Over the last 20 years, we have been present in several projects throughout the classified historic center of the city, where we were also born and where we are based. These projects refer to constructions carried out in the historic center of Viana do Castelo, a portion of land wedged between the railway line to the east, the river Lima to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the hill of Sta. Luzia to the north. Together, they add up to a total of around 50 projects completed and under construction. This number compared to the size of this area of the city is an indicator of the influence that our work has on its image. Some of them were even structuring and important for its consolidation and urban transformation, such as the opening of two new streets in the eastern part of its centre. Hotels, new and rehabilitated multi-family residential buildings, single-family homes, pharmacy, restaurants, nursing home and a museum are examples of some of our buildings, which are present in the city streets, contributing to the definition of the image of the urban environment that provides .
This urban center is made up of two parishes (Sta Maria Maior and Monserrate), has an urban structure of medieval origin, with streets mostly parallel to the river Lima, with which it relates, favoring the east-west axis. This well-established centre, hosts several interventions of our own, which over the last few years we have been recovering, rehabilitating and transforming. Viana do Castelo is a daily case study for us. Thinking about the city where we were born, live and work is a constant. Care in interventions, especially in the rehabilitation of buildings with history, is part of our DNA. It’s good to walk through the small and tight streets of this center and easily identify the works of this office.
We are aware that in the 21st century, maintaining an image of the city based only on buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries should not be an obstacle to urban evolution and development. Therefore, we believe that buildings should reflect their time, and that contemporary solutions, such as some that we have developed, are fundamental for the city’s historical evolution and its dating in time space.
In the classified historic center, many of the existing buildings are small and incapable of hosting simple programs, such as a T3 housing. For this reason, we consider it important to find solutions that allow the rehabilitation of these buildings, maintaining their historic identity, but allowing their reuse through the possibility of joining parcels. In this area, in addition to the churches and other historic monuments, there are some buildings of greater size and scale that are naturally being adapted to more demanding programs such as hotels, museums, etc.
In conclusion, our presence in the city has been important for its transformation and preservation. We will continue to work on projects that contribute to its urban evolution and the preservation of its historical identity with the sense of responsibility that characterizes us.
At this moment, it is important for us to understand how the historic center of Viana do Castelo will be structured in its continuity and extension to the outskirts. We understand that the existing guidance plans for regularizing the size of the urban network, which are more than 30 years old, are no longer effective. In this area of the city, the urban structure is created freely, depending on the private interventions that take place there. We are very interested in this transition area, which serves as a hinge between the high-density area and the medium and low-density areas. We are also interested in how these will be able to stitch together and connect the two banks of the Lima River in the future, to provide the necessary territorial cohesion. Only in this way will be obtained a urban structure that guarantees its inhabitants better organization, better mobility, better links and connections between the two banks, as well as the functional characterization of the different areas/parishes that make up the urban tissue of the city.
We are concerned with the need for thoughtful and sustained growth in the city, through a design that provides for a closer relationship between the areas located on the right bank of the Lima River and its left bank. It is important to understand how in the future this area will extend and integrate with the urban structure on the other bank of the river and how this will guarantee a more cohesive territory, as only in this way will we have an area of the city with conditions for its expansion to the south. It is essential that the urban structure of the parish of Darque provides its inhabitants with a better urban environment and a better quality of life. In 2018, we proposed a pedestrian connection between the two banks. We recognize that, at present, the pedestrian bridge is no longer sufficient to cover connection needs. We do think that it is crucial to implement a new crossing upstream of the Eiffel Bridge with a platform at the level of the Eiffel Bridge train line, for cars and pedestrians. Thus, we could transform the upper deck of the “old” bridge into a pedestrian connection and cycle path, thus reinforcing its status as a monument. This upper deck could function as a connecting space between the banks for tourist and leisure use.
Still regarding the extension to the urban parishes located to the north (Areosa) and to the east of the center, (Meadela), due to topographic conditions, and volume of built area, we understand that they only have room for consolidation and little room for expansion. In a broader view, the center functions as a unifying element for the municipality’s parishes, concentrating the most important public and private services within the CBD (central business district) logic. We reinforce the idea of the need to create connecting sections between the parishes in a more local logic and their connection to the center, (some foreseen in the Viana do Castelo PDM since it was implemented). The E.N.13 and the railway line are two examples of urban structures that fracture the continuity of the city, and that sooner or later will have to have a solution. We have some ideas and solutions for these problems, which need to be shared and thought about if you ask us to do so.