Located in the beautiful Azores Island stands a daring contemporary art centre. Hosting an exciting range of activities and spaces, all ready to showcase countless possibilities and aesthetics. Assuredly there is the classic white cube as gallery space; however, the true visual protagonist is a confident concrete throughout the preserved tobacco factory. A seamless dialogue between old and new takes place in Arquipélago.
The architecture practice behind this endeavour wears its heart on its sleeve, known as menos é mais, meaning less is more; an explicit minimalist mission from the get go. As expected, the whole project engages with geometry and symmetry in several incarnations. From a raw stage room with grids, ropes and wires doubling as functional and aesthetic elements, to playful empty spaces with various heights and textures.
Volcanic stone masonries alternate with stark concrete, a co-existence that brings a much needed depth and variance to the usual art gallery formula. Since emptiness is a necessary measure to host a myriad of activities and art works, the architects employed a rich variety of textures throughout each building.
It is fascinating to witness minimalism as a starting point for a cultural centre, and not as a solution. Less is more indeed.
Photography by José Campos.