Aurora Arquitectos connects classroom blocks with a bright yellow stair tower

Aurora Arquitectos has combined two class blocks at the Artave Music School in the Portuguese village of Caldas da Saúde with a bright yellow extension and a stair tower.

The architecture studio renovated two closely spaced classroom blocks and improved circulation by adding an L-shaped extension that connects the two buildings and creates open spaces for meetings.

In order to clearly distinguish the addition from the existing structures, Aurora Arquitectos chose a light color for all visible exterior of the extension.

“The general concept was to create a link between two existing buildings that would act as a meeting point and relaxation spot during breaks,” said Aurora Arquitectos co-founder Sérgio Antunes.

“We wanted this body to be independent in its architectural language so that the existing buildings could be read,” he told Dezeen.

Artave Music School in Caldas da Saúde, Portugal, by Aurora Arquitectos

The most visible element of the extension is a large stair tower that protrudes into an inner courtyard next to the class blocks. The structure follows the threads of the stairs and protrudes over a concrete amphitheater in the inner courtyard.

“We hope it will be a center of attraction on this campus where it all comes together,” said Antunes. “The point where you can go anywhere.”

Artave Music School in Caldas da Saúde, Portugal, by Aurora Arquitectos

Aurora Arquitectos chose yellow for the stair tower and other facades to highlight the building even on cloudy days.

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“This project is in a region of Portugal where it rains a lot and the winter days can be very gloomy,” said Antunes. “This building is meant to be a counterpoint, and the yellow was a way to emphasize that contrast.”

Artave Music School in Caldas da Saúde, Portugal, by Aurora Arquitectos

The light colors continue in the extension where the walls are painted light orange and the floor is painted light red.

This was designed to juxtapose the ground floor of the extension and the renovated classrooms where the architecture studio used shades of gray.

Artave Music School in Caldas da Saúde, Portugal, by Aurora Arquitectos

“The rest of the colors are calmer,” explained Antunes. “The ground floor is done in shades of gray so that the yellow can float on the upper floors and add contrast,” he continued.

“When you go from a neutral to a yellow room, the effect is so strong that you have the impression of breathing a different air.”

Artave Music School in Caldas da Saúde, Portugal, by Aurora Arquitectos

Aurora Arquitectos is a Lisbon-based architecture studio led by Antunes and Sofia Couto, founded in 2010. The studio previously created a colorful hostel, located in an old family home, which turned a destroyed building in Lisbon into a fun family home.

The photography was kindly provided by Aurora Arquitectos.

Project credits:

Architect: Aurora Architects
Team: Sérgio Antunes, Sofia Reis Couto, Tânia Sousa, Rui Baltazar, Ivo Lapa, Carolina Rocha, Bruno Pereira, Dora Jerbic, Anna Cavenago and Afonso Nunes
Construction supervision: Pedro Sousa Cruz
Engineering: Manuel Silva, Dash Flat Engineering

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