Porto Brandao, Portugal
The Open Workshop + RICA Studio
Neeraj Bhatia, Lorena Del Rio, Carly Dean, Alicia Hergenroeder, Jonathan Negron, De Peter Yi, Wei Zhao
Porto Brandão is a picturesque coastal town that is opportunistically located within industrial routes of the Tejo River, producing a city of competiting identities. One of the difficulties in a comprehensive planning strategy in Porto Brandão is not just this tension between scales of industry but also the complex topography that has naturally caused a polynuclear distribution of built form. Instead of an approach of unification, this proposal adopts of strategy of first disconnecting these islands only to reconnect them in a precise manner. The act of disconnection, allows each of these islands to realize its ‘almost’ project into an ideal state. After the act of disconnection, two systems of reconnecting the islands are employed. The first, overlays a cable car network to create a comprehensive method of moving through the city and its complex surface terrain. The second mechanism of connection involves the existing series of fragmented paths through the city. The structural towers operate as programmatic condensers that provide both an identity to each individual island, and as a collective, provide a new identity to the pluralistic city. As an aggregation, the gondola network structures the city through a territorial constellation. The stars in this constellation can be read in different ways, forming a series of figures, with an overall figure of the Portuguese “Sardinha” which is always visible from the sky — providing a legible mental and physical framework to reorient the subject. New nodes can be added to the city in time, with an acknowledgement of the city’s polynuclear structure due to topography and competing identities.