Play Pavilion, Guimarães, Portugal

1:50 model


The Pavilion is an architectural structure designed to foster open-ended play and exploration. Its basic form consists of vertical posts interconnected by horizontal members that transform into pathways, bridges and benches at varying heights. This adaptable and open structural system allows for diverse configurations and sizes, enabling it to seamlessly integrate with specific site conditions. As an abstract structure inspired the rectangular geometries of Couro’s tanneries, it actively engages in a dialogue with its surrounding environment.

1:50 model

1:50 model

1:50 model

Crafted from 9 x 9 cm timber components of three different lengths, 240 cm, 180 cm, and 120 cm, the Pavilion is derived from a simple assembly process. The medium-sized vertical components are secured to a steel plate, which is attached to a precast foundation using M16 filleted rods and bolts. The same assembly detail is implemented for the rest of the joints, resulting in a sturdy and visually intriguing irregular structure. The vertical posts are intentionally raised slightly above the ground, while their tops exhibit a gentle pitch, ensuring durability. Moreover, the foundations are designed to minimise their impact on the ground, which can be maintained as a permeable surface.


1:5 prototype

1:5 prototype

The Pavilion’s colour palette derives inspiration from extensive studies of historical paintings that employ stable natural mineral pigments. By integrating these pigments, the pavilion establishes a connection with its heritage context while forging new relationships with its surroundings. The sides of each timber component are painted in a complementary colour so that all faces on each side of the pavilion are the same. The result is a composition that encourages movement, observation, and an interplay between foreground and background, making the Pavilion an immersive experience.

Prototype isometric axonometric


Blue elevation

Blue-green elevation

Red ochre elevation

Yellow ochre elevation

Colour study, Fra Filippo Lippi, Portrait of a woman, 1445

Colour study, Piero della Francesca, Madonna del Parto, 1460

Colour study, Piero della Francesca, Exaltation of the Cross, 1452



Project: Play Pavilion
Location: Guimarães, Portugal
Client: Município de Guimarães
Commission: 2022
Architect: Estar, Aurora Armental Ruiz & Stefano Ciurlo Walker
Collaborators: Alejandro Morales Martín
Model photography: Andrés Fraga