Critique at University of Virginia
Critique at University of Virginia

ELO: Proposal of a new public space for Dunas Park in Brazil.

This project was developed by Leonardo Dias as a student from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Facilities category.


Located in the city of Natal/Brazil, the National Park called ‘Dunas de Natal Jornalista Luiz Maria Alves’ has 1,172 hectares and is recognized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as an integral part of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve. lts dune ecosystem is rich and diversified, exerting fundamental importance in the environmental balance of the city and population quality of life.

The park is the first Conservation Unit (a type of Brazilian natural protected area) established in the State of Rio Grande do Norte, being considered the largest Brazilian urban park on dunes. However, it has only one space for public use, which corresponding to 0.69% of the park’s total. This fact limits the population’s contact with it and, as a consequence, its relevance isn’t well known by the citizens of Natal.

ln addition to that, 40 years after its opening, many conflict areas emerged due to the development of the city such as invasions and speculation. Much of this is based on the fact that Dunas Park’s south side, boarded by Roberto Freire Avenue, presents a high level of degradation which has been occurring over the past years.



The proposal of a new public space in the Dunas Park is the result of multiple studies and researches done through one year in my final thesis. The aim of the project was to contribute to the preservation of Dunas Park, in order to stop its speculation through the design of a new area for public use, focused on leisure, environmental education, contemplation and sustainable practice.



The intervention proposed in the Master Plan was defined by the contour of the most degraded areas, thus the park kept its actual condition with a long axis almost parallel to the avenue. This characteristic was used to create contemplative paths, a wide jogging track and also bike lanes that surround the place, improving the flow of the area while also working like a barrier against invasions into the park.

The built elements were designed to be inserted in the place in a way that they were fully integrated with the environment, improving the beautiful views of the landscape. The main building proposed for this area, for example, does this within its architectural gesture, rising gently on the ground through accessible ramps until it reaches two floors. lts gradual appearance contributes to a better sense of human scale and, due to its curved design, also resembles the dune landscape of the park.