Barrocal Park

Barrocal Park, Topiaris Landscape Architecture for Municipality of Castelo Branco

Topiaris design team: Teresa Barão, Luis Ribeiro, Catarina Viana, Elsa Calhau, André Godinho, Ana Beja da Costa, Rita Salgado, Ana Lemos, Bartolomeu Perestrello External collaborators: Architecture: Olavo Dias, Sérgio Sousa & João Gago dos Santos. Structures: FTD - Pedro Delgado Scientific Coordination: Carlos Neto de Carvalho Communication design: Desenharia - Ana Tiago & Pedro Silva e Sousa Photography: Pedro Martins

Barrocal Park is an 11ha site within the 40ha of the defined Barrocal area, in Castelo Branco. It holds a great wealth of geological, archaeological and natural elements, and its landscape is determined by – and named after – the presence of large granitic natural blocks with very particular shapes.

The roughness of these blocks allowed for the preservation of their natural character over time, allowing it to become a sanctuary for fauna and flora. Its landscape and associated values, as well as its location in the city, presented an opportunity to provide outstanding spaces for Castelo Branco’s urban population, while creating a scientific, geological and archaeological interpretation site, a nature conservation site and a nature tourism destination, as defined by the Castelo Branco Municipality.

The design of essential infrastructure aimed to have a minimum impact on the landscape. The network of wooden and metal suspended paths and viewpoints allows the public to access exceptional perspectives over a vast and varied landscape, guiding visitors while safeguarding natural sensitive areas at minimal maintenance costs.

A shaded tunnel, a birdwatching observatory and a dome circle are reference points along this network, and where different activities are made available to visitors. Phase 1 was concluded in 2020, just after the current global pandemic called for new thinking of public and recreation spaces. Barrocal Park is a clear example of how a low-density nature landscape may be preserved in an urban context, providing freedom for individual or collective use, while complying with public health safety measures.