The Environmental Interpretation Centre on São Jorge Island in the middle of the Atlantic is a sensitive reconstruction of a historic property. Designed by Ana Laura Vasconcelos—who works for the Azores Government of Portugal—the stone center provides information on the surrounding area and is the first part of a larger project to bring more people to the region. The new center is based on an original building and was expanded to provide space for education and a temporary apartment for those that might come to the area to study or do research. Local materials and local techniques make this renovation a new treasure in the National Park of Azores.
The Environmental Interpretation Centre is located on the shores of the Faja da Caldeira de Santo Cristo on São Jorge Island on the Azores archipelago of Portugal. The islands are very remote and located smack dab in the middle of the Atlantic and not particularly well-known, but are quite beautiful. The government is trying to increase tourism and education of their parks and the Centre is one of their projects to aid that effort. The Centre will help provide information on the area, serve as an education center on the local environment, support architectural heritage and serve as a center to further study the local flora and fauna.
Design work began on the Environmental Interpretation Centre in 2007 with construction starting in 2009. The original property features a one story stone building, which was used as the foundation for the reconstruction. This building was faithfully restored using the original plans, but adding a second story and then an additional building behind it. The main building serves as the education center and the building behind is a temporary apartment for visiting researchers. Thick stone walls act as thermal mass to slow the transfer of heat and keep the interior comfortable. Deep window wells provide natural light but minimize heat gain. In the future a campsite will be created and the Interpretation Centre will serve as its headquarters.
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