Monitoring and Investigation Center
of Furnas by Aires Mateus

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Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

Photographer Fernando Guerra has sent us these photographs of two stone-clad buildings by Lisbon firm Aires Mateus Architects that form a research centre with accommodation on the island of São Miguel, Portugal.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Centre is the larger of the two buildings and has three wings that enclose a central courtyard, overlooked by all rooms.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The accommodation building is simpler in form with a square plan and a pitched roof. Each facade is punctured by a ceiling-height glazed doorway.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The accommodation has a symmetrical plan divided into four spaces each with a different ceiling height.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

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Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

Here's some more from the architects:


The project intends to evoke the architectural landscape of the Azores, drawing upon the form and material that embed the collective memory of this island and archipelago, that have become, with time, a second nature of this place.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

Therefore the buildings are archetypal volumes, simple and compact, clad with the local basaltic stone.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Centre

This building asserts itself as the largest of the group to build around the lagoon. Being the most exceptional building, the Furnas Monitoring and Investigation Centre draws on an intermediate space between exterior and interior – the courtyard.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

This element results from a subtraction to the volume, cutting it from within the central zone (the vertex of the four roof fields) to the exterior limit of a facade thus enabling access to the interior.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

This internal courtyard also becomes the point where the main internal compartments are revealed.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

These spaces, truncated by the subtraction that defines the courtyard maintain all relations between interior/exterior.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The building was therefore conceived as a sculpture, as a block of raw matter that is intentionally cut into to capture light and the lagoon itself.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

Accomodation for researchers

The building for temporary accomodation is a compact volume of four fields compartmentalised into four units.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The building is cut in each of the four facades by a wooden threshold that enables the penetration of light and access to each of the accomodation units.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

There is an established hierarchy of heights between the four spaces related to the solar orientation of each unit.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus

The exterior wall of the building is structural where the necessary infrastructures and services run as oppose to the light interior timber walls.

Monitoring and Investigation Center of Furnas by Aires Mateus


See also:

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Casa Areia by
Aires Mateus Architects
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  • salvo

    I think this project is excelent in the formal and material matter, however I think that it should make us questioning about the future of a new architectonic language.

  • Phil

    great work love it. sober and highly finished.

  • Mark

    What do you think? Is this a new language or does it need some renewal?

    • salvo

      it needs something___

  • http://www.arqrosadasilva.com António Rosa da Silva

    Portuguese architecture at it’s best… nice work, very peaceful and in total respect of the surrounding environment.

  • Cubasur

    Ahhhh…get these horribly dressed people off the photographs…totally kills the drama

  • ddddave

    No no, get this annoying photographer out of the room…. spoiling for the badly dressed people.

  • GJS

    What does it monitor and investigate?

  • uio

    How many angular barns can humanity build in five years?

  • http://www.mkshkhm.com mohamed

    it shows that he consider abiut lighting more.

    every one should care when he design a building about the sun direction.

    great …

  • jack

    GJS, it monitors and investigates truncations by the subtraction that defines the courtyard maintaining all relations between interior/exterior, in other words I've got no idea.
    Very beautiful buildings, pity they are so empty and you don't seem to be able to see the stunning scenery from inside, why?

  • Amna S.A

    The affect of the nature on the design of the building is very obvious , specially the usage of materials , colors and the the difference in hight between the spaces
    in addition the influence of indirect light on the interior gave a peaceful atmosphere .

  • Mohammed

    The inspiration of nature is very clear in this design , we can see this feeling of mountains and the environment around through materials used , the affect of lighting in side the building and colors . the big scale in using glassed opening made a great interaction between indoor and outdoor.

  • shamma

    Appear on the simplicity of the project inspired from nature which surrounding the building, it's in the middle of the green, this is give great reflection, also the lighting inside the building is from the nature and spread across the building

  • fizz

    I like the idea it's for monitoring and investigating but of what seems to be a secret. I could say 'the truth is out there'…. As for architecture in landscape, they carry out the neat trick of being unobtrusive from a distance yet full of impact close up. So, a maybe yes.

  • Flavio

    The so Called "FURNAS" is a phenomenon that happens in azores that the land in that place in specific, frees a lot of heat, tho when you walk in that place you can't feel it even with your feet naked, but if you put food in a whole after 2 hours it's cooked like in a normal kitchen. The local people use it as a tourist place where they cook national dishes and local dishes there to eat with friends and family…

    About the project, it's a typical project from aires mateus, they are really great architects and their efforts to build with nature is growing in quality :) Loved the design…