Foz do Douro, an upscale neighborhood in Porto where the Douro meets the Atlantic, is the location of the dam built by the Portuguese Carlos Prata. The structure, besides containing the sea to ensure navigation on the river, supposes an opportunity to generate a public space that goes 600m into the sea. The concrete construction design is determined by the natural conditions of the site, combined with the urban context. The breakwater goes into the sea with a boardwalk, an indoor gallery to access to the lighthouse on stormy days, and a space designed to be a restaurant.
The opportunity to host this public space arises from the need to ensure the security of navigation in the entrance of the Douro River. The architect´s goal was to find the right balance between the necessary concrete structures and natural and urban landscapes.
Traditionally, this would be a marine engineering project realized and studied from a very specifical perspective, and never with the urban reasons in mind, as it really is in this case. Therefore, this is an extraordinary and unique project where problems of protection and coastal shipping are viewed from a global and multidisciplinary perspective.
The design extends over 600 meters into the Atlantic. Along its length, various “architectural events” take place. These situations define a long corridor, some kind of pedestrian route, enriching and qualifying its public character, enhancing the enjoyment of new vistas to the coast and the city.
Below this upper route, without visual impact, it is hosted a public space designed to operate as a restaurant and an indoor gallery to access the lighthouse on stormy days.
The best way to understand the quality of a public space is by proving its success in promoting urban-life quality and paying attention to the critical evaluation of its users. In this way, Molhes do Douro has become a total sensation since it´s inauguration in 2007. Public users enjoy this new space as expected, and also they have re-invented new ways to use it. It is a space that has become a landmark of the city.
Architects: Carlos Prata Architect
Location: Porto, Portugal
Architects: Carlos Prata, Silveira Ramos Project
Photographs: João Ferrand
Project Area: 9000.0 m2
Contributors: Rodrigo Coelho, Filipa Pinto Basto, Carlos Sousa Pereira