Miguel Figueira

Assisted Footpath . Montemor-o-Velho

Miguel Figueira . photos: © Márcio Oliveira -color- . © Jorge Nogueria -black&wite-

The Montemor-o-Velho Assisted Footpath consists of three escalators connecting the lower area of the town centre, close to the Praça dos Paços do Concelho, to the upper promontory around which the Caminho de Ronda do Castelo – the castle walk – used to run.

The escalators overcome a drop of more than 30 metres and take people both up and down. Running alongside them are flights of stone steps leading to a series of landings at intermediate levels on the hill’s southern slope. This second series of footpaths links the mechanical infrastructure to the surrounding residential area, creating a new network of neighbourhoods. More than being just a technological novelty with which to dazzle people on the occasion of their grand opening, the escalators are an “urban machine” designed to breathe fresh life into an already existing residential area that is still populated. In the words of Miguel Figueira, “it is like a bypass”:
… a violent intervention resulting from a critical diagnosis. To a large extent, the vitality of the town and its centre depends on its positive relationship with its castle, and the viability of the residential area on the hillside depends on the quality of its access. It isn’t just the town’s connection to its castle, but also the integration of the rundown hillside area, that urgently needs to be solved.

Developed by Montemor-o-Velho Council’s Town Planning Department, the project forms part of a strategic plan to improve the living conditions of the castle’s southern slope. But there is more to it than that. Above all, it seeks to recover the central importance of the region in the territorial structure of the Mondego valley. Thus, moving the castle’s main entrance to the southern gate (Porta do Sol – the Sun Gate), next to the Capela de Santo António has meant that there is no longer just one access to the castle via the road that has linked Estrada Nacional 111 to the castle’s Porta da Peste – the Plague Gate – entrance since the 1970s. Or, in other words, with the opening of the Porta do Sol and the accompanying rehabilitation of the Caminho de Ronda, as well as the escalator link between the town’s upper and lower areas, the castle no longer has its back turned towards the town and the Mondego valley.

Description _Pedro Baía / Diogo Seixas Lopes in THE ROLLING STONES OF MONTEMOR-O-VELHO, Jornal Arquitectos #248, Set. 2013.
Photography _black&wite _Jorge Nogueria in THE ROLLING STONES OF MONTEMOR-O-VELHO, Jornal Arquitectos #248, Set. 2013.
Photography _color _Márcio Oliveira, 2014

Location _Montemor-o-Velho
Project _2009
Completion of Construction Works _2013
Total area of intervention _1235 m² / Elevation of 35,25 m
Construction Value _1 154 831,19 euros
Funding _Mais Centro Program (85% of the works)

Architecture _Miguel Figueira
Collaboration _Gonçalo Cristo, João Alves, Ana Buco, e Carina Carmo (intern)
Stability, Water and Sewerage _Bruno Graça
Electricity _José Buco
Construction _Liftech + Kone / GGCorreia

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