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As part of a collaborative of architects, engineers, designers and students, Freehaus has hand-built, the first non-reinforced marble structure for over a century; moreover one of the first to be exclusively built from marble waste.
Fabricated and installed in Portuguese marble supplier – ETMA’s – factory premises, the pavilion is intended to be used as an educational tool for employees, local students, international architects, engineers and clients.
Giving the illusion of being paper thin, the structure, at only 1 inch thick and comprising of just 2 layers of laminated marble, springs from one curved wall before forming two sweeping catenary vaults.
The spatial experience, with views framing distant waste marble mounds is formed with an attitude to scale and a sequence of interior and exterior experiences, curated around the simple movement from one vault to another.
Light plays off the exterior surface, contrasting the smooth interiors. The snake-skin effect on the surface along with the systematic randomising of the orientation of the marble tiles showcases variety in the pink-veined material. This has an added impact on the pavilion’s overall construction, making the very heavy and solid structure seem lighter and accentuate its appearance of being ‘paper thin’.
Through our ongoing residency in the many quarries and factories of this historic marble region of Alentejo we have been exploring architectural ideas for the significant volumes of quarried yet unused marble to find contemporary relevance to the wider community as a primary building material. Utilising a 10cm by 10cm module for our individual marble tiles means that the majority of the unused marble blocks can be efficiently cut down with little further waste.
Working with skilled local employees and alongside the factories growing fabrication capacities and ambitions, the pavilion is the first architectural scale prototype of the residency. In a region where the many of the younger generations are moving away, where employment opportunities are dwindling and the marble waste littered landscapes have been doomed unfit for human occupation, the pavilion also presents hope.