Herzog & de Meuron architects just unveiled an amazing open-air community center and gymnasium located in Natal, Brazil. The large gymnasium is the first stage of the ambitious Mãe Luiza neighborhood redevelopment plan, which will provide more community spaces and services for local residents. The regeneration plan, led by the Swiss architects and Centro Sócio, will use the existing community spaces as a framework to create a series of new buildings in hopes of fostering community involvement.
In order to maintain the personality of the neighborhood, the architects focused on expanding and reframing the original space of the Arena do Morro community center while adding new design features. The existing geometry was preserved as the team surrounded the existing space with undulating concrete perimeter and a large overhanging gabled roof.
The aluminum-finned roof covers the entire area, protecting the space from rain while allowing for optimal sunlight and air circulation to enter the center, resulting in reduced energy costs. The jutting roof panels and the curvy orientation of the perimeter provide varying levels of transparency for the center. The architects explain that “Each block has diagonally positioned vertical fins with rounded edges. By rotating the blocks, different orientations of the fins create various levels of transparency as well as privacy.”
Although the 420-seat arena is at the heart of the recently completed project, the design also has a variety of individual multipurpose community spaces, locker rooms and a large terrace with beautiful ocean views.
Photography by Leonardo Finotti