Lisbon’s architecture, Portuguese architecture, urban planning. Blog based in LISBOA ARCHITECTURE WALKS & TRIPS, a Lisbon-based independent agency, owned by a Portuguese architect, specialized in organizing architecture tours, group trips and events.
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The CITY in crisis in times of pandemic
In 2006, the architect Manuel Graça Dias published a compilation of texts written over 2 years for the Portuguese weekly newspaper Expresso, which he entitled Manual das Cidades (1).
Like no other, he was a man of the CITY. With pride, joy and immense pleasure of living in The CITY. All his theoretical work and buildings are generous invitations for us to like cities, as much as he did.
About 16 years after the publication, within the crisis we are going through worldwide, the questions and reflections of Manuel Graça Dias are more than welcome and absolutely relevant.
It begins as follows: Why do we like cities? What do we like about cities? Why do cities attract us?
"First of all, it is clear that the CITY is a collective territory, conformed to allow life in common. Many different people sharing, dividing, using a huge structure, built together (...) a project of collective life".
It just so happens, that this kind of public, collective territory, full of unpredictability is threatening (us) in times of pandemic. We are told that everything we like about cities, is what we should fear and avoid. The CITY is in crisis and all the theories and urban reforms seem now obsolete to us.
While the CITY is locked down, activities are accessible online, from home. The cultural offer on the Internet proliferates, it has never been possible before to watch online and for free the films on exhibition, the theatres that are on stage, the ongoing exhibitions in galleries and museums, all kinds of video conferences, etc...
Dozens of invitations for online events drop into my mailbox daily, but I have not been tempted to accept any of them. A trip to the cinema is worth so much more than watching a good film – among others, it allows us to enjoy the place. An empty cinema is desolating, so the more people, the better.
"Without denying the technological advances, perhaps we should question more critically the use we make of them and the way they can help us to introduce changes". M.G. Dias refers to the dilemma that, since the communication technologies subtract the CITY's experience from everyday life, sparing us the joys but also the confrontations and negotiations that community life presupposes, their indiscriminate use will accommodate us to isolation.
Like other cities, Lisbon is reopening its doors in stages, throughout the month of May. The process will depend on proper compliance with the rules. The virus has changed our life style, and the strict patterns of behaviour that we will have to follow will deprive us of freely enjoying the many overwhelming experiences that city life entails.
What kind of changes is this crisis making in our territory? What should we do to better continue "this superb heritage that is the physical territory built to our community life"? Will we continue to like the cities?
Last week Lisboa Architecture Walks & Trips took an in-dept look into the requalification project of Campo das Cebolas by the architect João Carrilho da Graça. A remarkable intervention! More successful than previous projects undertaken by Lisbon’s municipality, the intervention in Campo das Cebolas gives a new meaning to spaces which were once reclaimed to the river but became obsolete. The project transforms a fragmented territory into a coherent urban entity, providing a clearer understanding of a place with an exceptional location and a very rich historic narrative. Combining form and function as one, the intervention provides the area a renewed purpose and geometry, capable of bringing people back to Campo das Cebolas, and to improve the relationship between the City’s old river shores and the present ones. The second phase of the project will focus on the requalification of the “Doca da Marinha” in the southern side of the Avenida Dom Afonso Henrique. It is exp
Beyond Belem, Lisbon's metropolitan area extends along the“Costa do Sol”, an urban region built-up along the seaside, ending in Cascais to the west. The most popular images of Cascais depict a charming town with eclectic mansions, dotted around the bay, and the original fishermen settlement. There is however a contemporary nature in Cascais, linked to projects awarded to renowned Portuguese architects, following the turn of the millennium. Exploring the seashores and the interior of the town, we visit some of these remarkable projects, focusing on the restoration of classified built heritage and new buildings. Find more about our walks: Lisboa Architecture Walks&Trips / Walks Post and photo credits: Lisboa Architecture Walks&Trips
“(...) cities are collective territories, shaped for the possibility of a life in common. Of many different people, sharing, dividing, using an enormous structure, built together (...) mechanisms generating exclusion, making a few citizens “more citizen” than others, do not fit into this project (...)” (1) The “city” which corroborates the “right to the city” as a co-created space for urban life, where citizens are the main protagonists (2), is losing territory in port cities, such as Lisbon, where local government is using the city’s riverfront as a catalyst for short-term profit. A sustainable approach towards the redevelopment of Lisbon’s disabled industrial-port areas (which passed to the “public domain”) would ensure that the process would be implemented step-by- step, independently of economic cycles and short-term interests, in a way that present and future generations of citizens could benefit from it (3). It would equally involve the local communities in the plan