Bus Terminal and Urban Park in São Luís do Maranhão by

2023 Public Projects / Brazil / Built in 2022 /

History and identity are fundamental to any city and those are elements that were extremely important in this project, whose area is part of the historical context of the urban development of the municipality of São Luís, bordered by the estuaries of the Anil and Bacanga rivers. The project for the Bus Terminal and Urban Park reinterprets public spaces within the context of the Revitalization Program of the Historic Center of São Luís, launched by the municipality with financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Through a new spatial strategy, the project seeks greater connection with important cultural equipment and services in the surrounding area, creating a coherent urban vision, a healthier and more inclusive public space, and a more people-friendly urban design that prioritizes active and collective transportation. In addition to enhancing the cultural, leisure, and sports vocation of the area, these are the main premises of the project.

The restructuring of the square and bus terminal aims to improve the distribution of commercial points and remove existing physical and visual barriers. The space redesign creates small squares with equipment and urban furniture, promoting ideal conditions for the creation of a lively public space. Additionally, the road system of the terminal is restructured and modernized, with the objective of providing higher quality services to users.

The design goes beyond purely aesthetic or functional aspects and appears as a need for strategic occupation to meet the needs of the site, reordering public space, recovering forgotten spaces, valuing historical aspects, prioritizing pedestrians, and integrating the urban and natural environment. The architecture and landscape were responsible for the improvement on the life of several of merchants, pedestrians and those who just pass by and now can enjoy new public spaces in and historical part of their city.

The redesign of the space created the concept of “islands of uses” with various urban furniture equipment, promoting ideal conditions for a public space to be appropriated by the population. The distinction between passage and permanent areas, as well as their different uses, was achieved through types and colors of floors, urban furniture, and vegetation, and the creation of earth elevations over flat floors, as a constructed landscape. The idea was to delimit functional areas without creating visual barriers or fronts and backs, in an implementation with an organic distribution, but structured according to the convenience of arranging activities. The hillocks allow for interaction and communication between the sports area, playground, games, skateboarding track, climbing wall, and community garden, supporting landscaping and creating spaces for being and socializing, through integration with benches and bleachers.

Throughout the development of the project, society and public organizations were involved through participatory processes and workshops. In the project workshops, developed with the traders and municipal entities involved in the project, the program of needs for the bus terminal and the surrounding avenue was consolidated, especially regarding the intended uses, such as sports practice, leisure areas, food spaces, playgrounds, among others. The reordering of the bus terminal and the proposal for the implementation of the square promoted better distribution of commercial points and elimination of existing physical and visual barriers. For the traders, some of whom work in often precarious stalls and others as street vendors, kiosks and carts or tricycles were designed, already equipped according to the commercial activity.
The Terminal and Urban Park showcases the importance of many actors’ effort to look at a degraded public space and imagine new ways of using it, making it possible to recover its core features, to connect it with the city and to bring new meanings and relations with the population. In a country like Brazil, with such little resources, to carry out this type of endeavor is so significant, mostly when the subject is public spaces and urban quality.

The work was widely and internationally recognized by many architecture related institutions. It was awarded by the Brazilian Architects’ Institute of the State of Maranhão (IAB-MA) in 2022 and in the national stage by IAB-BR in 2022, and it was awarded as the Best Urban Park Design in the BUILD Architecture Awards 2023. Also, the project was published in the press of more than 10 countries of 4 continents, which showed us that many more professionals and critics of architecture understand the importance of renovating our cities with responsibility and generosity.

Location: Av. Sen. Vitorino Freire, 5158-5276 – Centro, São Luís – MA, 65010-655
Design year: 2018
Year Completed: 202


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