Toy Museum and Public Library - Overhead view of the city and proposal

Toy Museum and Public Library

Torres Vedras, Portugal

This concept for a new Public Library and Toy Museum for the city of Torres Vedras was a response to an open public competition. The proposed location for this public building is quite central within the city, being directly adjacent to one of its main commercial streets, as well as a number of notable local landmarks, including the Santiago Church, which immediately borders the site. This location itself grants the project great relevance within the urban context, with the potential to occupy what is currently an urban void and connect the traditional medieval part of the city to the North with its more modern areas to the South.

Inspired by the famous Plan of Rome (1748) by Giambattista Nolli, which notably identified all collective use buildings accessible to the citizens of the city as part of its public space, on par with its streets, squares and other outdoor spaces, the central concept for this proposal became the idea to “give space” to the city and its inhabitants.

In this manner, the Library and Museum are designed fundamentally as part of the city, as opposed to a singular iconic object with an easily identifiable form. The available plot is occupied in its entirety, with a new indoor street and small square opened along its interior, connecting two existing streets. The scale and proportion of the new buildings and street are based on the surrounding environment, with the intention of fully integrating this new path as a part, not only of the city, but of its inhabitants’ daily routine. While this layout effectively divides the proposed occupation into two separate buildings, the street itself becomes a focal point for these activities, creating diverse spaces for reading, seeing, learning and for simply passing by.

The ground floor is divided into two blocks, with the southern block devoted to the library’s main entrance, as well as technical and support areas, such as archives, work areas, staff and technical areas, etc., while the northern block is dedicated to the Toy Museum, with exhibition rooms, projection room, storage and staff offices. Apart from these main blocks, several public areas are directly accessible from the indoor street, including an auditorium, cafeteria and workshop rooms, along with access to public underground parking.

The upper floor holds the library’s main reading rooms and activity areas, divided into adults’ library on the southern block and children’s library in the northern block, with the two interconnected by a light suspended walkway.

To provide uniform natural lighting along all library spaces, the reading rooms are closed off to the outside, opening only into the interior street while light is brought in through several north-facing skylights along the roof. This light is further filtered by a perforated ceiling composed of light, pre-moulded concrete panels, which provides a neutral, continuous surface. Windows to the outside are opened only in specific situations, to frame certain views and highlight particular areas.

More than an iconic building, this proposal for the Torres Vedras Public Library looks to highlight the idea that architecture should be in service of the concept of city and its use, contributing to its structure and enriching its offer of quality public spaces.


Municipality of Torres Vedras


Competition proposal

Project date


Construction date


Construction area

7.455 m2

Brighton Implant Clinic - View of the reception and waiting area



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