[ a linha ]

atelier urban nomads | Luísa Alpalhão
Lisbon / London
Portugal / UK
Public space

[a linha] was one of the winning projects of the programme BIP/ZIP 2012 launched by Lisbon’s City Hall (Câmara Municipal de Lisboa). It consisted of 4 routes through Alfama, one of the historical neighbourhoods in Lisbon with an aging population and a run-down building stock. The routes marked 25 neglected spaces in the neighbourhood which then adopted the colours of the 4 lines - green, red , blue & yellow - depending on the programme that would inhabit them (green spaces, cultural events, business related spaces and play and sports). Those should allow local residents and visitors to navigate through Alfama in a more pro-active way engaging with those (formerly) run-down spaces.

The lines and specific activities were designed with the involvement of local schools that took the role of ambassadors of those colour-coded spaces. Various thematic workshops were run outdoors with the aim of getting the local residents to embrace the project and understand that small actions can have a powerful role in the way the public realm is used and shared.

All the construction re-used old timber (from furniture to pallets) and most builders were local unemployed residents who had an opportunity to be actively involved in the making of their spaces of gathering.

The end of the construction phase was marked with a day of events that took place in some of the 25 transformed spaces showing how those can gain a life of their own if appropriated by the local residents.

In what way does your proposal contribute to the open society?
[a linha] was conceived as a project that involved various local residents of Alfama, the neighbourhood where the project took place, from the very beginning until we (atelier urban nomads) left the territory. The involvement of local people all the way through the process (from entering the competition, to designing - during the workshops -, collecting materials and building) intended to make the project a free and democratic strategy for the design and making of public spaces, specially for those which had been neglected or left abandoned. Although the principle was clear and inclusive, involving a population that is reluctant or not used to be invited to participate sometimes defeats the initial intention of willing to get people as involved as possible. However, even if the initial target audience didn't all benefit from the process, many did. For those, who were actively involved [a linha] was a way of becoming the agents of change of our own built environment.

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