Community gathering spaces for indoor and outdoor use are central to the idea of shared land. As such, parks should be structured to maximize these benefits, though sometimes this comes at the cost of the surrounding landscape. However, the new Urban Park and Environmental Interpretation Center in construction for the Portuguese city of Oliveira de Azeméis offers over roughly 12 acres of public-use area designed with special consideration for the ecosystem. 

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A clearing within a park.

The project began with the winning bid submitted anonymously to the city. A design by Ad Quadratum Arquitectos earned the support of decision-makers for its comprehensive and holistic outline.

Related: French housing project “I Park” has a double-skinned green facade

A home with a terracotta-colored facade.

The first goal centers on creating a usable space for the community and its visitors. Citizens and tourists alike will enjoy the walkways and sitting areas scattered through the five hectares. Architects constructing the space aim to better the physical and mental health of the entire community. The outdoor arena will include a slide, tree-climbing structures, circuits and maintenance sports equipment, and rest areas, among many other recreational and leisure features.

A rendering of people milling around a bright, green park.

Additionally, the project will repurpose an existing building to minimize site impact. When complete, the building, coupled with the surrounding infrastructure, will house the park café and café concert terrace, along with the provision of areas for the Interpretative Center and Pedagogical Center. The building renovation in the area commonly referred to as “old” Quinta dos Borges will also include restaurant spaces. Indoors and out, the project promises energy efficiency and environmental neutrality.

A zipline over a pond in a park.

Lead architect José António Lopes insists on respecting the history, culture, and materials by lifting the building up to new uses, rather than tearing it down. In addition to the preservation of the building, the team stresses the need to protect the surrounding ecosystem. They will retain as much of the existing vegetation as possible and also introduce new specimens to round out a self-sustaining ecosystem for long term success.

+ Ad Quadratum Arquitectos

Images via Ad Quadratum Arquitectos