Palafita Park, Brazil 2013

Palafita is a research project questioning the privatization of the public spaces in Brazilian cities. The project is a reflection of a one week workshop in collaboration with PROPAR/ UFRGS (Programa de Pós Graduação em Arquitetura UFRGS- Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil). The workshop functioned as an arena for discussions to enable Procter-Rihl to develop a design proposal for the site. 

The 53,000 m2 area reflects a typical city strategy of continual landfill extension into the river bed.  The area was originally riverbed until 1949 when the “Shipyard So” transferred to this peninsula after the massive flood of  that year which raised water levels above 4.5 metres in Porto Alegre. In 1974, the production reached 170 boats with 1500 employees. In 1995, the shipyard went into bankruptcy due to the lack of fiscal incentives and low market demand. There are remains of the shipyard on site with the old pier. Today, the site has a prominent position as it sits between the longest park in the city and a new urban development area with shopping malls, large residential blocks, a race course, sailing clubs, and a new super sewage station.  

The design tackles future environmental concerns, such as the rise of water levels in our rivers through architectural expression. The park accepts and embraces future river level rises by proposing light weight mobile, pre-fab constructions or by raising centain programmes above river levels. The ground is left native and untouched. The proposal suggests a new park typology where production and leisure are woven together, environmental factory meeting leisure programmes. Three key “production” programmes (tree nursery, fish hatcheries, water treatment ponds) becomes accessible to the city woven with leisure programmes (floating promenade and floating pods for pop-up events and non pre-determined activities.

Production Programmmes 

– Tree Nursery – to supply the city with native species and distribute them to the general public to promote the importance of diversity of local species.

– Fish Hatchery – to produce native species and feed them back into the river.

– Water Filtering Ponds – a proposal of a series of filtering ponds with reeds to absorb pollution filtering the water in a passive manner. The ponds sit at different heights to encourage oxygenation of the water from the river above. The ponds aim to treat the water effluents with a series of filtering pools and “Aguapes” plants.  “Aguapes” are plants originally from the Amazon that are able to filter water.  They absorb and accumulate pollution filtering the water in a passive manner. 

Leisure Programmes

 – Pedestrian Promenade /Floating Platforms – The pedestrian route starts from the white concrete Ibere Camargo Museum (Alvaro Siza architect) as an intertwined double route. When it reaches its central area it starts to generate a concentric journey suggesting a wander around a “virtual square”. The pedestrian routes float around 2m to 3m above the ground in the flood zone. 

– Floating Programmes / POP up events / non pre-determined activities – The floating platforms can anchor to specific areas in the site. They have the dual function of a floating hatchery for distribution of new stocks in the river Guaiba but also can host pop up events and other leisure activities during the year.  

– Cycle lanes – An extension of the park cycle lanes to connect with the new development on the south of the park.The cycle lanes have an independent route but occasionally meet the pedestrian walkways.

The project is a homage to Jose Lutzemberger, the first internationally known Brazilian environmentalist. Sustainable programmes are made visible to the general public and woven together with leisure to become a strong symbol for the city.