The water of the Tâmega Basin, once at the heart of all the irrigated land, is today the primary resource for one of Europe’s largest green hydro energy plants. The Tâmega Electroproducer System, also known as Gigabattery, has brought significant changes to the region by demonstrating the contrast between two ways of managing water: as a local and common asset and as a commercial product for creating energy.
By exploring ways of articulating between the different scales and times present within this territory, a dialogue begins, born of the mediating capacity of architecture, seeking to mitigate the impact of this metamorphosis of the local territory, flora, fauna and human life.
A vital element for human and non-human species, as well as a metaphorical and emotional element, fresh water is simultaneously political and economic. Therefore, it is urgent to have a public discussion about the protection, management, and future of this natural resource. These are global issues with dramatic manifestations in different areas of the Portuguese territory.
Focusing on seven distinct hydrogeographies, Fertile Futures commissions young architects, in collaboration with experts from other areas of knowledge, to present propositional models for a more sustainable tomorrow, in non-hierarchical cooperation between disciplines, generations, and species.
The seven case studies exemplify the anthropocentric action on finite natural water resources, namely: in the Tâmega Basin; in the International Douro; in Middle Tejo; in the Alqueva Reservoir; in the Mira River; in Lagoa das Sete Cidades; and in Madeira's Streams.
Fertile Futures advocates the pertinence of architecture's role in designing a collaborative, decarbonised, and decolonised future, based on a heterogeneous approach, open to experimentation, dialogue, and joint reflection, focused on the reality of the Portuguese territory.
Expanding the ephemeral existence of a national representation in Venice, Fertile Futures will involve new generations in the development of solutions for the reservoirs of the future, based on close contact with seven hydrogeographies, exemplifying the anthropocentric action on water, natural and finite resources.
Young architectural ateliers are encouraged to work with specialists from other disciplinary areas, starting from design laboratories. Based on innovation and mediation strategies which seek to understand different scales of reality, the common imagination of more positive scenarios is encouraged and other ways of performing architecture are also fostered.
Based on local involvement with the specificities of territorially dispersed hydrogeographies, the propositional solutions under development in the Design Teams aim to promote forms of global action, as well as the discussion of new ways of operating at the territorial scale, as well as at the small scale.
Supporting and expanding the work developed by the Design Teams, Fertile Futures has a group of consultants, from different disciplinary areas and a wide territorial scope. It constitutes an independent thought laboratory that informs and supports the construction of speculative architectural visions of social, environmental and climate justice, in an active and participatory way, fostering the development of multidisciplinary practices.
The Assemblies of Thought, in multiple locations between Portugal and Venice, allow for the monitoring, support and expansion of all these experiences, deepening and enriching the thematic approach, as well as contributing to “tracing a path for the public”, involving the local, Portuguese and international community in the discussion of the proposed central theme. The consultants are: Álvaro Domingues, Ana Tostões, Andres Lepik, Francisco Ferreira, Luca Astorri, Margarida Waco, Marina Otero, Patti Anahory, Pedro Gadanho and Pedro Ignacio Alonso.