Day 1: Barragem do Tua, Douro Valley and dinner with Stucco
Planning a study trip for engineers of course has to involve some great engineering projects. On our first day in Oporto, we jumped into a private bus and took a long drive through the surrounding wine country to get to the Tua dam. This impressive structure intended for the hydroelectric use of the Tua River was a part of a national plan to expand the country’s hydroelectric capacity (which included the construction of 9 additional dams).
The Oporto area is of course known worldwide for one thing in particular: Port wine! Next stop on our trip was to Croft in the Douro Valley, the oldest Port wine producer still active, founded in 1588. While Denmark was experiencing typical October weather, we sat in the 27-degree heat drinking cooled port wine, and everything from the view to the taste was lovely.
The final bus ride of the day took us back to the city, where we met up with our Portuguese partners from Stucco for dinner. Stucco is a company providing specialized engineering consulting services and engineering-based studies and project development. We have worked with them on several projects including a power plant in the UK and a parking house in Denmark. It was a pleasure to meet them all!
Day 2: Bridge tour by boat, more Port wine and dinner at Enoteca
Day 3: Casa de Música, surfing, modern art and bridge climb
Casa de Música is a multifunctional concert hall designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhass and one of the most iconic buildings of Oporto. We had booked a guided tour, but being engineers, we of course wanted the technical details as well as the history of the building. We were fortunate to have Pedro Moás from ADF consultores, who is one of the engineers who worked on the project, with us to supplement the regular tour guide. He could show us some of the original 3D models of the building, which back in 1999 were absolutely groundbreaking as well as share fun facts and details about the structure.
Day 4: Presentation by BERD, visit to the Trofa bridge construction site and roasted piglet
Our trip was slowly coming to an end, but we did not waste time! On our last day we had the pleasure of getting a presentation by Filipe Pinto from the Portuguese company Berd. Filipe showed us their moveable scaffolding system used for super fast bridge construction using either precast elements or in situ concrete.
After the presentation we drove out of the city to see one of their systems in action on the new Trofa bridge. They told us, that each section of the bridge takes approximately one week to cast, after which the scaffold is opened and slid on to the next set of pillars. The system can support spans up to 100 meters each!