Conservation and maintenance operations (1969-2000)

In May 1976, the Foundation’s Administration invites António Facco Viana Barreto, co-author of the Park design, to develop and monitor the revitalization or adaptation process of certain areas [i] of the Park which showed signs of degradation due to:

  • Lack of manpower. Of the 22 gardeners who had guaranteed the conservation and maintenance of the garden from the beginning, only 9 remained;
  • Unruly behaviour by the public;
  • Aging of some of the tree species;
  • António Facco Viana Barreto would monitor this process until December 1979.

 

Activities developed – first phase

The activities developed by António Facco Viana Barreta focused on, the southern area of the garden, flowerbeds, patios [ii] and on the forest of elms to the west. The main objective was to consolidate the principles that had been defined as fundamental in 1961. 

Viana Barreto reinforced the planting of trees and shrubguaranteeing and underlining the role of vegetation as one of the main structuring elements of the space. He implemented a set of measures that sought to minimize the lack of manpower and the excessive amount of visitors.

To achieve these goals, he proposed:

  • The expansion of the path network;
  • Strengthening garden surveillance;
  • The possibility of surrounding the garden with railing, based on the wall [iii] that delimits the garden; 
  • The possibility of the park being closed to the public during the period necessary for its full recovery.
  •  A campaign to raise the awareness among visitorsfocused mainly on the younger generation.

 

Closing of the Park

On 30 October, 1979, the Board of Directors of the Foundation agrees with this proposal and acknowledges that, although all the measures indicated by the author of the project had been complied with, … it seems that it is not possible to contain the degradation of the Calouste Gulbenkian Park (…) Under these terms, and taking advantage of the construction of the Modern Art Centre, the Council has decided that the Calouste Gulbenkian Park should be closed to the public in order to carry out the recovery and reconversion of the Park in question. (…) so that the Calouste Gulbenkian Park can be reopened in July 1981 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

António Barreto and Ribeiro Telles did not accept the location chosen for the implantation of that new building and from that date on, they concluded their collaboration with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

 

Second phase of conservation and maintenance

The second phase of maintenance and conservation was carried out under the guidance of landscape architect Edgar Fontes, who in 1980 was hired to «carry out the remodelling /restoration of the Park with a view to the integration of the Modern Art Centre» [iv].

On 20 July, 1984, the garden fully reopened to the public.

Between 1985 and 2001, the conservation and maintenance of the Garden was provided by the Proverde company.

 

Third phase of interventions

In November 1999, in view of the need to install a new irrigation system, the Board of Directors of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation decided to start a third campaign of recovery works in the Garden, where they also aimed to prevent any loss of character that could result from the works. Other issues were quickly raised and considered such as the following plans for the works: lower maintenance costs; reduced water consumption; increased energy efficiency; the need to find solutions to respond, with great care, to the growing number of visitors; the need to make the Garden accessible to all [v]. Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles was responsible for this third phase.

 

[i]
Calouste Gulbenkian Park – Proposal for acceptance of services by landscape architect António Viana Barreto

[ii]
Museum Courtyards
Congress Courtyard
Flowerbeds

[iii]
Cutaway – Enclosing Wall

[iv]
Informação n.º 1384/SC/01 de 28 de setembro de 2001, Arquivo dos Serviços Centrais da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

[v]
Apontamento dos Serviços Centrais Parque Gulbenkian – Ponto da Situação, 22 de novembro de 1999, Arquivo dos Serviços Centrais da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

 

Documents of this phase