São Domingos Mine Museum
São Domingos Mine Museum
Architecture + Photography + Graphic Design + Industrial Archeology
The São Domingos Mine is located on the South of Portugal, at Beja (Alentejo). This project pretended to develop not only an architectonic solution for a Mining Museum about São Domingos Mine, its history and its population, but also to develop some research about this spectacular place.

The whole project was composed of an architecture project, a small brochure about the Mine, and an exhibition showcasing all the work done and promoting this kind of archaeological heritage.
Both of the parts - the practical one, with the project, and the theoretical one, with the research - were developed in parallel, allowing the whole project to be more aware
of the mining past of this place.
The whole project comprises different artistic and social areas, namely Industrial Archeology, Architecture, Photography, Graphic Design and Etnography.
The São Domingos Mine is located in Beja, near the town of Mértola and extends itself over an extension of 18 kilometers. Its location near the Guadiana river allowed the fast transport of ore to England, by boat. During the 19th and 20th centuries it was one of the most important mines of the Iberian Peninsula; the first mining pit was open in 1854 by Nicolau Biava, and in 1855 the La Sabina Mining Company is created. James Mason, an important engineer on this process, creates the mining company Mason & Barry and promotes the exploration of the São Domingos Mine. The minig pits go down to a maximum depth of 420 meters and on the 25th April 1968 the company declares bankruptcy.
From this moment, most of the machines were sent to England and those who remained, were sold as scrap. The only thing that survived until now are the buildings, currently already in a condition of great deterioration. A great open air pit, near the entry of the mine, was also abandoned and today is filled with water.
São Domingos Mine Structures and Zones
 Photography project
 Engine House
Mining Tunnels
Open pit
Train Workshops
Water Extraction Pit
 Decantation Tanks
Moitinha Crushing Plant
 3km away from the mine center
 Achada do Gamo Sulphur Production Plant
  5km away from the mine center
 North Sector
 Acid Lake
South Sector
Informative booklet
Graphic design
 Architecture Project
The museologic renewal of the mining space is located across three different cores - the first one is the main museum building, built from scratch in an empty space at the mine entrace, the second one are exhibition rooms built inside the ruined buildings of the Engine House and the Train Workshop, and connected to the main building by a bridge. Lastly, the third zone is the rest of the São Domingos mine, where an open air pedestrian route goes through all the main attractions, allowing people to have a nice day at the mine, walking around. This route is equipped with several modules, from benches to bicycle parkings and lunch tables.
Zone 1/2 : Museum and Old Buildings

The new museum building is the most important one, as it stands out for its proportions. Despite its size, it tries to be integrated in the mining context by its old wood exterior covering and the whole volumetry. Due to the hot climate on Summer and cold weather on Winter, the new building has few openings and windows.
On the inside, there is a café, a souvenir shop, an auditorium, a library dedicated to mining industry and to São Domingos history, and finnaly the exhibition spaces. This way, it serves not only as a museum for the mine but also as a cultural center for the small village of São Domingos.
In relation to the old buildings, the refurbishment pretended to be more discrete, keeping the original design of the buildings, by applying only a floor at the middle of the entire height, allowing on the top exhibition rooms and on the bottom just a walking path near the ground full of plants and small bushes, as currently it is. The ceiling is made of glass to minimize the visual impact but can be covered by the outside by a white fabric that reflects the sun light and minimizes heating.
The main materials used in any of the new and old buildings are old wood in the outside, light wood inside, and industrial materials occasionally on the inside, like concrete and corten steel.
Main direction of entrance
Main museum building volume
Auditorium wing
Library and parking wing
Main volume folding to adapt to the old buildings (in yellow)
Extension of the main volume
Bridge connection to the old buildings
Building massing
.Yellow - auditorium and museum entrance
.Red - exhibition rooms and library
.Brown (on the left) - parking
.Brown (on the right) - auditorium (partly underground)
Auditorium entrance stair
Zone 3 : Pedestrian route

This pedestrian route runs across more or less 8 kilometer parallel to a small river and to the mine's railway track.
Along its way, there are four modules that appear occasionally, depending on the needs of each space. A covered bench, a toilet module and a bicycle parking provide support for the visitor, and in special landscape zones there are also small lunch tables, so that people can enjoy a picnic at the São Domingos Mine
. The modules can be grouped together.
Each of the three first modules is projected from a 3 x 6 x 2,9 meter prism that is changed according to the several needs. The materials are the same used in the museum - concrete, wood and corten steel.
Lunch tables
Toilet module
Bicycle parking module
São Domingos Mine Museum

São Domingos Mine Museum

The São Domingos Mine is located on the South of Portugal, at Beja (Alentejo). This project involved the development of an architectonic solution Read More


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