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The research of the place. Finding the environment for the Observatory

The research of the place. Finding the environment for the Observatory. I had asked myself a series of questions regarding the use and the place of the Transborder Landscape observatory. Now, after the crit is time to re-think both the answers and the questions. What if there are other meaningful places where to place the Observatory? What other requirements may have?

I had already set myself the following constrains.   

It has to be in a rise place from where you can have a peripheral view and total control of the landscape from north to south. It has to be close to the frontier of Al-Ex because in one of the R+D centers that has to work in the whole euroregion. It has to be in a meaningful place, a place where we have some element of value such as a built heritage. This goes with the idea of reinforce, rehabilitate and reuse the existing heritage. It has to have good infrastructure conditions.

I ask myself now… 

Does it have to be in a place from where you can have peripheral view and total control? Can we work with verticality in this landscape? In terms of connection and of information clearly no because as Key said on the VC tall the exchange of information can be done trough twitter and other software platforms. Still being a Landscape observatory it has to have a certain visibility from the place and to the place. Probably it can have a “hybrid solution” mixing horizontality and rise position. This means that it may not be on top of a big promontory or mountain, and that is does not has to be a skyscraper in the middle of the Al-Ex region. This “hybrid solution” could pass by creating a horizontal structure in the middle of a promontory or on top of a smaller one. Also we have to take into account that this privileged position can be achieve by means of alternative options such as the hot air balloons that Milan is proposing on his project. Does it have to be close to the frontier? In case of yes… Is there any possibility that the observatory is actually ON the frontier? What kind of frontiers can we find? Yes, without any doubt this question will always have the same answer. The observatory due to the character of the project, and to the asset that will research must be placed as close to the frontier as possible. It must be in the middle in order to reinforce this idea of the erasure of the frontier and the engagement of the regions of Alentejo and Extremadura creating one single space, the Al-Ex region. But why couldn’t be ON the frontier? The Al-Ex frontier is one of the frontiers of the world that has a physical element that marks this separation line, the Guadiana River. This river

has separated along history Spain and Portugal and now could be the time to unite them trough this same point. It has to be in a meaningful place, how meaningful? If the idea is to merge both areas creating the Al-Ex territory the placement of the observatory shouldn’t be randomly chosen in terms of meaning. It shouldn’t be in the middle of nowhere in the estepa or in the montado. The place must somehow reflect history, and what we will do is not change history but write the next pages “in order to look forward you should look back” This idea is also directly related with the reuse of the existing heritage as a frame and in order to rehabilitate the existing buildings that are falling apart What are we trying to say with this building? Can architecture represent the enforcement of the relation of the relation between two areas of different countries? The meaningful place must serve us as a frame, but now is our time to write a new page of history. That is why the creation of the building must reflect the new age in where both areas cooperate together and leave back the past of wars and unfriendly “neighborhood”. Can it represent through the simple shape the union of both areas? The erasure of the existing boarder? I believe that some buildings can connect two areas, can unite two people and can serve as a meeting point. This building can also express this through their shapes and disposals. How, is something that will be researched along the semester. Can it be related with other main aspect of the landscape? As I said before the landscape is not the montado, the landscape is more than, is related with the biodiversity and with the human footprint along the centuries. That is one reason why it has to be also in a a meaningful place. Beyond that the landscape is also water, is the Guadiana River. This aspect of the landscape will also be researched so, maybe I should reconsider the idea of the placement by looking for a closer place to this big asset that is water and that is directly related with the landscape. “water shapes the Landscape”.

Having thought and researched about the possible places, and knowing that this place must fulfill all the self imposed requirements I believe that there is an special area of all AlentejoExtremadura that can be the one. If we talk about “meaningful area” no area in the entire Al-Ex region has more meaning than the area where the city of Olivenza is placed. Olivenza has been an element of dispute between Spanish and Portuguese people until 10 years ago and especially after the creation of the Euroregion in 2008. Olivenza has changed of side several times along history. Nowadays belongs to Spain since 1820. This change of country along history has shaped the city in a unique way creating what it is probably the one and only “Iberian city”. Right next to the city of Olivenza remain the ruins of the past fighting between both countries, the Ponte de Ajuda. Built in 1510 by the King D.Manuel I this bridge used to connect the cities of Elvas and Olivenza (when Olivenza was still part of the Portuguese territory) and it has been bombed along history and lately reconstructed until 1709 when was lastly bombed by the Spanish in the Guerra de succession, and never built again.

On the Portuguese side of the frontier we can also find the fortress of Juromenha, another beautiful Fortaleza abaluartada placed on top of a small promontory that has also predominant views of the landscape. Regarding the meaning of the building and the relation of the landscape I think that these two points can and should go together.

A new typology should be investigated in order to represent the reinforcement of the relation between two countries and the erasure of the frontier. What if the landscape observatory is actually ON the only existing physical frontier? What if the frontier is no longer solid but liquid? What if we have the river as the frontier? (I remember you that the Guadiana River in this area is considered as “international waters”). What if the landscape observatory is a connector element between both areas (both physically and of knowledge)? I believe that the observatory should be this connector element between a bridge-pavilion that connects both sides of the river, both sides of the frontier, physically and in knowledge. Due to the meaningful place this bridge should be placed along the area of Olivenza with clear eye contact with the old ponte de ajuda. “the bridge pavilion will break old stigmas and merge both parts of the frontier into one, the Al-Ex region”.

Area where the Bridge-Pavilion will be placed and the possible control of the surrounding areas

The research of the place