Architecture competition, 2015
In collaboration with:
The objective of the competition was to redefine the relationship between the city of Porto in Portugal and its river, Rio Douro. The participants were invited to design a structure that would host cultural and other activities, while allowing citizens to swim in the river in appropriately shaped "urban pools".
The primary elements that we introduce in the landscape of Rio Douro are three aquarium-like, rectangular shaped glass tanks, filled with water pumped directly from the river after being filtered and cleaned. The upper surface of each tank forms an urban pool, situated higher than the street level in order to provide isolation from the street noise and disturbance.
Public spaces that are required by the competition’s needs are conceived as “voids” inside the mass of the tanks. This is expressed by creating free-form shaped spaces inspired by pebbles or water bubbles.
The “pebbles” are conceived as semi-transparent, allowing shadows of the people that swim on the upper level to be visible from beneath. The glass facades of the water tanks themselves revoke an aquarium, enlarged to match the human scale. Filling the water tanks creates “islands” on the surface of the water, artificial beaches for the users of the pools. The islands are accessible through the upper level of the pebbles, using stairs and elevators for the disabled. Entering the pebbles from the street level is possible through bridges that connect the former to the latter.
Structurally, the whole system is founded onto the river bottom. Mechanical equipment for the pools (pumps and filtering for the water) could be placed under the last slab of each of the pebbles.