The work was an old ambition of the city, but never before realized. It is now completed, in a joint effort by Porto City Hall, University of Porto (U.Porto) and the Polytechnic Institute of Porto (P.Porto), for the installation of an urban park of excellence on the university campus of Asprela.
There are six hectares of carefully designed landscape, with water mirrors, 900 planted arboreal elements, more than 700 preserved arboreal elements, streams and more than two kilometers of pedestrian and cycle paths accessible to people with reduced mobility.
The inauguration was attended by the Minister of the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, the rector of U.Porto, António de Sousa Pereira, the president of P.Porto, João Rocha, in addition to members of the council and the president of the Municipal Assembly, Sebastião Feyo de Azevedo. Everyone could appreciate the added value of the park, designed by landscape architect Paulo Farinha Marques.
The new “green lung” presents itself as a point of connection for the entire university campus of Asprela, uniting several colleges of the U.Porto and institutes of P.Porto, in addition to the surrounding residential area. “It exists and today it becomes a reality resulting from a joint and ambitious vision on the part of three important institutions in Porto”, highlighted the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira, for whom “this is a clear sign that it is possible to work together for the benefit of different demographics and with the certainty that the end result is better than the individual sum of its parts”.
Rui Moreira recalled that “this Municipal Executive has been investing, since the beginning, in the expansion and rehabilitation of the city’s green areas, creating more green spaces for public enjoyment, a need that we always feel from the Porto inhabitants, but which has gained new contours and visibility due to the periods of forced lockdown that we have all recently lived”.
Thus, in addition to the newly opened Asprela Park, the Municipality is finishing the west end of the City Park, with an intervention in about 10 hectares, which will also conclude a work designed decades ago; is currently rehabilitating and expanding S. Roque Park, in an area of approximately two hectares, and, almost finalized, there is the Terminal Intermodal de Campanhã, inserted in an urban garden that will create comfort and well-being in an area that has always been forgotten. Very soon, the Alameda de Cartes Park project will also be launched rehabilitating four hectares and creating a long-awaited park.
“I believe this is the path we should all take. A vital path towards a more sustainable city that we want to be better for the new generations. A Porto that, beyond the granite gray that characterizes it, is also starting to be increasingly green”, added Rui Moreira, not forgetting, however, to regret that there is still a fence dividing the Asprela Central Park from the Sports College. “The campus should, in principle, be an open space. Maybe one day they won’t need fences”, he stressed.
“There will be more life around this space”
“This park is in a perfect location. The campus lacked this component, which results in a magnificent design and appreciation of this stream. There will be a lot more life around this space”, underlined the Minister of the Environment, not without leaving a heads up: “This was done for there to be floods. Because this is a floodplain, where a stream flows”.
The park uses Nature Based Solutions, allowing, in periods of heavy rain, the space to become a large retention bin, with a capacity for 10 thousand cubic meters of rainwater. Thus, it will be possible to prevent flooding, particularly on the subway line. At the same time, the flood control of Ribeira da Asprela is guaranteed, with a total length of 594 meters.
For the rector of the U.Porto, this is a space that “promotes the urban, environmental and landscape quality of the city. The park fulfills all its purposes, fully serving the city and its Higher Education institutions. Asprela sees its core renewed, now with a better quality of life and, therefore, with a greater capacity to attract new residents, services and commerce”, underlined António de Sousa Pereira.
The president of P.Porto also pointed out the importance and involvement of the institutions that created the city’s new “green lung”. “When we work together it is possible to do more and better. Here is a good example of that. From a degraded area, with some safety issues, we created a solution that allows for the practice of sports and leisure activities, with better safety conditions for all who work and live here”, said João Rocha.
The intervention, with an investment of close to 1,6 million euros, was partially financed by the Environmental Fund of the Ministry of the Environment, which granted one million euros, under the heading “Adaptation to Climate Change - Water Resources". The Municipal company Águas e Energia do Porto made available 519 thousand euros for the project.
In the morning of the inauguration, the Asprela Central Park registered a high turnout of people who wanted to know the green space or who took the opportunity to practise sports. With the support of the municipal company Ágora – Cultura e Desporto do Porto, three free of charge activities were held: a self-defense class, a walk within the scope of “Domingos em Forma” (“Fit Sundays”) program and a yoga session (DeRose method). Águas e Energia do Porto were also present in the park, promoting its most precious asset – water – giving it to passersby, and, likewise, the municipal company Porto Ambiente promoted its brand with the visitors.
The park is also associated with the name of Professor António Cardoso, vice-rector of the U.Porto responsible for Building Heritage and Sustainability (Património Edificado e Sustentabilidade), recently deceased, through a commemoration plaque, unveiled today, also in the presence of family members and many Academy faculty.