Iguaçu National Park
FOZ DO IGUAÇU – PARANÁ
A new future for Parque das Cataratas
Named one of the seven natural wonders and world natural heritage by the UN, Iguaçu National Park (INP) was created in 1939 and extends for 186 thousand ha. The park is situated in an area of convergence placed along the Brazilian border to both Argentina and Paraguay in addition to being in the geographic center of Mercosul (The Southern Common Market). The city of Foz do Iguaçu, is the primary gateway to the site and administrative headquarters of the park. Beyond being a main tourist attraction of Brazil, it has developed into a new metropolitan region with established infrastructure.
Developed by a multidisciplinary team, this project forms part of a series of studies for the concession destined for the provision of public services to support visitation, revitalization, modernization, operation and maintenance of tourist services for INP. Natureza Urbana was responsible for technical-operational modeling, the visitation concept proposal, services and interventions (infrastructure projects), all with the aim of strengthening the visitation experience together with nature.
The INP is organized into four visitation poles, distinguished by characteristics, access points, and public profile:
Waterfalls pole is the post visited pole that comprises the main touristic activities including the Iguaçu falls that make up the largest waterfall system in the world. It is accessed through the city of Foz do Iguaçu.
Silva Jardim pole consists of vast preserved natural areas, however, presently does not offer any services to visitors. This pole has the potential for nature immersion activities and bicycle tourism.
Rio Azul pole is located in the north of the park and can be conveniently accessed through the municipality of Céu Azul, where locals already make use of the area for sports. It possesses characteristics of an urban park and has the potential to become a new “Portal to the Park”.
Ilhas Iguaçu and Gonçalves Dias pole is in the south of the park, characterized by the discourse between the Iguaçu and Silva Jardim river with the waterfalls, rapids and islands where adventure and ecotourism activities can be carried out.
The project includes territorial planning for the visitation of all poles, identifying any vocational opportunities to valorize each one of them. In addition to proposing services aimed at tourism, new infrastructure to support visitation and the requalification of existing assets and equipment for public use is proposed. The main premise was to restructure the visitation of INP, offering new experiences to visitors, enhancing the contact and connection with nature by way of sustainable interventions.
The project’s guidelines, which informed the structure for the new concession, were based on the innovation of public use management, accessibility, sustainability and the expansion of visitation with the new motto “park for all”. Through the new concession, the park was encouraged to prioritize the generation of social benefits in parallel to environmental conservation and the implementation of efficient management strategies to achieve sustainable development.
The development of the intervention concept was premised from the consideration of the INP as a natural park, with the transformation of the visitors’ experience into one of connection and immersion in nature.
SUSTAINABLE AND RESPONSIBLE SOLUTIONS: Sustainability addressed in an environment, cultural, social and economic scope. These being solutions that reach beyond the implementation of sustainable technologies, that consider the relationship with the environment and surroundings and seek to design for the entire life cycle of the project. These environmentally responsible solutions are organized and implemented through integrative strategies that ensure user comfort and reduce environmental impact.
ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE SOLUTIONS: Accessibility and inclusion are themes that should be present in all interventions, integrated into the solutions through material choices, construction methods and park policies. The design of a space directly influences emotional response and therefore the project should take an intersectional approach and cater to all population groups and their needs.
INTEGRATED AND ACTIVE SOLUTIONS: These solutions relate to the context in which they are inserted, in such a way that infrastructure becomes part of the users experience in the environment.
BIOMIMETIC AND LOW IMPACT SOLUTIONS: Stemming from the questions “what does this design need to do?” (identification of the functional demand) and “how does nature already achieve this?” (biological research), it is possible to reveal existing solutions performed by nature. These can inspire innovative strategies and a unique approach to project development. Biomimicry goes beyond simply replicating forms in nature by seeking to understand the systems and structures that govern them.
Low impact architecture integrates itself into the environment in which it is inserted, respecting the pre-existing conditions and natural dynamics within the area of intervention. It implements, as much as possible, local materials and construction methods, minimizes disruptions from site work and seeks to provide the user with an experience of immersion in the local setting.
The potential identified for the Waterfalls Pole goes beyond the Iguaçu falls and the requalification of existing infrastructure. The proposal aims to strengthen all of the park’s attractions, essentially creating a mesh of active mobility by enhancing the opportunities for ground activities (trails, bridges, viewpoints and cable car).
Beyond the requalification of the Waterfall Nucleus, Visitors Center and Canoe Port, the project proposes interventions to strengthen the Bananeiras trail, Poço Preto trail, park school, São João nucleus and research nucleus. The implementation of wayfinding, interpretive signage, improvement in trails systems and creation of new ones, and provision of infrastructure such as outdoor furniture and support structures is proposed in all centers.
The waterfalls trail, the main attraction of this nucleus, will be entirely renovated along with the modernization of existing buildings, expansion of contemplation areas and amelioration of the trail for accessibility.
In order to strengthen the visitation in the Rio Azul pole, the proposal suggested the renewal of the ‘Base Avançada’, the maintenance of the trails and the connection between the Rio Azul and Manoel Gomes trails.
The ‘Base Avançada’ will be transformed into an environmental park, with activities aims towards the leisure of surrounding communities (running course, sports fields, playground), in addition to general visitors (exposition space, trails, environmental education).
The proposal for this pole focused on the improvement of the Silva Jardim and Taquara trails with the implementation of wayfinding and interpretive signage on flora and fauna of the park, in addition to the provision of support infrastructure such as dry toilets, bridges and hard rails.
In order to incentivize the visitation to the Silva Jardim Pole, the project proposed a restoration of existing trails with the implementation of wayfinding and interpretive signage on flora and fauna found in the park.