This public space project has presented a set of simplified elements, all expressed and embedded at the ground level, privileging the relationship with the monastery (visual and volumetric). The design was the result of the usual walking and crossing patterns between the surrounding places and streets (maintaining the crossing flows but also creating opportunities to stop). In the center an empty space (the public square) was created through an oval shape with a larger and a closer area, providing different appropriations and usage of space. Additionally, to avoid specific urban furniture and its consequent rigid use and place definition, the entire perimeter was made by using a continuous concrete bench. This allows people to sit anywhere they wish, facing the square or the green areas, and the 80cm width of the bench enable people to lie down or stretch their arms back.
The monument to the soldiers of Portuguese Colonial War was integrated in the design of the square by using two elements: 1. In the pavement the scaled borders of the countries involved, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, were designed and cut out; 2. A corten steel plate runs diagonally along the square with all the collected soldier numbers carved on it. The numbers are ordered according to date following the war until it reaches its end, in 1974.
This approach liberates the square space. The monument is visible, but detached from its rigidity and authoritative presence. No physical boundary or hierarchy was established between the public space and the monument. It is at the same time a place to play, a place to sit, a place to pass by and a place of memory.
Landscape/Garden: It was pretended to extend the green area from the monastery. This was achieved by using mostly autochthonous species of the north of Portugal distributed over a meadow. The implemented species included: Acer monspessalanum, Arbutus unedo, Corylus avellana, Crataegus monogyna, Erica arborea, Erica carnea, Myrtus communis, Prunos cerasifera, Prunus lusitanica, Phillyrea angustifolia, Quercus robur, Rhamnus alaternus, Taxus baccata, and Thymus vulgaris.
Team: Miguel Costa + Meireles de Pinho
in collaboration with: Joana Magalhães
Location: Pedroso VNG, Portugal