An international ideas competition has been launched for a landmark visitor attraction near Sagres within the Algarve region of Portugal (Deadline: 19 September)
Organised by ArcxSite, the contest seeks proposals for an iconic viewing facility on a dramatic promontory between the Cape St Vincent lighthouse and Beliche Fortress.
Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the 75 metre-high clifftop area is popular with tourists and a short distance from the historic Sagres Fortress which occupies the European mainland’s most south-westerly point.
Proposals should require minimal maintenance and include a viewing area of any size, a 45m² meeting and education space, a 20m² restroom facility and a 10m² storage closet. Visitor information – such as brochures, books and videos – may also feature inside the landmark.
According to the brief: ‘The Site Landmark should engage with the landscape and the sea, embracing the area between the Cape St Vincent lighthouse and the Beliche Fortress, yet form a visual relationship to the Sagres Fortress promontory.
‘There are no limitations in height, excavation or extension beyond the limits of the cliff edge. Because this is an ideas competition, urban planning and building regulations will not be applied to the design proposal.’
The Sagres Fortress was built in the 15th-century ‘Age of Discovery’ by Portugal’s Henry the Navigator when the settlement was a key hub of maritime activity.
The dramatic castle – along with the polygonal Beliche Fortress – was later damaged in an attack by English privateer Francis Drake and then reconstructed. The lighthouse was constructed in 1846.
Submissions must respect the natural landscape and historic structures but there are no restrictions on the height or depth of excavation. Existing footpaths may be integrated into the facility, removed, replaced or supplemented with additional routes.
Additional outdoor seating areas – allowing multiple viewing opportunities – and facilities for hosting local community events should also be included.
The structure is intended to age with the landscape and the average humidity on the exposed Costa Vicentina site is 75 per cent.
The Algarve region became a tourist destination during the 1960s and today hosts many hotels, villas and golf courses.
Part of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, the area is also popular for its spectacular scenery and ocean views.
The competition is open to all student and professional architects aged 40 and under. Anonymous submissions should include one A1-size board only.
The overall winner will receive €2,000, and a second-place prize of €1,000 and third-place prize worth €500 will also be awarded.
How to apply
Registration deadline is 19 September and submissions must be completed by 23:59 hrs local time (GMT+1) on 24 September.
Early registration from 16 May to 18 July: €60 + VAT
Regular registration from 19 July to 31 August: €75 + VAT
Late registration from 1 September to 19 September: €90 + VAT
Visit the competition website for more information
The Pyramid case study: Q&A with Daniel Bär
The co-founder of BTE Architecture discusses how he designed a competition-winning landmark for Loch Lomond in Scotland
How did your Pyramid viewing platform respond to Loch Lomond’s landscape and cultural significance?
The viewpoint’s geometry, which is based on triangles in plan and section, is universal and as such not specific or reflective to the particular site. Therefore the viewpoint does not necessarily use the landscape as a context, but as building, creates a new context for the landscape instead. The viewpoint is deliberately designed as a landmark that wants to be used by its visitors.
It is visible from afar through its scale and physicality. As one approaches the structure, the viewpoint appears as a vertical wall that actually blocks out the view. This relationship however changes once the visitor enters the viewpoint though its tunnel and into the view. At this point the structure disappears and the surrounding hills are present, almost as walls, more than the viewpoint itself, therefore the proposal is experience-based.
Source: Image by Andrew Lee
What material, structural and other techniques are available to designers seeking to achieve a similarly impressive impact?
In the context of its setting, a peninsula overlooking the UK’s largest stretch of inland water, every structure is naturally dwarfed. The reason why the pyramid doesn’t appear to be arrives from both its proportion (rather than actual scale), and to a greater extent from the carefully choreographed sequence. This is determined by how the visitor is taken on the journey to, through, up and around the building. This sequence is structured via selected perspectives, selected because the route of the journey is also architecturally defined with a path.
Source: Image by Ross Campbell
How would you set about designing a landmark destination for Sagres which provides a unique experience while respecting the immensity of the place?
Landmark destinations are becoming an increasingly popular typology as tourism numbers are rising, which makes it essential for Sagres to identify a specific design solution that adds more than a couple of steps by being relevant to its place and culture. One way of achieving this is to embed the proposal within a wider context. It’s an idea competition and ideas are bigger than designs.
Source: Image by Andrew Lee