Figures of Speech: Nuno Montenegro Designs A Building For The Polytechnic Institute of Beja, Portugal

At the School of Management and Technology at the Polytechnic Institute of Beja, Portugal, Montenegro + Partners Architects created cutout human forms by shaping them in expanded polystyrene, placing them in position before the concrete pour, and removing them after the walls cure. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

The building is one of the largest at the polytechnic, although the 53,000 square feet appear smaller with the laboratory level partially below-grade. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

Near the front entry, the reception-security station faces the stairs up to the classrooms. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

Strips of metal detail the resin-coated steps. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

A corner stairwell is open-air. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

Local fieldstone lines a balcony. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

A painted figure hangs in a corner stairwell. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

Silhouettes cut from wood are glued to the wall and door at the front entrance. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

In a corner stairwell, glazing turns the cutouts into windows, offer-ing a glimpse of southern Portugal’s prairie-like terrain. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

The chemical symbol for water was carved into the entry’s acoustical ceiling. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

A side courtyard’s gravel contrasts with the flooring on the lab level. Photograph by Fernando Guerra.

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