In a recent international call for ideas to regenerate the Aurifícia block in Oporto, Portugal, architects Pedro Bandeira and Pedro Nuno Rumalho figuratively and literally made a monumental statement in their proposal to dismantle and relocate the decommissioned D. Maria Pia Bridge into the city center. The defunct bridge is described as a work of art and potential landmark that will revitalize the cityscape of Oporto. Although the architects didn't place in the competition, their proposal still makes a forward statement by tossing out the traditional idea and function of a bridge and it also brings attention to the failure of urban regeneration policies.
Below is a more detailed project description written by and received from freelance architect and journalist Ana Laureano Alves:
"Two architects, Pedro Bandeira and Pedro Nuno Ramalho proposed the relocation of the Eiffel’s D. Maria Pia Bridge to the city center, exposing its actual uselessness (not in use since 1991) and drastically changing the skyline of Oporto. This proposal was a response for a call of ideas for the urban regeneration of the block Aurifícia in the city of Oporto, Portugal, promoted by the Portuguese Council of Architects. As it seems obvious, it did not win. If at a first glance, it looks like as an ironic proposal of nonsense humor, it has also a deeper meaning."
"This strong gesture would establish a particular identity of the city, unique, bizarre and appealing. It may seem absurd, but in some way it just reflects the absurd that the city already is: the decadent urban landscape that invites the tourists to photograph the building in ruins, abandoned warehouses and factories; a scenario that no urban regeneration policy was able to reverse.
Since 1991 the D. Maria Pia Bridge is not at use. With the two new bridges over the Douro River – the Infante Bridge and the S. João Bridge - it lost its scale and dignity; it is hidden and forgotten. By relocating it to the center of the city on a higher position, the bridge would regain visibility but mostly another meaning, since it is released of the need of being useful. The proposal rescues the beautiful expression “work-of-art” used in some languages by the engineers to refer to the construction of bridges. The originality of the solution would contribute, in a first moment, for increasing tourism and consequently the development of other services."
"Aside from that, it is more significant the boost of the city’s identity, nourishing the self-esteem of its inhabitants, the fundamental actors on the revitalization of the city. Astonishingly, the project would be easily executed, both in the constructive and in economical terms. The lattice girder structure of the bridge is light and easily disassembled. It would require around five months for the entire process of construction and a budget of less than 10 million of euros, eight times less than the costs of Koolhaas’ Casa da Música, located in the vicinity. As the Eiffel Tower, the relocated D. Maria Pia Bridge would have a significative impact, contributing for promoting the image of the city worldwide."
"The relocated D. Maria Pia Bridge would bring a new monumentality to the city. New, considering it is far from the classical sense of the expression, as of institutionalization of History. It is a transgressive monumentality that aims for its permanent actualization meaning, reflecting the present conscious of its fragility. The Bridge would be a monument of the deindustrialization, where the materiality of the 19th century gives place to the contemporary immateriality, where there is no space for a bridge that connects just two places. The bridge died, but it died standing, like a tree."
PROJECT NAME: Relocation of the D. Maria Pia Bridge
ARCHITECTS: Pedro Bandeira, Pedro Nuno Ramalho
STATUS: Proposal for the Call for Ideas International competition Norte 41º for the Urban regeneration of the Block Aurifícia.
LOCATION: Oporto, Portugal
AREA: Total area of the block: 90 000 m2
Foundations of the bridge: 490 m2
Annex services (from the factory Companhia Aurifícia): 1500 m2
Demolished area: 2400 m2
CLIENT: Portuguese Council of Architects / Norte 41° Project - Centre for Architecture, Creativity and Sustainability
IMAGES RIGHTS: © Bandeira/Ramalho