Guaiba River Waterfront Park
The Guaiba Waterfront Urban Park is a 1.5 kilometre intervention in the city of Porto Alegre, the largest metropolis in southern Brazil with a population of 4.3 million. Designed by Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados, the park connects Guaiba waterfront with the surrounding urban fabric, with access to pedestrians and bikers, metro, bus and cars. The Park is a local government initiative and it importantly reunites the city and the population with what can be considered its most precious landscape
The project brings to life an infill area that was created to be part of the flood control system of Porto Alegre. Because of these construction works, the riparian environment was adversely affected. In addition, the absence of engaging activities at the site and its limited accessibility added to its atmosphere of abandonment.
Therefore, the Waterfront Park was conceived to address this set of issues, namely the recuperation of the natural environment; the enlargement of the public spaces network; the valorisation of the landscape; and the strengthening of the ties between the core of the metropolis and its population.
The project sought to reintroduce the native species of this environment, conducing to its recuperation. The native remaining vegetation was left undisturbed and the architectural features accommodated themselves around it, including a promenade for the observation of aquatic plants.
As a regeneration project and adjacent to the downtown area, it also provides necessary elements to re-energize the city centre through the increased tourism appeal of the area, including a deck for water transport vessels and regional excursions; a 24-hours restaurant; and a plethora of small cafes, pubs and other entertainment activities. It is an integrating project, bridging several elements of the built and natural environment that exist in the surrounding area, along with new features, allowing people to gather and enjoy this new shared space in Porto Alegre. All the additional necessary infrastructure to address the visitor’s needs are present in the park, such as sports facilities, biking and pedestrian pathways, sanitary installations, seating areas, scenic lightening, viewing bleachers, and so on.
The architectural qualities of the project are connected to the natural way by which it inserts itself in the landscape, taking advantage of the area’s topography to accommodate the necessary infrastructures and to create belvederes to contemplate the surrounding scenery. The materials used by Jaime Lerner Arquitetos Associados are concrete, steel, wood and glass in natural colours, so to enhance natural sunlight. The curved shapes relate to the movement of the waters, unfolding gently along the terrain. They take advantage of the plasticity of the concrete to generate only essential forms. The stairways that run along the project provide the perfect seating area for the glorious sunset of the Guaiba Bay Area
Finally, by recuperating a degraded space in Porto Alegre the waterfront park increases the sense of belonging for the people of the city, and demonstrates the care of the city for its heritage and its people. By the intelligent use of architecture, landscaping and light design, Porto Alegre how the “marriage” of manmade interventions and nature can have a positive impact on both. It is the physical and symbolic re-encounter of Porto Alegre and its waters, creating a vibrant and sustainable address.