Industrial heritage as cultural hub: the case study of the Real Vinícola and Casa da Arquitectura in Matosinhos (Portugal)
11:00 AM, Wednesday 31 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)
UQAM, pavillon J.-A. De Sève (DS) - DS-1520
|This study is based on the discussion of industrial heritage developed during the final thesis of my master’s degree, entitled “Architecture in span – Internship at Casa da Arquitectura (Matosinhos)”, that had as its initial focus of study the Real Vinícola building, currently occupied by the non-profit institution Casa da Arquitectura – Portuguese Centre for Architecture.
Situated in Matosinhos (Portugal), the Real Vinícola was built based on the city’s first urban planning project developed by the engineer Licínio Guimarães (1884-1892). The urban project was based on an orthogonal layout, suggesting an impulse of modernization for that region. The project was signed by the engineer António da Silva (1853-1909) and the industrial complex was built between 1897 and 1901, totaling 11,000 m² of area that would receive the Real Companhia Vinícola, a company focused on shipping wines. At that moment, the complex had an advanced infrastructure, being the only in the region to have a steam cooperage. Moreover, the architecture shows influences from the British industrial design that can be observed through the works of iron foundry present in the gates and in the columns. Finally, the construction of this compound collaborated to the setting of this region as an industrial zone.
However, due to financial problems, the company closed in the 1930s, which led the industrial complex to its abandonment for 80 years, followed by the decay of the surrounding area. Nonetheless, years later the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza conceived a new urban planning for Matosinhos by promoting a change in its use from industrial to residential. Hence, in the 2010s, the City Council of Matosinhos purchased the Real Vinícola complex and integrated it as part of the new urbanization plan. Moreover, in 2013 this industrial heritage site was classified as a building of public interest, a recognition of its relevance for the collective memory of the region.
In 2015, the rehabilitation process of the Real Vinícola was initiated taking in consideration the necessary infrastructure to become the headquarters of Casa da Arquitectura – Portuguese Centre for Architecture, thus assigning a cultural use for this industrial heritage site. Finally, in 2017, the non-profit institution opened to the public with the mission of safeguarding collections of architecture and engaging the community through the conservation of the Real Vinícola.
Considering the Real Vinícola’s historical background and its significance to the local culture, the discussion then had to tackle existing views of heritage sites. It is largely debated that there is an urge for cities to reincorporate remaining buildings as part of the strategy to solve urban problems, such as spatial segregation and decay. Besides, there is the necessity of promoting an inclusive access to culture. In this case, the cultural use for industrial remains is capable of activating in a first instance the collective memory, often reinforcing the sense of belonging from the communities toward their heritage. Yet, it is also known that cultural uses for industrial heritage sites can also boost other problems such as gentrification processes.
With this in mind, this proposal discusses the possibilities and controversies of cultural use as an alternative for the industrial heritage sites, based on the case of the Real Vinícola. For that reason, the methodology analyses both the rehabilitation process for the building and its new use nowadays. Furthermore, this study explores the Real Vinícola considering its urbanistic, historian, and social aspects. Finally, this study aims to contribute with the ongoing debate regarding new uses for industrial heritage sites by presenting a particular case study through a unique perspective that gathers different areas of study.