Portugal dos Pequenitos

Location Coimbra
Promotor Bissaya Barreto Foundation
Status In Progress
Year 2014-

Scope Integrated master-planning for a Visitor Attraction


Portugal dos Pequenitos is a theme park historically and pedagogically famous among generations of Portuguese. It was conceived by an influential Coimbra doctor and achieved with the help of Cassiano Branco who was one of Portugal’s greatest modernist architects. Since 1940, and in the context of the regime in power at that time, it has been a leisure-educational park essentially aimed at children and based on the theme of Portugal, its culture and its presence in the world; educating through a medium of play and learning in the midst of a unique miniature architectural representation of Portugal and its then colonies.

Portugal dos Pequenitos is the oldest and most visited theme park, or Visitor Attraction, of its kind in Portugal, celebrating 75 years in 2015 when the Bissaya Barreto Foundation decided to advance with a programme of expansion, revitalisation and repositioning of this unique asset. In addition to creating new “attractions”, the entire park will undergo renovation, especially in its interpretative content and supporting infrastructures.


Placemakers was chosen by the Bissaya Barreto Foundation to develop a turn-key expansion and regeneration project for Portugal dos Pequenitos.

With a multidisciplinary team adapted to the specific needs of the project integrating tourism and leisure development, Visitor Attractions, architecture, landscape and urban planning, Placemakers was responsible for the strategic integrated development of the project. This included context analysis and market study with socioeconomic characterisation and opportunities and threats identification. From a vision we created an overall concept for the park and specific concepts for its different “anchor” attractions, a viability analysis and a potential funding identification and analysis. We developed an integrated master-plan integrating an action plan for the project’s implementation, including support with the specialised supplier selection process. Placemakers also acts as advisor to the Foundation and assists in its contacts with public entities.

The Placemakers proposal aims to preserve the park’s original values, respecting its architectural legacy and learning-through-play philosophy, while at the same time enriching the visitor experience through a symbiotic relationship of old and contemporary Portugal. It promotes green areas for leisure, gardens and other ancillary infrastructures for the exploration and discovery of appealing content for children. But also for new publics such as families, schools and other groups including tourists and visitors of all ages.