Rio Grande Portals
The people of Rio Grande do Sul cultivate tradition. The state government’s proposal to build the Rio Grande Portals highlights one of the oldest traditions: hospitality. Another remarkable characteristic is the importance given to the state’s identity, its particularities. Sometimes the conservative traditionalism verges on kitsch – which is absolutely unnecessary, since the peculiarities that differentiate Rio Grande do Sul are numerous and valuable.
Based on these considerations, and as an answer to the contest brief’s requirement for a landmark, the Portals were designed as a welcoming shelter instead of being just another symbol or totem. Consequently, it is not punctual; it is integrated with the surrounding vegetation, which gets thicker near the river. It is the result of combining architecture, landscape design, visual communication and structural engineering.
This way of conceiving shelters allows the built area to expand without losing its original features and, at the same time, creates an idea of dynamism and growth. It was a deliberate choice to highlight the building process, like a jigsaw puzzle formed by pieces that are well-defined and understood.
The main elements of this project are inexpensive and typical of Rio Grande do Sul: eucalyptus logs in the framework, freestones for the retaining walls, sandstones for the bearing walls and sandstone slabs for paving.
The canopy structure (the shelter) has only one support, which is reinforced by metallic pieces so it can resist the bending moment. The ancillary spaces are shaped by a framework made of self-supporting stone masonry and eucalyptus beams that make concrete crossbeams unnecessary.
The eucalyptus (or other leafy trees depending on the border region) planted on the front boundary lines establish a visual limit, working as a background that delimits the portals’ scenery. Smaller trees, such as hibiscus or oleanders, single out the main diagonal lines that the project aims to highlight and add a special color to them, predominantly red. In the areas near the roads, undergrowth predominates, as well as homogenous paving, so that the vertical elements like the flagpoles, the totem and the lampposts that become structures are highlighted.