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Fase II Portal Bosque, Learning Center

livni+, Diego Arraigada Arquitectos

La Barra, Maldonado, Uruguay

June 2023


Pedro Livni (Head Designer), Diego Arraigada (Head Designer)


Francisco Falabella (Project Director), Sofía Rothman (Design Team), Nicolás Alvarez Saby (Design Team), Paula Pasquinelli (Design Team), Valentin Eyheralde (Design Team


Matias Woloski, Mariquel Waingarten


Marcos Guiponi


The design process was informed by a thorough interdisciplinary work with the pedagogical team.
The building had to provide an array of spaces for learning, creative and cultural experiences for the children of the local community.
The forest is the first learning space, and the way the building relates to it exemplifies a respectful and enriching relationship between nature and the human habitat.
A series of smaller scale and specific learning rooms were required for distinct groups of children and activities, while a large and more versatile space was meant to be a common area for integration, display and socializing.
This programmatic setting was translated into a spatial arrangement that defines the main common space as a central square, and several circular classrooms with different sizes plugged into its perimeter. They accommodate the learning spaces for Arts and Crafts, Music, Audiovisual, Library and a Fab Lab.
The circular classrooms have a smaller scale, a translucent skin and a more introverted quality, fostering concentration and focus. They flock into the central square space, which is taller, spatially flexible, and has a transparent open perimeter that allows it to relate with the exterior through the gaps between classrooms.


Portal Bosque is a Social and Cultural Club located in the outskirts of the coastal town of La Barra.
Traditionally a summer vacation town, La Barra and its surroundings has experienced a big growth of population since the pandemics -mainly young families that have established permanently in the area.
The lack of cultural infrastructure encouraged the development of Portal Bosque, a non-profit organization that began providing an array of cultural activities for whole the community.
As part of these offerings, the Learning Center for children was designed to complement traditional education with creative workshops, technological courses and art activities in close relationship with nature.
The site is characterized by being a dense forest of pines and vernacular trees. An existing clear within the woods was carefully selected for the placement of the project.
The building has an organic perimeter and it accommodates itself among the existing trees. Reforestation wood is the main construction material, allowing to potentially dismantling the building in the future.


For the visitor who walks through the forest, the low and organic horizontal building appears suddenly among the trees, bathed with light. It contrasts with the verticality of the trees, while the wooden materiality relates to it.
An interplay between curved and straight walls, open and closed spaces, light and shadows, transparencies and translucencies bring some of the spatial experience and mystery of the forest into the building.

Since its opening the Learning Center has been providing a consistent schedule of workshops and classes on a weekly basis, together with regular displays of performances and production for the families. On specific days, special events are also held during dusk, when the building acts like a soft lamp that supports activities around it.
The building is used in predicted but also unpredicted and playful ways. It can be experienced in many different circulation and use patterns, from traversing it while walking through the forest, to making playful radial paths between the central space and the perimeter classrooms, to enjoying quiet moments of learning in the library or interior courtyard.
Architecture became an internal extension of the forest, fostering discovery, and supporting planned and emerging learning experiences.

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