Herzog & de Meuron

Blade Cutting Through The Sky Of Porto

A new bridge for Porto. Amid great historical bridges and works of architecture. Imitating and contextual? No: Abstract and sharp like a blade. Cutting and reflecting the sky of the city. A minimal gesture. Offering openness for various perceptions and inviting all not only to walk from one side to the other but also to hang out, to spend time, to inhabit the bridge like a piece of city.

The bridge will be one of the most visible elements in the city. A beam shaped to accommodate the structural forces, but not a purely structural expression. It has a reflective surface, a protection layer increasing the durability of the concrete, and at the same time enhancing the perceived sharpness of the volume. It reflects the sky, the water and the blurred urban surroundings. Its appearance changes depending on weather and time of the day.
Situated between the Arrábida Bridge and the Dom Luís Bridge, two architectural icons of Porto, the new bridge deliberately takes a new direction. It expresses a new city, new dynamics and the changing way people use public space and move from one place to another. The bridge not just connects both riversides, its structure can be programmed in various ways and in different areas, offering new possibilities and activities for the people of Porto and Vila Nova da Gaia.

A Terrace overlooking the City
At the Via Panorâmica on Porto side, a generous stair connects up to the new ‘Terraço Panorâmico’ with an outstanding view towards the historical center in the East, and the ocean in the West with panoramic sunset views in the evening.
This platform could accommodate a Multipurpose Hall for public exhibitions and presentations of projects of the Architectural Faculty. The stair linking up to this terrace widens up generously at its lower end towards the entrance of the Architectural Faculty, allowing for outdoor lectures, open-air cinema screenings or just offering a generous sitting area.

A Plaza opening up towards Douro River
A new urban plaza is created along the riverfront, where the main piers are located in place of a current gas station. While carrying the bridge, those piers at the same time hold a thin roof, creating an intimate space below, an urban square that can be used as a marketplace, for small concerts or as a shared outdoor space for cafés and bars.
A Stair connecting Gaia and to its riverside
The bridge also offers a new, prominent link for pedestrians between the Arrábida shopping mall and the riverfront. Right above the shoreline, this stair branches from the bridge deck, wrapping around the secondary piers and widening up with a perfect view towards the historic center of Porto, right above the trees, offering a new place for small gatherings.

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Process

The University Campus is understood as a large park developed parallel to the river’s slope. With the new bridge a new viewpoint ‘Terraço Panorâmico’ is added to this park with visual connections towards the Ocean and the historic center. This platform could accommodate a Multipurpose Hall for exhibitions, events, presentations of projects of the Architectural Faculty and for public discussions. The stair linking up to this terrace widens up generously at its lower end towards the entrance of the Architectural Faculty, allowing for outdoor lectures, open-air cinema screenings or just offering a generous sitting area. The bridge will gently touch the terrain occupied by a parking lot of the Architecture School. It merges with the topography and continues the existing footpaths. The staircase coming from the bridge deck connects with a granite cobbled surface that extends the materiality of Rua do Gólgota to the Faculty of Architecture. It unifies these areas with a continuous pavement.

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A new urban plaza is created along the riverfront, where the main piers are located in place of a current gas station. While carrying the bridge, those piers at the same time hold a thin roof, creating an intimate space below, an urban square that can be used as a marketplace, for small concerts or as a shared outdoor space for cafés and bars.

The pocket plaza is characterized by lush vertical green walls covering the adjacent buildings elevations and low walls, complemented by several freestanding trees punctuating the granite cobblestone hardscape. In the centre of this new urban space, a thin reflective canopy suspended from the bridge piers will mirror the green enclosure and the Douro waters while providing shadow to the people waiting at the tram stop. At night the roof will act as a reflector of all light sources mirroring these over the public plaza.

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On Gaia side the bridge offers a new, prominent link for pedestrians between the Arrábida Shopping Mall and the riverfront. Right above the shoreline, close to the bridge’s arrival at the future Arrábida metro station, a staircase descends in the emblematic eucalyptus forest that covers the steep slope. Wrapping around the secondary piers and widening up with a perfect view towards the historic center of Porto, offering a new place for small gatherings. After touching the ground, the path started by the stairs is continued by an undulating walkway between urban gardens, leading to the riverfront. The proposed stair allows for a new pedestrian loop along the Douro River, to Dom Luís bridge and back. A new opportunity for runners or simply a pleasant Sunday walk.

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Drawings

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Team

Project Team

Facts

Client
Metro do Porto, Porto, Portugal
Planning
Design Consultant : Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd, Basel, Switzerland
General Planning: ​STRENG, Engenharia de Estruturas Lda, Matosinhos, Portugal
Structural Engineering: Carlos Fernandez Casado S.L, Madrid, Spain
Executive Architect : Adriano Pimenta Arquitetos, Porto, Portugal
Building Data
Length: 1'345 ft, 410 m
Width: 49 ft, 15 m