Made in collaboration between paulo moreira architectures and Verkron collective, ‘Escadinhas Footpaths’ is a project that links architecture, art and the natural world. It is a network of pedestrian footpaths linking the hilly neighbourhood of Monte Xisto to the banks of the River Leça in Matosinhos, Portugal. The initiative is intended to demonstrate the added value that modest interventions can bring to more ‘hidden’, neglected urban spaces in our cities.
Lasting a year, the process brought together a multidisciplinary team of architects, local builders, artists and an extensive network of partners. In the first phase of the building work, the steps leading to Rua das Escadinhas, an unusual urban device connecting the upper and lower levels of the western hill of Monte Xisto, were rehabilitated. The steps and handrail were repaired and a new boundary between the public steps and the private land adjoining them was created in the form of benches, allowing the stairs to be used as a resting place.
Following the path that links the foot of the steps to the River Leça, an old ruin was rebuilt and transformed into a seating area surrounded by nature. Small-scale interventions restored the site’s original character, undoing the precarious interventions carried out over the years. The meticulous rehabilitation of the site, which included adding benches in every ‘room’ in the building, has encouraged people to spend time there and transformed it into a place for socialising.