Culture-led urban regeneration and local expectations of urban void renewal in eastern Lisbon
A critical perspective on the social and spatial accomplishments of ROCK Pilot Projects in Marvila
This article will analyze the ongoing culture-led regeneration processes of abandoned, informal and vacant areas, often considered by residents, local associations, and public officials to be urban voids. Our territorial framework is in Marvila, a semi-peripheral riverside area in Lisbon, strongly affected by informal activities, high levels of youth unemployment, an elderly population, and the existence of urban spaces with non-planned uses, seen as undesirable by the local ecosystem of stakeholders and particularly by residents.
Our analysis will be centered around a social and spatial understanding of Lisbon’s municipal urban policy (funded by the 3.5.6. program of the European Union on Cultural Heritage), which has supported the reoccupation of some these so-called urban voids. We will focus on the use of a Pilot Project methodology, its exploratory and prototype nature, the local bureaucratic planning system, and the soft Planning techniques implemented as new ways of addressing long-term decayed and informal urban spaces.
We will examine the regeneration results of two EU-H2020 funded pilot projects, under the ROCK project, which supports this research. The first pilot project “Loja Com Vida” (“store with life” or “store invites”), supports the municipal objective of creating a new urban centrality in Marvila, encouraging a diversification of its users, operationalizing the reuse of municipal ground floor spaces. The second project, “Jardim para Todos” (‘Garden for all’), corroborates a municipal urban policy on environmental sustainability goals, promoting, with the help of local agents, a learning and sharing process centered around green knowledge and the creation of a future agriculture hub and leisure area.
The acknowledgment of these pilot project results will constitute an interesting case study for other urban areas with similar conditions, incorporating a better understanding of participative urban regeneration processes, outside the traditional and formal planning perspectives and achievements.
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