Terminal de Cruzeiros de Leixões is a masterpiece of Portuguese architecture. From the distance, it reminds a roll of paper unfolding. The Terminal consists of four “arms” – one goes to the ship, another to the south pier, another to the city and the last one ends inside the building. If in the distance the work awakens the curiosity, seen from close up is overwhelming.
Facing it, we are swallowed by an immense light, reflected by the white hexagonal tiles that appear throughout the whole building. They are about one million and were produced by Vista Alegre. Its uneven placement means that there are no two tiles in a row in the same position, which causes a beautiful light play, which reflects various shades.
From the bright common atrium, from which the building rises in spiral, it’s possible to see the three upper floors. The first one, where one ascends by elevator or by a curved ramp, is intended for the functions of logistics to passengers.
The second is reserved for the Interdisciplinary Center for Marine Research of the University of Porto (CIIMAR). On this floor there are two curious details: the red fish mouth that contrasts with the immaculate whiteness of the building, the air-conditioning gills in the ceiling, and the exit to the outside, to remind the mouth of a whale.
On the third and last floor, the glass pane from the floor to the ceiling already shows a wide scenery on sea and land. But it is in the open-air amphitheatre, with a slanted wall of 14 meters, that the eyes are lost in the wide ocean and by Leça da Palmeira, Matosinhos and Porto. A welcome postcard between the land and the sea.
The Terminal de Cruzeiros de Leixões is a small port complex of initiative of the Douro and Leixões Ports Administration, in Matosinhos, which was designed by the Portuguese architect Luís Pedro Silva. The design honours the Portuguese tiles when being coated with one million three-dimensional ceramic tiles – made in Portugal, of course. Glazed tiles achieve a chromatic variety through the way the sunlight strikes the hexagonal pieces, which changes throughout the day and the seasons.
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♦ Terminal de Cruzeiros de Leixões: Discover all the Secrets from Portugal ♦