MIRANDA DO CORVO – A critically acclaimed project for well-established Portuguese firm FAT – Future Architecture Thinking – recently drew attention to itself as it has been featured in a wide variety of far reaching social media platforms and design-related publications. However, most of them simply depicted the building as a ‘flashy’ eye-pleasing object.

Standing out from the rather stagnant Portuguese contemporary architecture scene, the House of the Arts holds multiple spatial and morphological qualities which allow a full appreciation of the level of excellence achieved by architect Miguel Correia over the past two decades.

A question remains, why is there such an ever-growing enthusiasm towards this enigmatic building located in Miranda do Corvo, about an hour away from Porto?

With its expressive high sloped rooftops and bright red continuous façades, this landmark seems to have developed its own architectural vocabulary so as to initiate a very unique and contrasting dialogue with the mountainous landscape and the surrounding’s traditional constructions. As the red colour confers an undeniable urban feel to the whole composition, the building triumphantly sits among trees and small white village houses.

Celebrating culture and creative encounters, the House of the Arts offers many access points to its versatile spaces in order for various public events to be held conveniently. Through a well thought-out site plan, architects from FAT were also able to provide the local population with an outdoor amphitheatre/family-friendly garden.

A central foyer leads to exhibition areas, a state-of-the-art auditorium and a cafeteria suitable for activities of different kind. To maintain an appropriate scale given the building’s function, the designers cautiously distributed the programme into three distinctive volumes dealing with varying lighting atmospheres.

Putting aside all frivolous features that could qualify the House of the Arts as an actual ‘architectural icon’, it seems somewhat relevant to acknowledge the efficiency of the dialogue between Correia’s work and its context, as well as the building’s ability to manage such a diverse programme while relating to a modest – and proper – scale.

Photos courtesy of João Morgado