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Portuguese fort in Ouidah in Benin under construction

Ouidah - Benin

The Fort Portugais in Ouidah is a historic gem nestled in the heart of Benin, which recently underwent an extraordinary metamorphosis with landscaping designed by the agency.

Built in 1721, the Fort Portugais is much more than just a fortress. It is a living testimony to the history of Benin, bearing the marks of time and the trials it has endured. This historic site, once in a state of disrepair, is now destined to regain its former grandeur, thanks to an innovative vision on the part of the Beninese government.

Aware of the Fort Portugais' potential as a tourist attraction and memorial site, the government has undertaken to transform it into a landmark for tourism in Benin. This ambitious project aims not only to preserve the existing structures, but also to highlight the fort's rich history, enabling the conservation of the many works of art housed there. And so our work as landscape designers begins ...

Project to rehabilitate the Portuguese fort in Ouidah
garden with orange trees and stone wall in Benin

A revisited esplanade

The new esplanade that encircles the Fort Portugais in Ouidah, following our rehabilitation project, is a harmonious example of the alliance between nature, local culture and history. The meticulously designed zoysia grass terraces provide a green and welcoming setting for visitors, locals and tourists alike.

These grass terraces are laid out in successive levels, creating a stepped landscape that blends naturally into the surrounding terrain. The turf is made up of drought-resistant varieties adapted to the climatic conditions of the Ouidah commune. This design not only maintains a pleasing aesthetic, but also reduces maintenance requirements, providing a user-friendly space at any time of year.

Along the grass terraces, low walls of local stone (granite) have been carefully erected. These walls, made from materials sourced locally, add an authentic dimension to the landscape, evoking local history and culture. Local stone is chosen not only for its durability, but also for its ability to harmonize with the surrounding natural environment.

The spaces between the terraces are enhanced by carefully selected landscaping to create a serene and pleasant ambience. Native plants, ornamental shrubs and flower beds are judiciously arranged to add touches of color and emphasize the natural beauty of the site.

the garden inside the Portuguese Fort
undergrowth garden in the Portuguese fort in Ouidah
green esplanade in front of the Portuguese Fort

The fort's interior refurbished but preserved

The interior of the Portuguese Fort, transformed by our rehabilitation project, is now home to an enchanting undergrowth garden, offering an immersive experience in the heart of nature. Key elements of this theme include:

Undergrowth Garden: Inside the fort's ramparts, an undergrowth garden flourishes between the majestic mango trees already present. Winding paths create a verdant labyrinth that invites visitors to explore the nuances of the vegetation and marvel at the botanical diversity.

Paths between the mango trees: Carefully mapped paths wind between the mango trees, offering a picturesque stroll through the garden. The mango trees, with their dense foliage, create refreshing areas of shade, inviting you to take a leisurely stroll sheltered from the tropical sun.

Potager des Plantes Endémiques et Culturelles: At the heart of the garden, an educational vegetable garden showcases Benin's endemic and cultural plants. Both functional and instructive, this garden reflects the richness of local biodiversity and offers an immersion in traditional agricultural practices.

Carefully arranged beds: Beds of exotic and indigenous plants are carefully arranged, adding touches of color and texture to the environment. The diversity of plants creates a pleasing aesthetic and contributes to the preservation of local biodiversity.

Computer signage: Signage panels are strategically positioned to inform visitors about the different botanical species present in the garden. These panels offer details on the richness of Benin's endemic flora, underlining the importance of conservation.

Relaxation areas: Relaxation areas are scattered throughout the garden, equipped with rustic wooden benches. These areas offer pleasant stops for visitors wishing to rest, meditate or simply contemplate the surrounding nature.

Soft lighting: To extend the experience beyond daylight, soft lighting is integrated, highlighting the remarkable features of the undergrowth garden while preserving a calm, natural atmosphere.

Thus, the interior of the Portuguese Fort offers much more than a simple historical visit; it offers a captivating immersion in a carefully preserved ecosystem, combining natural beauty with the cultural richness of Benin. This undergrowth garden becomes a place of contemplation, education and preservation of local biodiversity within this emblematic site.

interior view of the Portuguese Fort in Benin

Location: Ouidah (BENIN)

Landscape designer: Landscape Consulting

Contractor: Kendal


The rehabilitation project has a number of ambitious objectives:

  • Preservation of existing structures: The aim is to maintain the integrity of the fort's existing structures, thus ensuring the preservation of its architectural heritage.

  • Historical enhancement of the fort: The aim is to revive the fort's history, highlighting its architectural elements and its role in the past, thus offering visitors an immersive experience.

  • Enabling the conservation of numerous works of art: The project will incorporate the preservation and display of works of art, helping to enrich the cultural character of the site.

  • Welcoming the local population as well as foreign tourists: By facilitating access to the fort, the project aims to create a place of encounter and exchange for both the local community and international visitors.

  • Make the site an emblem of memorial tourism and Benin as a destination: By elevating the fort to the status of a tourist emblem, the project aims to strengthen the site's memorial appeal and contribute to the development of Benin as a destination.


The environmental studies underpinning this project are rigorous and focused on reducing impacts, both during the construction phase and in the long-term management of green spaces.

  • Vegetated surface for optimum water management: A large vegetated surface has been designed to improve water resource management. Combined with laterite soil and a strategically shaped relief, this approach limits soil impermeability and helps to control a large proportion of rainwater.

  • Local, sustainable materials: The materials used were chosen with an emphasis on their local origin, thus promoting a low carbon footprint. The use of materials such as local granite, indigenous teak and endemic plants contributes to the sustainability and authenticity of the project.

  • Social integration and local employment: As part of our commitment to social responsibility, the landscaping was designed to be carried out by local workers. All elements, from benches to borders, can be manufactured on site using a variety of moulds and carpentry techniques, ensuring the creation of local jobs and the long-term maintenance of the Fort Portugais green spaces.


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