fire regulations: Pedro Salgado.
  • Acoustic consultant: Certiprojecto, engineers and consultants, Palma Ruivo.
  • Stage consultant: Professor José Carlos Barros.
  • Stage and cinema equipment: Solercine, ltd.
  • General Contractor: Teixeira Duarte, SA.
  • Photography: FG + SG Fernando Guerra


Artist’s entrance

The foyer on the ground floor is strongly related to the main civic square of the city, thus emphasising the public character of this building. The cinema is located in the basement, and the main hall was raised from the ground, with the capacity for 332 spectators. Transparency and permeability allow for a visual and spatial porous relationship to be established with the square. From the outside one senses the movement of its users within the building. A flow is generated between the interior of the building and the exterior, which is performed and accentuated by the bulging curvature of the exposed concrete of the “whale’s belly”.

Concrete structure: view from the upper foyer to the exterior

Part of the façade is occupied by a mediating element of scale, a concrete and glass screen enabling one to inhabit the periphery and the exterior wall. The public spaces are constructed with exposed concrete, slate floors and timber studs walls, thus emphasizing the presence of the character of these materials. Strong colours, bright yellow and red are used in the back stage areas, revealing to the street a somewhat lively character of these part of the building programme. In the two halls, light is revealed as if it was sculptured out of the walls and ceilings surfaces.

Upper access to the auditorium and the main foyer


The Architecture practice CVDB ARQUITECTOS was founded by Cristina Veríssimo and Diogo Burnay in 1999. The studio work ranges from urban design projects to new buildings, from rehabilitation of old buildings to interior architecture or ephemeral structures. The studio is committed to develop a professional practice associated to architectural research, understanding each project as an open and participated field to all involved in the design process, exploring current design practices and building design methods that position architecture as part of a larger physical and cultural landscape and considering the individual’s experience and perception of urban spaces. The practice has had several national and international design awards, has been invited to lecture in Portugal, Spain, France, Argentina and the USA. Their work has been published and exhibited in several countries, such as Portugal, France, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Mexico and China.

Main Façade

Cristina Veríssimo graduated in Architecture at the Faculdade de Arquitectura (FA-UTL) and has a Masters from the GSD, Harvard. She worked with João Luis Carrilho da Graça in Lisbon and with Zaha Hadid in London. She has been a jury and lectured in schools in Hong Kong, Europe, Argentina, USA, and currently teaches design studio at the Faculdade de Arquitectura in Lisbon.

Main Façade and the urban context

Diogo Burnay graduated in Architecture at the Faculdade de Arquitectura (FA-UTL) and has a Masters from the Bartlett, London. He worked in Lisbon, London and Macau. He taught and lectured in schools in Hong Kong, Europe, was the Cass Gilbert Professor at CALA, University of Minnesota, 2002 and 2006, was the Ralph Hawkins professor at the School of Architecture of the University of Texas, Arlington, in the fall 2007 and currently teaches design studio at the Faculdade de Arquitectura in Lisbon.


Lower foyer and cloakroom

Small auditorium

Access from the groundfloor to the lower foyer

View from the lower foyer to the street and the vertical void

Main stairs that connect both levels of the foyers


CVDB Arquitectos

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Category: Cultural Center

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