Population of Campanhã opens to the city the park they dreamed of and even planted

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Tiago and his classmates have no trouble planting the first trees - there will be more than a thousand - in the huge garden that, starting next July, they will have right next to their school, Falcão. They too, like the Campanhã community itself, have been able to think about and help build the future Alameda de Cartes Park, 40,000 square metres of open, leisure space, promoting smooth mobility.

As of today, pedestrian and cycling corridors, and a series of roads, allow for a more fluid circulation for those who go to the Falcão, Certo and Lagarteiro neighbourhoods, the Falcão School, Campo de Campanhã, the Cartes Swimming Pool or even the Olive Tree Garden.

'This is your garden', said the Mayor of Porto to all those who gathered this Tuesday morning for the opening of the first phase of the space. For Rui Moreira, this 'is a project that responds greatly to the wishes of the population and also to this soft mobility that we want, so that people can walk around the city freely'.

Looking over Campanhã 'for more than ten years', the Municipality chose this community to be part of the URBiNAT, the European project to build healthy corridors with the involvement of the people who make the spaces.

And once again, the response - and the ideas - came out strong. 'This is an example of partnership with the population that we truly want to praise. This is exactly what URBiNAT is all about: how population can help policy decision-makers decide. The city you want has to fit your ideas', the mayor emphasised.

This is an example of partnership with the population that we truly want to praise.

Ricardo Lopes, known in the area and in the hip hop community as 'Ricardinho', is one of the residents with an active voice in what is and will be the Alameda de Cartes Park. After several meetings with the City council, the school and the local population, 'together we managed to create this space and it's clear to everyone that it's going to be good for the community. It will be a large green area, a healthy corridor where people will feel comfortable coming for a walk, socialising after dropping their children off at school'.

Beyond the material, Ricardo Lopes underlines the importance of the immaterial and what the co-creation project has given birth to: 'a platform that will bring together all the history of the parish and its inhabitants, their memories, community initiatives and heritage'.

'This whole process has made us realise how we can work from now on. Let there be more projects with the community so that together we can do more things for the area', he asks.

100% of rainwater infiltrated, stored and distributed throughout the park

On top of all this, there is the visible (and not so visible) 'ecological relevance' and the 'huge environmental impact'. The architect responsible for the project ensures: 'It's a space where 100% of the rainwater is managed and infiltrated on site'. Innovation lies in being able to do it in a park with a steep slope.

It's a space where 100% of the rainwater is managed and infiltrated on site'.

With the construction of large impermeable areas, 'when it rains, both the green areas and the paved areas channel the water into micro-dams, which do some infiltration and retain the water for a while, and then distribute it', José Miguel Lameiras explains.

It is a continuous process: 'From there, water is routed to retention basins, with a draining profile, i.e., when it rains they infiltrate water, but they also have the capacity to store and infiltrate water underground'.

'The main aim is for that water to recharge the aquifers and, from then on, for us to have healthier groundwater levels, for trees to be able to fetch water and evapotranspire', the architect says. All in the name of the 'climate resilience of the city of Porto'.

The solution is already playing its part: José Miguel Lameiras admits that 'with the heavy rains we had [last week], we can already see the retention basins with water and the system distributing the water throughout the park, and it's being retained and infiltrated'.

In addition, the architect adds, 'the park has a number of fast-growing trees that will dominate the landscape in the first five to ten years and which are there to create the conditions for the planting of the slow-growing trees, the oaks, which will dominate the composition after 20 years. It's those trees that are going to be the great carbon fixers'.

A place to grow

'We now expect the park to grow, develop and be widely used. We absolutely need people to invade the park. It's fundamental. There's no better security than for us to be the ones who frequent the parks', the Mayor of Porto underlines.

Next door, the owner of the patisserie that serves the Alameda de Cartes Park recognises how different the area has become in recent years. 'It was a little empty and there was very little development', Vítor Pinheiro admits.

Today, with the investment in the school and the growth of the green space, he considers the result of the watchful eye 'an asset for the people in the area, because they have more spaces to spend their time at, it's good for children and the elderly'.

Under the responsibility of GO Porto and with a municipal investment of 2.2 million euros, the Alameda de Cartes Park is being developed as part of URBiNAT (Urban Innovative & Inclusive Nature - Healthy Corridor as drivers of housing neighbourhoods for the co-creation of social, environmental and marketable NBS) and has European funding from the Horizon 2020 programme.