The transformation of the waterfront of Porto Alegre (Brazil) has three main objectives: to restore the direct and human relation between the Guaiba river and the city, to renovate the heritage and the collective memory, and to create a new urban landmark.
The tragic episode of the flooding of the city when the river Guaiba overflowed in 1941 required the construction of a three-metre-high retaining wall located parallel to the riverbank which still separates the river and the city nowadays. Moreover, the Mauá avenue withstands the great deal of traffic N-S of the city centre. A railway goes parallel through it. The project responds to the challenge of giving solutions to the physical, visual and psychological barriers of the wall, the highway and the railway without getting rid of them.
The project is articulated in three well-differentiated sectors:
The platforms built in 1920 are restored in order to give them public and private use. The powerful image of the sloping covers of the port platforms is regularly repeated for more than one kilometre over the wharf, being part of the identity heritage of the city. The project recovers its former volumetry by demolishing the added buildings between the platforms and restoring the remaining warehouses as commercial, administrative and equipment buildings. The exterior area is extended towards the river with a new design of the dock through floating platforms holding different outdoor activities such as the traditional book fair.
It is the incorporation of what is known as the Gasometer building, an old power station now turned into a multi-purpose space of public cultural nature, in an environment in which trade and leisure activities will prevail. Structurally, it benefits from the existing smooth topography in order to link Brigadeiro Sampaio square, burying underground part of the Joao Goulart avenue and linking the city through a green area that finishes as a terrace over the river. Its smooth outline represents the current irregular edge in the area. At the same time, it restores the existing dock pouring water almost literally inside the retail area.
The project designs the restoration of obsolete old spaces into new buildings for business and leisure activities. The area will house a conference centre, offices, retail premises and a hotel consisting of several high buildings. As for its shape, it presents the typical design of the angular shape of the existing docks, responding to an analysed balance of the appropriate orientations regarding solar protection and the main views. The triangular floor shape of these buildings give an unconventional image, without resorting to eccentric or excessively sophisticated actions. The resulting image stresses the perception of the corners and the obliqueness, with the consequent styling of the volumes.
Aiming to mitigate the current shortage of parking spaces and to humanise the surroundings, both sides will house large car parks. Furthermore, roads at the waterfront area will turn into pedestrian areas of more than 2.5 km long, and public and river transport will make a comeback.