Highly commended

Manuel Rocha de Aires Mateus

Student Housing

Coimbra, Portugal

December 2000

The extremely elegant student hostel for the University of Coimbra in Portugal is a lesson in reserve and clear planning. The site is triangular, a corner formed by the arbitrary junction of two streets. An impassive face is presented to the west where a seven-storey slab block faces its concrete neighbours. A long low wing defines the southern border of the site, and the two enclose a quiet open court. One of the real delights of the building is the way the white concrete blocks of the blank walls contrast with the warm wood of the permeable ones. Each of these front individual student rooms has a tall window with shutters made of the same wood as the cladding. This is a simple device, environmentally friendly and elegantly dramatic, for as the shutters are opened and closed, the changing patterns of the building reveal its inner life.

Contact: Manuel Rocha de Aires Mateus, Aires Mateus e Associados