An unusual garden

This week I’ll be posting more images from our day in Porto, and will start with an area located between the Livraria Lello and the Torre dos Clérigos.

roof garden 1

This olive tree is fairly old (you don’t get trunks that thick for many years), and is one of many that have been recently transplanted into what appears to be a new park under construction. From where I took this photo, the park looked like any other.

But when we turned the corner and crossed the street to the Torre dos Clérigos, I took a look back and stopped in surprise.

roof garden 5

It’s a park on a building roof! With full-grown olive trees, and plenty of them. Which brought up a bunch of instant questions: How are they able to offer those trees enough depth of soil to grow? What is the weight of that roof? What kind of structural supports have been factored into the building to bear the load? What happens when it rains and the weight increases by a gazillion kilos due to the water soaking into the soil?

roof garden 3

This image, taken with a zoom from about halfway up the Torre dos Clérigos, gives a better idea of the area covered — a city block, in my American way of thinking. At the corners, where the park’s paths join the street, the roof comes to ground level. At other points, it’s nearly two stories high. There appears to be a passage through its center that will be left open to pedestrian traffic, which could make a heck of a courtyard. I’m still not sure what’s happening with the bare concrete on top — the part on the right seems pretty wide to be just a path.

If any Porto area natives know more about this, I’d love to learn. This surely is one of the more unusual gardens I’ve come across.

(Note for orientation: the Livraria Lello is visible at top right — it’s the pale cream building centered between the darker ones. If that passage through the park/building center is indeed going to remain open as a pedestrian passage, it will be a natural connector between the famous bookstore and the entrance to the Torre dos Clérigos — two popular points on a tourist’s stroll through the city.)


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to An unusual garden

  1. Ana_ñ says:

    How interesting!
    I also would love to learn about it, and see it when finished… Perhaps you could go back then and take more photos…

  2. xenatuba says:

    Now that is cool. We have some rooftop gardens here in Eugene, but nothing of that magnitude.

  3. Pedro R. Almeida says:

    Thank you for your interest in this project.
    This is a project made by Balonas & Menano (, a Portuguese Architecture and Urban Development Firm.
    The proposed Building and its Rooftop were built on top of an existing car-park from the 90’s.
    It will be finished in the next days and open to the Public shortly after. The rooftop garden will be a new public space for the city.

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