Extrastudio arquitectura . Oficina dos Jardins

Island Regeneration . Tavira

photos: courtesy of Extrastudio

In 2009, Polis Litoral Ria Fomosa - the public company responsible for Lisbon’s EXPO 98, launched a series of public competitions
for the coastline re-qualification of the Algarve. Mostly known as a mass-tourist destination, Algarve combines a mix of fiercely urbanized areas, with an unspoiled system of islands and marshlands.

Accessed only by boat, Tavira's Island has around 1.200.000 visitors per year, 80% of it from June to mid-September. Dealing with an incredibly fragile ecosystem, the design purposes focused on the preservation and regeneration of local natural conditions, integrating human activities sustainably. A hierarchy of pathways was defined, a public square, framed by restaurants was designed, and an ambitious plan of energetic efficiency was implemented.


The moving sand dunes are protected by two confined accesses to the beach and a fence that restrains access, and retains the blowing sand. This system also allows to regenerate the sand dunes vegetation, working as sand fixing and promoting the ecosystem protection, nevertheless, this option has a high ornamental value. On areas where the dunes are still preserved there is a rich diversity of vegetation, but it gets sparse with human interaction. In the scattered urban area, pine trees were introduced to stabilize the land and create shadow, generating glades where the bridal broom blossoms.
There is a plan for eradication of invasive species as wattles and the ice plant. Considering that the area is part of the EU Natura 2000 Network there is an objective of preservation natural habitats for fauna like the chameleon, that is almost extinct in Europe.

New pathways were created to link the ferry-dock, the existing camping site and the small holiday houses with the square that defines the main public space. This square is the main recreational area, with a playground and an artificial dune. All around, the beach sand precast concrete pavements blend in with the landscape and create sitting areas connected with the restaurants' terraces, on the shadow.

The restaurants define this public space, shaping the square. They evolve from the same monolithic volume wrapped with a roof shaped wooden frame that adjusts to the landscape. By planning criteria all the restaurants must have the same area and footprint, but the roof shapes its own personality, creating exceptions and defining an unique terraced area for each restaurant. The wooden screen is a re-use of ‘reixa’, a traditional window louvre system that comes from Islamic architecture, and is one of Tavira’s main architectural features.



Place: Tavira's Island, Tavira, Portugal
Type: Public Space
Area: 12 ha
Project: 2009|2010
Client: Polis Litoral Ria Formosa
Design team: EXTRASTUDIO João Ferrão, João Costa Ribeiro, Madalena Atouguia, Sónia Oliveira, Maria João Oliveira and Tiago Pinhal Costa OFICINA DOS JARDINS Sónia Caldeira, Inês Ferrão, Carolina Freire and Sílvia Felix
copyright text and images: EXTRASTUDIO



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