Digital Reconstructions of Caparica and Alferrara According to the Statutes of the Province of Santa Maria da Arrábida

Digital Reconstructions of Caparica and Alferrara According to the Statutes of the Province of Santa Maria da Arrábida

What would the ideal Arrábida convent look like if we followed the rules of the Estatutos da Província de Santa Maria da Arrábida as strictly as possible? How do specific instances of these convents compare to this ideal?

These were some of the original questions that guided our pursuit of making a tangible representation of the rules. Since the adjacencies between spaces were sparsely articulated in the rules, we thought to produce a 3d printed “puzzle” in our lab where all of the volumetric models could be made as a tangible play kit that we could be re-use again and again across all of the convents studied. Since many of the convents to date have been modified completely or in ruins, the puzzle can help provide some clues on what the original spaces could be by equating the dimensions of the spaces.

Each “puzzle piece” was printed at a scale of 1:100; a common scale used across the drawing sets gathered for each site and includes the name of the space it represents along with the dimensions described in the text. Spaces in white are those with dimensions verified in the rules while those in red are those without dimensions. Further, in instances where two sets of dimensions are given for the same space, we printed two versions, one of each typology, in order to allow for some tolerance for our speculations of the spaces. An example of this is the kitchen which was permitted to have a larger dimension if it were located outside of the main building. Eventually, we hope that by studying a number of Arrábida variants through the puzzle we could have a better understanding of what an ideal configuration of the spaces could be and to have a richer understanding of the buildings still intact today.

Recent plan drawings of Caparica to make these speculations will be modelled in the eventual HBIM. We will be presenting our results to historians who can interact and draw physically upon our results to offer alternatives or to make validations.

In August, the 3D printed puzzle of Estatutos da Província de Santa Maria da Arrábida was used to help generate provisional speculations on 2 phases of construction (1558 and 1630) of the spaces in Caparica. The first, 1558,  is the date of the original construction of the convent and the second, 1630, is the stage in which the convent was expanded as part of larger campaign in the period when many convents faced renewed facades and expansions of the church. The findings led to a series of research questions that are ongoing in our investigation and key to understanding the original manifestations of the convent.

We also sought to reproduce a speculation on original state of the convent in Alferrara as a public dissemination artifact in light of recent efforts to stabilize the ruins by architects Victor Mestre and Sofia Aleixo and to see how the rules of Estatutos da Província de Santa Maria da Arrábida were interpreted in this smaller convent. In Alferrara, the spaces of the puzzle aligned much more closely to the spaces of the current building than in Caparica. Despite this, however, there still appears to be many extra spaces and programs that are not articulated in the rules.

The hypothesis of these comparisons is that the language of physical models allows a more inclusive illustration of our reconstruction efforts that could be understand by a more inclusive audience of not only architects, historians but other research publics. Given that the models included the plans of the buildings below as they appear today, the models also demonstrate visually, the gaps of information about each unknown space in the building.

Acknowledgements to:
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
New Paradigm / New Tools
Instituto Superior Técnico – University of Lisbon
Carleton Immersive Media Studio
The Municipality of Almada
NOVA University of Lisbon – School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NOVA FCSH)

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