In the 1980’s in Portugal, following a trend that was already observed in many European cities, there was a paradigm shift in the attractiveness of cities, going from a centripetal stage (where the city attracted people to its centre) to a centrifugal stage (where the city expanded and dispersed horizontally). Since then and to this day, many of these suburbs grew without a plan and without any ambition of spatial planning, resulting in an expanded, dispersed and uncoordinated territory.
Despite the efforts of some initiatives in solving several peri-urban areas, the truth is most of them resulted in occasional improvements in a few medium-size cities and did not point out any solutions for the disengagement of the several suburban poles, still dependent on the metropolis. The role of the planner – an urban planner or an architect – is often far from any discussion of the suburbs, resulting in producing territorial management tools without “concept”, resulting in an overlapping of tools that actually do not help solve the problems, creating bigger contradictions. Even in terms of architectural production, very few architects receive commissions located in the suburbs, creating a professional myth that “there is nothing worth doing” unless it is in the city – except, of course, a weekend or holiday house in the countryside.
In this context, extending the discussion and possibly demystifying the suburbs, is hindered by the ambiguity and dispersion that the concept is able to absorb. The suburbs has become a word capable of integrating and signifying completely different places, as segregated neighbourhoods, the periphery, the outskirts of the city, bedroom communities, industrial areas, satellite cities, garden-cities, informal city, non-place or peri-urban territories.
Generally speaking and as a whole, we can say that the word suburbs predicts something inaccurate in the process of becoming tangible and recognizable; something that over the years has been used to organize several undefined territories, or that were being understood; something that is diffuse and complex. However, we have to face these new territories with a positive pro-activity, seeking new operational concepts and deepening our knowledge of the several real situations, in order to better understand the various types of suburbs and act on them as best as possible.
We hope this number ONE of “Estudo Prévio” can help the debate on this long issue that is in our unconscious and can transform the suburbs into fertile territories promoting solutions for human being’s “well living and well-being”.
ESTUDO PRÉVIO (Preliminary Study), it's the semiannual publication of the Centre for Architecture, City and Territory Studies (Centro de Estudos de Arquitectura, Cidade e Território) of Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa (CEACT/UAL).
With this publication we want to project a new place where it is possible to share knowledge with a simple conversation, with the accuracy of a technical article, with a book launching or with an open debate in the digital community.
The proposal to create another architecture magazine was, since the beginning, a challenge to choose a slightly different path and so we created an editorial line centred on the real conditions that determine an architectural production before any sketch or model or even before we become architects.
The permanent Crisis, the constant Natural Disasters, the development of the City Outskirts will certainly be topics that we would like to deepen in this publication, but also about other topics that affect and influence the Portuguese architecture, for instance the number of Portuguese architects now reaching 20.000, the number of architects at the verge of Unemployment, and on the other hand the growing diversity of New Professions where architects can make a contribution.
We want this publication to make a preliminary study “(ESTUDOPRÉVIO”)on teaching and practical aspects in architecture and extend the debate on the conditions and constraints of our profession, in order to continue to evolve by sharing experiences, opinions and research works. Only then can we build a solid base, open to find solutions to new problems and challenges that the world faces nowadays.
The core of this publication focuses on Interviews and on the open system of Submission of Articles. The Interviews will focus on generating conversations that float among the educational practices, research and professionals of each interviewee, can be read in Portuguese and English, and also can be heard on the web site; the Articles will be done in a call-for-papers system, selected by the editorial board.
In the same project we still have space to promote reading, book launches, and also the classics – books that have become important references for Architecture.