The making of Portuguese cowbells is related to the shepherding of livestock across the Iberian drover roads, and is a trade that has been passed down for thousands of years. Today, there are only thirteen cowbell makers left in all of Portugal, nine of whom are over the age of 70.
This thesis is an architectural approach to safeguarding the dying art of cowbell making in Portugal, by introducing a Unesco Heritage Center in the small village of Alcaçovas. The project provides a workshop, learning center, exhibition, and housing as a way of bringing together tourists and the larger community of cowbell makers from around the world, with the intention of providing a market which allows for the training of new generations of cowbell makers.
The project is conceived as a playful architectural translation of the craft, both in its material qualities and process. The building is carefully set into a block at the northern edge of Alcaçovas, adjacent to a 13th century catholic church. It simultaneously creates a new urban corner in the city while reaching out into the vast surrounding landscapes, where cowbells can be heard ringing in the distance.