The Canopy Walkway in Serralves Park
The Treetop Walk project in Serralves Park in Portugal, came to fruition when architect Carlos Castanheira made the promise to bring a different dimension of interaction with nature.
Situated near the iconic contemporary art museum designed by Alvaro Siza Vieira, a visit to Serralves is always described as an experiential walk-through time and space.
The architect Carlos Castanheira wanted to add to this experience by creating something that would not destroy the already beautiful setting but add to it. The footbridge that they have created features a 260m extension course and surrounds the Serralves Park woods, revealing nature’s different views, colours, and various shades, offering a stunning viewing of the biodiversity in the Park.
According to the architects, building a new walkway that complements the existing one could only be created in the canopy of the beautiful and imposing trees of the Park.
“The walk starts at the furthest east end of the Park – just where the “Casa do Cinema” is now being built – it rises gently, bringing us up into the tree canopy, as the ground runs away beneath our feet, it rises skyward,” says Castanheira, who heads the award-winning studio in Portugal.
The architects describe the walkway as a continuation of nature, of timber being everywhere, taking students, young and old on a journey to understand life in nature through the Canopy that dives between trees, with points of rest and contemplation in the journey of peace.
“We approach a cork tree, without touching it, we go around its rough cork trunk and continue on towards an elegant sequoia. Almost flying ourselves, we approach some bird feeders. We catch sight of a shy wild pigeon, a blackbird clambering between branches, and a jay that appears to be hopping through the air. We hear the hammering of a woodpecker as it searches out insects from the bark of a tree. We understand that a tree is a world in itself, full of life. We stop at the points where we can take a rest and spy on the life that is taking place in the tree canopy,” they say as they describe the poetry of the architectural piece created.
The walkaway is created in a way that it can be used by everyone, young and old, and by those who use assisted wheelchairs. It is easy to enjoy the walk and take it all in.
“We are now quite high up; such is the height of the Canopy in the Park. We search for new, never seen, never felt views and we long for, however brief, some panoramic view of Foz do Douro and the infinite Atlantic. We are walking on timber, almost everything in timber,” describes the architects poetically.
Structure, walkway, balustrades become one with the trunks and branches. In time they will become ever more alike and the walkway will eventually be as if it had always been there. Like a growing tree that asserts its place naturally. The bravest or most courageous can climb up or down the stairs connecting the lower level of the site with the highest point on the walkway, which allows for escape and safety.
“We complete the walkway almost where we started it. We are on the Canopy, up nearer to the sky, but still close to earth.”
CC&CB – Architects, Lda.
3D and Rendering:
6,254 square metre
FG+SG – Fotografia de Arquitectur