The Square

Emigration and Emigrants have always been part of Ribeira Grande.

Aware of this phenomenon, the Municipality wants to live arm in arm with all those who left, by choice or by necessity, but do not forget their homeland.

We hosted the headquarters of AEA-Associação dos Emigrantes Açorianos, a bridge between the Diaspora and the motherland.

We had already built the Azorean Emigration Museum, a space of memory, history, and culture of our Diaspora.

We are in the front line, but a big tribute to all Emigrants was missing.

It comes with this imposing Emigrant Plaza, a broad space where we want everyone to feel the pride and affection we have for our Emigrants.

The center of the Emigrant Square is occupied by the public art piece Saudades da Terra, the same expression that Gaspar Frutuoso – our first illustrious Emigrant, son of the island of São Miguel and vicar of the then town of Ribeira Grande – used in the 16th century to summarize a greater feeling, common to all Emigrants.

The work is dedicated to all Ribeira-grandenses and Azoreans who, throughout these centuries, felt longing for their land.

Mayor of Ribeira Grande


The Emigrant Square presents a development with a slight slope in the South/North direction, respecting the existing topography, in order to minimize the movement of earth necessary for the execution of this public equipment, materialized according to a single sidewalk executed in Portuguese cobblestone with chromatic variations based on the graphic scheme presented in the drawings, whose southern limit coincides with the kerb that separates the current sidewalk and the roadway, and northern limit represented by the existing stone wall, providing in this area a garden area that will allow the creation of a safety strip between the accessible paved space and the alignment of the boundary wall, which presents a significant difference in level in relation to the neighboring land, located to the north. The sidewalk is on a rigid base, in order to guarantee access for maintenance and cleaning vehicles to the public space, as well as emergency vehicles. The urban design solution adopted also foresees the execution of two tree alignments that flank the square, placed over circular design gutters, executed with a steel band on a concrete foundation. The north side of the square includes two lines of urban furniture pieces that constitute both a continuous bench and a space for the engraving of inscriptions referring to the donations and contributions of the Azorean emigrant community that support the realization of the monument in honor of the Emigrant. These structures are executed in pre-cast concrete to cover the basalt stone slabs, constituting a resting and contemplation area on the seafront, taking advantage of the landscape framing of high interest that is obtained from it. The architectural project was the responsibility of the company M-arquitectos



A globe, representing the Earth, 4 meters in diameter, covered with Portuguese cobblestones (white and black limestone from the Portuguese mainland).
The Azores Islands figure on a larger scale than the rest of the Earth.
Planet Earth is also our little corner. It is where we all live and, although it is big, it is small for human feelings.

The globe sits on a black basalt stone, representing the Island, 1.4 meters high and 3.5 meters in diameter, with an irregular shape. The stone symbolizes the Island, the Islands the Azores.

The floor design for the surrounding area is 10 meters in diameter and is by the artist Luke Marston, a member of the Salish people from Vancouver Island, Canada.
The design is already part of a public art piece developed by Luke Marston to honor his ancestors, including Portuguese Joe Silvey (José Simas), a whaler, an adventurer, a pioneer, and, for his many descendants, a family man.
The intertwining waves of the sea symbolize those that beat on the shores of the Azores Islands and those that beat on the shores of all the continents and islands where Azoreans stop.
The use of this drawing in the project Saudades da Terra was very kindly offered by Luke Marston, in recognition of the support that various Azorean entities have given to the Shore to Shore project.

The piece is implanted in the center of the Emigrant Square, with an area of approximately 4,000 m², located in front of Arquipélago – Contemporary Arts Center, in the city of Ribeira Grande, São Miguel Island, Azores. Between the beach area and the Square and the Center there is no visual obstruction, in order to highlight the piece, the Square and the sea.
The floor of the Square symbolizes the sea, executed in white Portuguese cobblestone.


The waves breaking, one by one, the great waves of the desired worlds, in a longing so often loaded with the impossible, as if time was made of delays, in circles, traveling over the agony of this vague world, in the endless approach of new horizons, of the dreams they dreamed of having, and in this tangle of circles or globes is a clear allusion of the DNA helix, where the heartbeat that sustains the rhythm of the Emigrants merges with those who will pass over this sidewalk.

Cobblestone of the Worlds, although it was not my first choice, was the option most voted for when the several sketches were presented at the Ribeira Grande City Hall and, from there, all the collection that I had already done, provisionally, served as the basis for the project’s development.

The contribution of the information for the realization of the work: understanding, analyzing, looking, appreciating and, above all, FEELING, because the purpose and objective of the work were, essentially, the feelings of the Emigrants, but also the involvement of the space with other plastic artists and architects, that would result in a harmonious combination, without clashes of diverse styles and never forgetting the responsibility of the proximity to Arquipélago – Contemporary Arts Center.

Knowing beforehand that we were going to make a square in typically Portuguese cobblestones, the material was automatically chosen and, obviously, in limestone or, eventually, basalt, much more difficult to handle. Countless sketches were made until the effect of the movement I wanted was achieved, of circles that reminded us of real and hypothetical worlds, of moving waves, bouncing foam, and even the spiral of DNA, Azorean DNA.

The result was translated into an area of 1,300 square meters, starting at the sidewalk next to the Emigrant Square, invading this territory with “worlds” interspersed with black and white stone, with 18 diameters ranging from 20 to 190 centimeters, safeguarding the space of the main sculpture of the square, which is the World, presented by Luís Silva. In this phase of work, with a much more elaborated technical sample, through computerization and not only, I counted on the collaboration of the Architect Fernando Monteiro and the 4th Year of Architecture student Gonçalo Lopes.

Although this was not the design of my first choice, I feel satisfied and am convinced that I achieved my goal: the emotions, the movement of the waves that roll on and on, the drama of the black and white colors, creating a space where children will enjoy playing and adults will think. The good will that exists in everyone involved in this project contributes a lot to this.

The Team

Luís Silva (Artistic concept)
Luiz Gonzaga Pereira (Building Project)
Rui Faria (Support)
José Luís Raposo (Collaboration)
Louis Borges (Technical Support)
Carlos Meneses (Cobbler)

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