Candidate – Portugal
Submission by: Macedo de Cavaleiros
Project name: NEAR – greeN hEARt
Macedo Green Park is a key piece in the planning and management puzzle of the city, where it performs a series of functions. The Municipality of Macedo de Cavaleiros intends to reconcile the functions of ecosystems and built systems through the green park in the heart of the city that intends to be the meeting point between nature and citizens, in a “continuum naturale” idea. This was planned thinking of people in an integrated perspective considering its multifunctionality.
In its construction, ecological principles were applied, using innovative techniques based on R&D, where vegetation plays an aggregating role. In its surroundings we find the hospital, residential areas and the main commercial and service areas of the city. It is a place where all citizens can reach in a few minutes. Easy access invites you to exercise, relax and socialize.
The city’s green park offers innovative strategies aimed at improving the Macedences quality of life, increasing local resilience and promoting sustainable lifestyles, fostering both health and well-being. The playground, the native vegetation, the water line and other existing infrastructure constitute a main component of these strategies, which can help to ensure that urban residents have adequate opportunities for contact with nature in different dimensions. Designed with a focus on proximity and multifunctionality, this is a green welcoming space, actively contributing to the promotion of the quality of urban life. This park is a strategic ecological corridor for the provision of ecosystem services in the urban perimeter and was designed respecting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The plant species were chosen for their suitability for this space, in the current situation of climate change, meeting its water requirements and the optimized use of this resource. The presence of these plant communities actively promotes and contributes to the sequestration of C, the regulation and mitigation of the temperature and helps to protect biodiversity, as well as the circulation of fauna and the dispersion of flora. It is an area of enormous importance for pollinator communities due to the floristic diversity present.
Crossed by a water line, it’s an important aquaculture refuge, typical of inland fresh waters, providing unique sensory experiences in its surroundings. As added benefits we can list the reduction of ultraviolet radiation, the reduction of noise from road traffic and machinery, being a true oasis for plant and animal species.
The existence of this green space in the heart of the city as a strategic natural asset that helps to promote society’s recognition of the patrimonial, intergenerational, economic and social value of biodiversity. This area is an important space for promoting and carrying out many activities, from the outset recreational activities that can encourage economic activity. The well-being of the population and the permanence in these spaces make it possible to appropriate this heritage as a factor of economic development, functioning as a transition area between the different sectors of activity that develop in the vicinity. The entire surrounding area, due to the territorial permeability that this space offers, becomes more attractive to the constitution and establishment of innovative business models.
This urban green space actively contributes to reducing the risks to environmental health associated with urban living, through the improvement of air and water quality, mitigation of impacts resulting from extreme weather events.
This natural area works as an island that helps the city’s climate balance, allowing the temperature to be softened. The amount of ultra-violet rays that reach the soil is smaller, and the relative humidity of the air reaches higher values due to the contribution of the physiological phenomena of the plant communities that live there and the presence of the stream. In this park we can find a huge area of grass that plays a role in capturing atmospheric CO2, through its root system, fixing it in the soil as organic carbon, this capacity is inherent to the nature of the grass itself. This area makes a positive contribution to improving the city’s climate.
Wellbeing of visitors/users
The city’s green park enhances the social environment, at a familiar, institutional and territorial scale. This space promotes and contributes to improving the health and well-being of its users. In it we can find infrastructures that can be used by all age groups, including the population with reduced mobility, promoting activities such as walking, walking or just talking, contributing to a better quality of life, while promoting an active and healthy life. Framed in a mountainous landscape of the city, the mountain range can be seen, which is imposing and delights the eye, in a peaceful environment, far from the noise and disturbances associated with city life.
Selection, origin and quality of the products and materials
The construction of this infrastructure took into account the use of materials from the region, first of all the floors that come from a parish in the municipality. The materials that were used for the rehabilitation of the river banks are plant remains reused from the silvicultural management carried out on the river banks of the Ribeira de Macedo. The selection of species took into account the ecological conditions of the park. An area of the most emblematic bush plant species of the municipality was created, which have uses for food and therapeutic properties. Areas were left to ensure the phytosociological succession of species, where autochthonous ones appear through natural regeneration.
The overall design
The urban surrounding of the park dictates the main relationships with the city and, consequently, its design and organization. Planned according to the presence of Ribeira de Macedo, in order to take advantage of its full potential. We can find in the park various equipment aimed at different target audiences, covering all age groups and mobility conditions. The traditional elements were recovered and maintained, assuming support functions for the activities that take place in the park or just functioning as typical identity elements of this culture, integrating the traditions.
The impact on the environment
The design of the park was based on the principles of the National Strategy for Environmental Education, namely on the mission to carry out thematic and transversal work to design and guarantee a more innovative, inclusive and enterprising society, stimulating public debate on the values associated with sustainable development and ownership. The value of the natural and cultural heritage act as a strategic assets for the sustained development of the city. In its construction, principles, techniques and materials were applied that respect sustainability and socio-economic circularity.
Innovative value off the project
The innovation and value of this project are essentially based on providing a natural, inclusive and easily accessible space. Surrounded by residences, commerce and services and the city’s hospital. The main innovation of the project is the offer of a space that welcomes a huge diversity of activities in an inclusive way. Users of social solidarity institutions and hospital users find here a leisure space in contact with nature promoting their well-being. The equipment and infrastructure that exist in this park encourage the practice of sports in an appropriate way and promote the practice of traditional games as an identity asset of these communities. The schools can develop here many activities with their students.