Porto has adopted the Sponge-City initiative, which means that the city is tackling climate change impact through a new urban model for construction that can both help the city alleviate water shortages and manage floods. The Parque Central da Asprela features a unique combination of circa 650 new trees and bushes planted and 10 thousand cubic meters of increased water retention capacity, alongside two open air water streams. Asprela Park began to be built in July 2020 and the estimate conclusion deadline is the first quarter of 2022. The project is led by the Municipality of Porto in an investment of 1.64 million euros.
Porto is aware of the fact that trees are not only a feast for the eyes but they also clean the air we breathe. The works at Asprela Park reveal a "new green lung" that will be implanted in the city landscape. The works include stream flow regulation, establishment of water storage basins and the creation of a dam, footbridges, and bike paths adapted to the individual needs of disabled persons or persons with reduced mobility, in a total area of 60 thousand square meters.
Mayor Rui Moreira and Vice-Mayor Filipe Araújo visited the site and saw, first hand, the place where soon there will be paving, turf and forestation.
This project is developed by the University of Porto, owner of the land where the park is to be built, leaving behind the neglected past of such fertile land, almost squeezed between the São João Hospital and the Asprela Campus. Later, the same soil would be entrenched by the Metro. The University of Porto, Porto Polytechnic, and the municipal company Águas do Porto, as representative of the Municipality and leader of the project of Parque Central da Asprela, gathered to create this new green space in the city.
Paulo Farinha Marques, landscape architect and coordinator of the multidisciplinary team of the U. Porto, led the way to the visit by the Mayor and explained that, following the land cleaning and deforestation, the priority is to see that the “stars of the park”: the Ribeira da Asprela and the Ribeira da Manga are cared for.
Concrete hydraulic parts are being assembled to control the strength of the water alongside the two streams. These paths will act as a basin, and whenever necessary they will serve as small dams. Also, water flows will be prevented from flooding the subsurface near the Metro and will be directed to the River Douro.
As a result, the future Parque Central da Asprela will deliver on sustainable development by creating a large capacity river basin. This means that the possibility of floods and inundations will be significantly reduced, beds and margins will be stabilized and soil permeability will be around 91%. Concurrently, the regularizing of the water surface of Ribeira da Asprela is assured, with an extension of 594 metres, as well as of other smaller streams, which will be decontaminated and rehabilitated.
The extension of these works are already unfolding in the park landscape, and the goal is that the park is organised as an alameda, with grove and water mirrors, pedestrian routes and bike paths, adapted to reduced mobility needs. All this linked by small wooden bridges and footbridges.
The severe February weather led to the slowdown of the works, but as the weather is improving so has improved the pace of the works.
Asprela Green Park in Porto is closer to increase community quality of life, as well, as the project is sought to consolidate the green local structure, particularly soil permeability, thus mitigating complications triggered by climate change, in line with what is stipulated in the next Land Use Municipal Plan.
The project works, led by the Municipality of Porto, will have an estimated duration of 570 days, in an investment of 1.64 million euros.