The CAMINHO DA CIDADE establishes a 23km long pedestrian and cycle route that, utilizing existing paths, shapes a circular path that runs the entirety of the landscape in which the city of Guimarães is set. It is understood as a tool to comprehend the landscape, to promote public access to it and to re-establish a relationship between the historic city and its territorial framework.
The CAMINHO DA CIDADE is an initiative that promotes new models of sustainable development and collaborative practices. The development of the project as a collaborative endeavour, involving residents, local associations, the administration and international cooperation, promotes the construction of a landscape as a plural experience.
CITY AS TERRITORY
The starting point of the project is the idea of CITY AS TERRITORY, understanding historical cities as part of the territory, avoiding the contradiction between the urban and countryside. From this premise, the territory in which our historic cities are set it is not only the space beyond their urban boundaries, it is the very base from which the city emerges.
TERRITORY AS SYSTEM
The territory of Guimarães is marked by an alternation of hills and valleys that conforms a territorial system based on the use of water. The hills are characterized by visible rock-formations (Granite, Quartzite and other Metamorphic rocks) and shallow soils. The tops of these hills are occupied by forestry and are also water catchment areas and the starting point of a process of utilization of the territory based on gravity as driving force.
The following component of the system is scrubland, a transitional space between catchment areas and cultivation zones. This give way to cultivation areas of various kinds taking advantage of the fertile soils of the valleys: dry crop agriculture, vines, orchards and irrigation agriculture. Industry has historically located at the end of the territorial system, utilizing the energy of torrents and making use of rivers rivers for evacuation.
The urban origin of the city of Guimarães is profoundly linked to the geographical character of this territory: the alternation of hills and valleys provides a rich food production asset and an effective natural defense system from invasion. Guimarães is located along the Caminho Braga Viseu, one of the most important north-south commercial routes.
The medieval castle to the north of the historic city and the 12th century structure today the Casa dos Peixotos, are located in strategic positions for a visual control of the territory, still clearly visible today. The castle is a clear point of view to comprehend the territory from which the city emerged. The various hill systems and valleys that surround the city create a visual basin with clear and comprehensible boundaries.
The comprehension of these limits is seen as a process of individuation of the structuring elements of the territory that are continuous in time and that determine the specific character of the space that we define as LANDSCAPE UNIT. This is understood here as an area of the territory that is structurally and visually coherent, presenting a homogenous spatial physiognomy.
The main aspect that characterizes the LANDSCAPE UNIT is topography, which goes from 610m of the Sierra da Penha to the 100m of the Veiga de Creixomil. The LANDSCAPE UNIT of the city of Guimarães could be understood as a concave space, practically circular in shape, whose borders are defined by high water catchment areas: to the North the Monte de San Tiago, to the North West the Monte de Santa Eulalia, to the South West the Monte Pombeiro and Monte do Pedral and to the South East the very visually present Sierra da Penha da Costa. This space is further divided in three by the Montinho to the North and the Monte Largo, place were the historic city is sited.
The water structure is closely linked with the geographic form of the LANDSCAPE UNIT and the three main aspects that conform it in the direction North-West South-East: Ribeira de Aveleira and Ribeira de Selho to the North, Ribeira de Santa Luiza in the center and the Ribeira da Costa and Ribeira de Couros to the South. These three water systems have their origin in the same place, the north aspect of the Sierra da Penha.
The Ribeira de Aveleira is fed by a system of torrents result of the gentle gradient of a wide area suitable for agriculture. The Ribeira de Selho, on the other hand, due to its narrow character, is formed by a fast and intricate network of torrents that were the driving force for industrial processes. Similarly, the Ribeira da Costa and Ribeira de Couros are the collectors of a vast network of very fast streams result of the steep gradient of the Sierra da Penha and the great driving force of the industrial development of Guimarães.
Once we have identified the LANDSCAPE UNIT to which the city belongs and the elements that define the identity of the territory, the intention of the project is choose existing footpaths, trails, bridleways, tracks, lanes, historic roads to define a circular route that allows, through walking and cycling, to comprehend the territory to which the city belongs and the key elements that characterize it.
The project becomes an instrument of study that utilizes walking as a slow method of approximation to the territory. The process of determination of the route, conducted in the form of an international workshop involving local residents, associations, experts and international cooperation, had the ambition of connecting the key elements that identify this territory in a safe, confortable and beautiful experience. This resulted in a 23km long circular route that allows accesses from multiple points to the this territory.
The CAMINHO DA CIDADE promotes the experience of the territory as a system whose comprehension can give us clues on how to interpret its operation and to value the importance of the parts that conform it.
Water is the structuring element of the territory that links springs, streams, mills, bridges, fountains, washing places, tanneries and canals: the CAMINHO DA CIDADE goes to find the various fragments that compose this complex system in order to comprehend their order, complexity and reason of being.
The network of historic paths is another structuring element of the territory, establishing links between agricultural activity in the land and commercial activity in the city. In origin droveways, the layout of these paths is closely linked with topography and the water structure. The intention of the CAMINHO DA CIDADE is to reutilize and reconnect these paths in a GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE for Guimarães, a thread that joins together small communities preserving historic connections, promotes public access to this territory and has the ambition of being a key part in the network of paths MOb2012 developed by MAPa2012.
The comprehension of the utilization of water and the agricultural systems associated, allows for the CAMINHO DA CIDADE to become an instrument to experience and protect an extraordinary system of land-use. The route allows experiencing cultivation typologies specific to the territory of Guimarães, such as ARROJES (a system based on the use of the poplar trees to grow vines vertically) or RAMADAS (horizontal metallic structures that allows for horizontal cultivation in non-productive areas such as paths, fountains and entrances).
The CAMINHO DA CIDADE is an instrument that allows the comprehension of built heritage elements, such as Quintas, mills and tanneries, not as isolated pieces but as parts belonging to the territorial system. The project proposes the inclusion in the heritage catalog of those elements key in the construction of the territory and vernacular architecture present along the route.
The CAMINHO DA CIDADE is a planning instrument for the control of the visual and material experience of the territory based in the comprehension of its operation as a system. The intention of the CAMINHO DA CIDADE is to identify, promote access and raise awareness of the key spaces and elements that define the identity of the territory.TERRITORY AS LANDSCAPE
A landscape is a territory perceived by people, result of the action of natural elements and human activity. The CAMINHO DA CIDADE is an initiative that promotes new models of sustainable development and collaborative practices. The development of the project as a collaborative endeavour, involving local residents and associations and international cooperation, promotes the construction of a landscape as a plural experience.
The project for the CAMINHO DA CIDADE not only resulted in the determination of the path, but also in the physical making of the path through the design and realization of marking and signage. The CAMINHO DA CIDADE is a reality open to everyone to experience, enjoy and contribute in the construction of a new landscape.
Project title: Caminho da Cidade
Location: Guimarães, Portugal
Client: Câmara Municipal de Guimarães
Architect: ESTAR, Aurora Armental Ruiz & Stefano Ciurlo Walker, Santiago de Compostela
Contributors: Arthur Smart, Frank Furrer, Inês Vieira da Silva, Idoia Camiruaga Osés, Albert Cuchí Burgos, Ricardo Rodrigues, Marcial Rodriguez Rodriguez, Alberto Redondo Porto, Ángeles Santos Vázquez
Collaborators: Alejandro Oitaven Lorenzo, Ana Manuela Sampaio Fonseca, Andrea Balestrini, Álvaro Mingo Martín, Beatriz Sierra, Emma Croyle, Joseph Little, Laetitia Lietha, Liis Vahter, Lucia Cerrada Morato, Maria-Ourania Zacharopoulou, Michalis Anastasiou, Natalia Vicente, Oscar Arroyo Vega
Thanks to: Erdal, Robbialac, Junta de Freguesia da Costa, José Cunha (A.V.E.), Irmandade de S. Crispim e S. Crispiniano, Cineclube de Guimarães
Project and construction: 2012