Fronteira Palace Orange Grove Garden

Fronteira Palace - Lisbon

The new garden was commissioned by Fernando Mascarenhas, the twelfth Marquis of Fronteira, who sought not only to bring back the half-abandoned orchard but also to make his 21st century mark and expanding the meaning of the gardens through an artistic installation.

The project implemented at the Fronteira Palace estate was based on a contemporary interpretation of the traditional shapes and use of plants, water and azulejos (ceramic tiles), interpreting the historical 17th century garden know-how . For ACB landscape architecture the study of ancient solutions, polished by centuries of use, leads to modern solutions respecting the ecosystem and able to survive and meet high standards of aesthetics and durability. The plot design of this contemporary garden takes its inspiration on the boxwood layout on the terrace immediately above, unseen from the terrace where the new orange grove is locate. The project respects the symmetry introduced by the water features: lakes and channels that serve the dual purpose of irrigation and ornamentation and appear in perfect symmetry with the layout above. The two other levels of the garden were also endowed with a symmetry in which the centre is occupied by lakes mutually connected by canals finished in tiles set into the ground brickwork. Within the extent of each lake, there is an island home to one or more tangerine trees with boilers sending out two waterspouts that ensure ongoing water circulation and enliven the ambience. The hydraulic system is therefore a complex one.

The new project was designed to enhance the pre-existing features such as the belvedere finished in tiles above a water channel where the water flow was hidden. The water in the channel that crosses the orange grove was raised, transforming it into three water mirrors, through a console system, which overspills into a dam below the belvedere. A pumping system drives the water to the waterspouts and tanks, which in turn feed the channels imbedded in the pavement and then once again into the water mirrors and thereby closing the cycle.

The trees planted are erythrinas, which shall strengthen those already existing but advanced in age; cypresses, pomegranates and various citrus trees that were on this site in the past as historical documentation identifies it as an orange grove. The proposed orange grove was planted across its lower plots and to a density that, when seen from above from the pergola in the formal boxwood garden, provides an ever green surface as occurs with the raised passageways in Islamic gardens. The orange grove was planted as a tribute to D. Pedro Mascarenhas, who introduced the first orange from China in Europe.

The hydraulic system project calculated the pumping potential beneath the belvedere so as to establish even distribution across the canals in a closed system. This project was complex as the terrain is not completely flat. Respecting the natural unevenness between the plots and the irregularities of their walls, the canal system was adapted to the existing terrain with the minimum landscaping necessary to bring about the free circulation of the water along its course.

Originally the water flows from subterranean mines coming from natural springs and the basalt rock to feed the 17th century lakes and in this new project the water supply was also a recycling of already working systems.

The network of canals is finished with enamelled ceramic pieces in the old Fronteira blue colour. Later, out of a desire to boost the artistic input to the garden, Fernando Mascarenhas commissioned an original tile finishing purposed designed by the artist Eduardo Nery. The eight new tanks were fully tiled in a contemporary design with strong colours across all walls and at the bottom of the lakes.

It proved possible to recover with a contemporary design the former plots of the orange grove with its ornamental and recreational intentions. A new area, simultaneously functional and productive, celebrates with the same joyful and lush environment the art of gadens, offering it for public visits.
Technical Sheet- Landscape Architects

Project Coordination:
Cristina Castel-Branco

Project Assistance:
Miguel Coelho Sousa | Raquel Carvalho | Maria Matos Silva

Area: 4.300 m2

Status: Built

Fundação das Casas de Fronteira e Alorna

Date: 2010