dossier BAIRROS: Filipa Ramalhete + Bruno Neves . The neighborhoods seen by his resident’s

Abstract: Neighbourhoods are designed in their spatial, time and urban component. In this study, the social component will be especially emphasized through the survey of the population that lives, inhabits, uses and represents these neighbourhoods. In the approach to this component, it is fundamental to try to perceive the neighbourhood as a physical space, in its urban and historical component, but also as a space that sets social practices. Although there are already some works of importance about this theme, there are always questions subject to others developments. In this text, an analysis of the facts and some conclusions and reflections about the neighbourhood in 21st century Lisbon is presented.


Filipa Ramalhete: Centro de Estudos de Arquitetura, Cidade e Território (CEACT), UAL, Portugal and Centro de Estudos de Geografia e Planeamento Regional (e-GEO), FCSH-UNL, Portugal,


Bruno Neves: Centro de Estudos de Arquitetura, Cidade e Território (CEACT), UAL, Portugal,


© Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved

Campo de Ourique. Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved


The neighbourhoods according to their residents’ definition - experience and evaluation in six neighbourhoods of Lisbon


1. Introduction

The city of Lisbon is made up of differentiated urban realities and different, being the concept of neighbourhood one of the constant references, as historical, architectonic and social reality, present in the scientific literature, but also in the strategies and planning policies (1). Although there are some works about this theme (especially in the domains of sociology, architecture and town planning), there remain questions which are subject to other developments. For its study and comprehension, it is fundamental to approach the neighbourhood as a physical space, in its urban planning and historical component, but also as a space that conCharts social practices, insofar as it is used, experienced and represented by the residents and users.

The project that puts this study into context opted, since its beginning, to discuss the concept of neighbourhood from the social, urban planning, historical, and etymological viewpoint, having as its aim the deepening of the concept of neighbourhood, but also to study the possible differences between the several kinds of neighbourhood. It became fundamental to characterize its residents, resorting to surveys, but also to answer the following questions: what makes residents consider a place a neighbourhood? Its characterization? What are its more positive and negative aspects? Which experiences traditionally associated with the neighbourhood (street life, mutual knowledge, commercial dynamics and proximity services) exist? To live in a certain neighbourhood meets the expectations and desires of its inhabitants? Finally, where and how is it located for those who live in it, knowing that the limits of neighbourhoods do not match administrative limits but the superimposition of mental cultural maps (2).

2. Methodology and data collection

The selection of case studies was the result of the analysis and creation of a typology (see text of this dossier of Soares, 2014) where two big subtypes of neighbourhood were identified – "with" and "without plan" - and, in these, subdivisions by age and type of construction. The choice of the neighbourhoods to be studied with more detail resulted from the combination of some options chosen by the team of survey:

- to select representative neighbourhoods of the several kinds and ages identified;

- to find a balanced geographical distribution regarding the city;

- to select neighbourhoods that did not belong to municipal management ("social neighbourhoods", built especially after 1974), as it was considered that they corresponded to a different reality within the group of planned neighbourhoods;

- the choice of unplanned neighbourhoods should be based in neighbourhoods less studied in previous survey (see text by Ramalhete and Cat, 2014).

All of the criteria were totally fulfilled, with the exception of the geographical distribution, as no example was selected from the eastern area of the city, due to the observation of other criteria, in a scale of priorities.

The first neighbourhoods selected were Graça and Campo de Ourique, the first one for the ‘unplanned’ typology and the second for the ‘planned’ typology, but both from before the 20th Century. The selection 20th century neighbourhoods was a little more complex. In the case of unplanned neighbourhoods, we searched for a case where the definition of neighbourhood could not be evident, regarding urban growth and the morphological, architectonic or social diversity, which is why we opted for Ajuda. Regarding planned neighbourhoods, Alvalade was the last neighbourhood to be selected as it was considered that, although there have been studies carried out in the context of urban planning and architecture, it would be important to complement this information regarding the space of the plan with the spatial and social perception of the same neighbourhood. Telheiras and Galinheiras were the 20th century neighbourhoods selected, for the typologies "planned" and "unplanned", respectively.

Observation of all of the neighbourhoods and some exploratory interviews were carried out before the beginning of the fieldwork, in order to confirm the pertinence of their selection in the scope of this study. The interviews carried out in Ajuda and in Telheiras (with representatives of the parishes of Ajuda and Lumiar and of the Association of Residents of Telheiras) were particularly important for the corroboration of their interest within the goals of the study.


2.1. Survey to the residents of the neighbourhoods (3)

After the selection of the case studies, an survey a questionnaire was applied to hundred residents in each one of the six neighbourhoods, resulting in six hundred questionnaires carried out between October 2010 and December 2012. Apart from the questionnaires, there were several visits to the neighbourhoods, for observation. Campo de Ourique was the first neighbourhood where the questionnaire was applied, a pre-test having been conducted to understand and rectify some questions. Afterwards, we opted for a simultaneous application of questionnaires in ‘planned’ and ‘unplanned’ neighbourhoods, allowing us to monitor and compare the results.

The project team, with the collaboration of students and young architects, was in charge of the fieldwork, creating teams that reported, orally or in writing, the observations made in the field to the project coordination.

2.2 Structure of the survey

In order to obtain relevant and comparable facts, an open questionnaire was designed with open and closed answers. The questions were structured according to the project goals and focused on the perception the respondents had of the neighbourhood, its characteristics and limits, being distributed in two parts, "spatial characterization" and "sociocultural characterization" (4).

The questionnaires were carried out in person, in more or less central public spaces in the neighbourhood. The respondents were randomly chosen but in order to cover a wide range of age groups and a gender balance.

The facts were subsequently inserted and treated in Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software, allowing for discussion in the present set of papers. The data regarding the open answers were analysed individually and subsequently categorized.

2.3 Survey to non-residents

Alongside the questionnaires to residents, a survey was applied to non-residents in the neighbourhoods in analysis. This aimed to perceive not just the kind of socio spatial relations existing between the neighbourhood and the city around it, but also to obtain a confrontation of perspectives. The questionnaire was shorter and covered a sample of twenty respondents per neighbourhood, in a total of hundred and twenty non-residents. The facts collected from these questionnaires were used especially for debate and qualitative analysis, with special highlight in the spatial component (see Marques e Machado, 2014).

3. Result analysis

The following analysis is based on data collection during fieldwork (questionnaires, observation and interviews) and the population censuses carried out by the National Statistics Institute (NSI), in 2001 and 2011. The population and housing censuses, conducted every ten years, are composed by alphanumeric and geographical facts, based on statistical subsections delimited by criteria and needs pertaining to the collection of statistical and demographic facts. Therefore, it is not possible to establish a direct relation between these and the neighbourhoods’ geographical limits (that do not result from recognized administrative limits), or to establish a dynamic analysis with a total correspondence between censuses, since the limits of the statistical subsections have suffered changes in the last decades.

Therefore, to perform the characterization of the neighbourhoods studied our reference was the limit as expressed by 60% of the respondents (see text of Marques and Machado in this dossier), compared with a Common Base (created by Rodrigues et Al (5)). This was created through a dosimetric mapping, where, through geographical information of control, it is possible to reallocate the census information for the intended geometry. This exercise is made through the spraying of geometrical units that result from the crossing of two bases and their subsequent aggregation. For the tally, we considered the subsections of the Common Base with over 50% of their area inside the limits of the neighbourhood.

It was thus possible to obtain the characterization of the population of the area identified by 60% of the respondents as being their neighbourhood, as well as to compare facts of 2001 and 2011, for that same area and in the municipality of Lisbon.


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Telheiras. Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved


3.1 Characterization of the neighbourhoods studied

The crosschecking of data described in the previous paragraph allows for a brief demographic analysis of the neighbourhoods in the study regarding the following parameters: gender, age, population density, employment status and number of houses owned /leased. The data are presented by neighbourhoods and for the city of Lisbon, for 2001 and 2011.

The distribution by gender in the studied neighbourhoods is similar to the global distribution of the city, the number of women being higher than the number of men. The two neighbourhoods where the percentage of men is higher compared to the one registered in the city are Galinheiras and Telheiras, the most recent neighbourhoods in terms of urban planning and the youngest in terms of population. Comparing the data regarding 2001 and 2011, we realize that the distribution is constant, but that there was a decrease in population in all of the neighbourhoods except Telheiras (with an increase of 20%, possibly due to neighbourhood’s urban planning growth in the last two decades). Graça, Campo de Ourique and Alvalade were the neighbourhoods that lost more population.


Table 1 – Population distribution by gender and population variation according to the neighbourhood and the total of the city (NSI 2001, 2011) 


Regarding age distribution, Graça, Campo de Ourique, Ajuda and Alvalade are the neighbourhoods with more elderly residents in the city of the Lisbon. The population of Galinheiras and Telheiras - historically more recent and which correspond to the expansion of the city near its administrative limits in the last decades of the 20th century – is young than the average in the city. However, Telheiras reflects a different reality, registering 74.3% of population between 25 and 64, in contrast with 66.5% in Galinheiras, a result closer to the city average and which evidences a different type of resident. Telheiras initiated its construction in the 1970s and 80s and many of the young persons that acquired their houses there are today in the age range of 65 and above. We also need to add that Galinheiras, when compared to Telheiras, possesses a higher percentage of population over 65 and between 20 and 24, which confirms the idea that many residents moved to this area in the 1990s as a result of the promotion of social housing.



Table 2 – Distribution and variation of population by ages according to the neighbourhood and the city’s total (NSI 2001, 2011)


Population variation is negative in all of the neighbourhoods for all age ranges, except in Telheiras, where the ranges have a positive variation, especially in terms of the "65 +" which increased 158.7%, due to the reasons presented, and in Galinheiras, where the population over 65 increased, possibly due to first occupants of the neighbourhood entering this range. Comparing with the demographic dynamics of the city, all the remaining neighbourhoods reveal a steeper decrease in population than in the city of Lisbon as a whole, especially so in Graça, the neighbourhood where the dynamics of the city is more evident.

Regarding the population density we have to refer that, in spite of representing around 3.6% (3.1 km2) of the city’s total area (85 km2), these neighbourhoods house, in total, 7.4% of the population of Lisbon, Telheiras being the most and Galinheiras the least crowded. However, regarding the area of study of the neighbourhoods, Campo de Ourique and Graça (the oldest neighbourhoods) are the most densely populated, followed by Galinheiras, Telheiras and Alvalade. Ajuda registers a smaller population density; perhaps because it possesses, within its area, military buildings and the National Palace of Ajuda, a considerably large area with few residents. The average population in Lisbon is lower, but we have to consider that the municipality includes vast non-residential areas (as green areas and equipment). The neighbourhoods studied are mainly residential areas with expressive population densities in the context of the city. 


Table 3 – Population density of the neighbourhoods and of the city of Lisbon (NSI 2011) 


If, in terms of age distribution and gender, the differences between neighbourhoods are already visible, when it comes to education, those differences are even more evident. Galinheiras arises as the neighbourhood with the least educated population (81.1% up to the 9th grade), followed by Ajuda (61.7%) and Graça (59.2%), while the residents of Alvalade and Telheiras are clearly above the percentage of residents of Lisbon with BA or higher (33%). Campo de Ourique, in compensation, is very similar to the city’s distribution.



Table 4 – Distribution of the residents in terms of education according to neighbourhood and to the city (NSI 2001, 2011)


We must emphasize that the generalized increase of education level in residents, namely with the positive variation in the number of graduates and BAs (50% of increase of BAs in the city’s total), is due to Ajuda (102%), Campo de Ourique (60%) and Graça (58%), the neighbourhoods where the number of BAs grew the most, although its weight regarding the total population is still low. This can indicate, on the one hand, the qualifications of the residents, and on the other hand, some degree of gentrification in these neighbourhoods.

Though a complete analysis is impossible using the indicators provided by censuses, the link between education and job will add to the socioeconomic characterization of the neighbourhoods. Thus, this is of particular importance, insofar that bigger or smaller social heterogeneity is reflected in the neighbourhood’s social capital, as well as in the image that it has of itself and the one that is projected to the outside. In terms of education, Alvalade is the more heterogeneous neighbourhood, Galinheiras and Ajuda the ones that present a minor diversity and Campo de Ourique the one that is closest to the distribution of the city’s total.

Although a direct link cannot be established, there is a clear relation between the age structure and the work status, education and the residents’ job sector. Telheiras, Alvalade and Galinheiras are the neighbourhoods where the percentage of population with a job is higher and, simultaneously, that percentage is higher than the average of the neighbourhoods in analysis. Galinheiras is also the neighbourhood where there are more jobless people, followed by Graça. Telheiras is different from the remaining neighbourhoods due to the high percentage of population working in the tertiary sector, a fact related to the upper level of education. The high percentage (30%) of jobless population in this neighbourhood is due to the number of students in higher education. The neighbourhoods of Graça, Campo de Ourique, Ajuda and Alvalade are the ones that present a high percentage of retired population, given that, as it was previously verified, these are the neighbourhoods with the oldest population.

Between 2001 and 2011, the development (similar in the neighbourhoods and in Lisbon’s total, defined by the decrease of all activities) is significant in terms of the increase in number and percentage of unemployed in all of the neighbourhoods and in the decrease of number of residents with no economic activity, which can be related to the steady decrease of the female population that never worked ("homemakers"). There was an increased percentage of workers in the tertiary sector and of retired in all of the neighbourhoods, although, in absolute terms, it barely increased in Telheiras, where the percentage doubled, an evidence of its first inhabitants having reached the retirement age. 



Table 5 – Distribution of residents according to job status (NSI 2001, 2011) 


Another interesting data is the relation that of owned or rented house. Since there is a balance between these two possibilities in Lisbon (55% home owners, 45% tenants, accounting for only these two possibilities and not regarding other situations such as concession), the neighbourhoods evidence differences, given most houses in the studied neighbourhoods are leased, exception being Alvalade and Telheiras. In the case of Alvalade, the houses which previously belonged to the State and built in the scope of the plan performed in the 40s were sold to the tenants in the beginning of the 90s, thus partly explaining the high percentage of owned lodgings (62%). In Telheiras, the first phase of construction, in charge of EPUL, was for sale and was acquired especially for first residence. This trend continued in the following decades.

Regarding variation between 2001 and 2011 - despite the differences in terms of absolute numbers that show an increase in the number of unoccupied homes – the balance between owned and leased homes continued. In the city of Lisbon as a whole, there was an increase in the number of homeowners, which also occurred in Graça, Campo de Ourique and Alvalade, while in Ajuda and Galinheiras the balance remained and in Telheiras there was a slight increase in leasing.



Table 6 – Distribution of the number houses owned and leased, according to neighbourhood and city’s total (NSI 2001, 2011)  


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Galinheiras . Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved


3.2 Characterization of the population

We will now focus on the social and cultural characterization of the population in the studied neighbourhoods. We must briefly describe the differences between our characterization and that of the censuses.  These arise from our data collection having been performed in a public space, respondents having been randomly selected, and the survey having been applied by means of several researchers collecting data at a given time. Nevertheless, we tried to comply to the distribution observed in the census data.

The collected sample is similar to the distribution identified in the neighbourhoods in 2011 (given that one-hundred questionnaires  were carried out by neighbourhood, the gross data also corresponds to the percentage): the number of women is higher than the number of men, except in Galinheiras; Telheiras and Galinheiras have a younger population and the remaining neighbourhoods, Graça in particular, an older population; Galinheiras has more respondents with a low level of education and the opposite occurs in Telheiras (where, however, a number of respondents had a higher education degree – mainly younger population - similar to the ones in other neighbourhoods), and the remaining neighbourhoods showed  a more homogeneous distribution.

Furthermore, regarding the type of residence (owned or leased), the survey showed results similar to those of the censuses (predominance of leased houses in Graça, Campo de Ourique, Ajuda and Galinheiras and of homeowners in Telheiras and Alvalade). 



Table 7 – Synthetic Chart of survey respondents divided by neighbourhood (gender, age, education, and situation regarding residence) 

In terms of qualifications, this data (collected in open question and subsequently categorized based on the CAE - Portuguese Classification of Economic Activities) allows for a better understanding of the respondents and the differences among the neighbourhoods. Telheiras and Galinheiras are different from the other neighbourhoods as Telheiras has many residents working in  intellectual activities and at intermediate level, personal service activities; and, Galinheiras has many residents devoted to personal service activities, as well as working in factories and in construction (of the two, Telheiras evidences less diversity). The remaining neighbourhoods present a more balanced distribution in regards to professions. 


Chart 1 – Classification of respondents divided by profession and by neighbourhood, according to CAE. 

Noteworthy is also the weight of the number of residents that do not work. This is partly due to aging - the number of retired population is high -, and partly to the presence of unemployed or inhabitants without economic activity. This phenomenon allows us to observe that a significant percentage of the population spends a lot of time in the neighbourhood of residence, contributing to its dynamics. That is confirmed by data regarding respondents’ occupation. Only in Telheiras is the number of working respondents over 50% and of students, 20%. The retired population is predominant in Graça and Campo de Ourique. One must highlight the number of respondents that are unemployed in Galinheiras, one of the younger neighbourhoods.



Table 8 – Job situation in each neighbourhood 

Although the percentage of respondents with professional activity and working outside the neighbourhood where they live (55%) is higher than the percentage of those who work in the neighbourhood (45%), we must emphasize that 25.2% of respondents live and work in the neighbourhoods and thus contribute to its dynamics.


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Alvalade . Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved


3.3 A relação com o bairro

3.3 Relation with the neighbourhood

As previously referred, the survey applied to the residents focuses on their relation with the neighbourhood. In all of the neighbourhoods, the percentage of permanent residents is high: 21% of total respondents have always lived in the neighbourhood and 39% have lived there for more than twenty years. These Charts are more significant in the respondents over 60 years old, most of whom have been neighbourhood residents for a long time. The exception is Campo de Ourique, where some residents are more recent (6 to 20 years in the neighbourhood). This trend, although less significant, is repeated in the 31-60 age group, with residence in the neighbourhood mainly for over ten years. In Galinheiras, however there are more recent residents. Regarding young people, the answers are more balanced and differentiated, even if Campo de Ourique and Alvalade reveal a significant number of young people that have lived there for more than 10 years. 



Chart 2 – Population surveyed (from the total of valid answers) divided according to the number of years they have resided in the neighbourhood and to age. 


Noteworthy is the intensity of the neighbourhood relations. When asked to characterize their relation with the neighbours, the most significant answer in all of the neighbourhoods was "I am friends with some" (58%) followed by "I strike a conversation with some, but am friends with none" (35%). From the total of valid answers (596), only 42 (7%) of the respondents declared that they do not "strike a conversation" with any of their neighbours.

These data are clearly related with the duration of residence, given that many have lived there for more than twenty years and neighbourhood bonds have been made. Crossing neighbourhood relations with the number of years living in it shows that the number of respondents referring that they do not have any kind of relationship with their neighbours is negligible in all the categories. Among those that have resided for more years in the neighbourhood, friendship is common and among those that have resided between ten and twenty years in the neighbourhood (the smaller number of respondents), the trend is similar. Among the most recent residents (less than ten years in the neighbourhood), striking a conversation is more common (though slightly) than friendship relations.

There are not significant differences among the neighbourhoods. In all of them, a similar proportion of answers was registered, indicating that respondents know and are friends with neighbours, evidencing networks of solidarity that can helping residents to overcome the difficulties of everyday life. 



Chart 3 – Neighbourhood relations of the population regarding years of residence  


The question regarding home ownershiprevealed a predominance of homeowners: 47% of homeowners and 40% of tenants in the total of answers (the remaining answers correspond to other situations, for instance concession, janitors, and military installations or to respondents that did not answer this question). Analysing the results by neighbourhood, in Alvalade and Telheiras the number of homeowners is above the total average (71 and 80%, respectively).

Since the aim of the project is to understand the neighbourhood through its dynamics of daily life, the questionnaire included a group of questions regarding the activities traditionally connected to the experience of the neighbourhood and which are related to a series of consumption and leisure activities. Given the differentiation in the characterization of the neighbourhoods, one of the important questions was the kind of differences among them and how this was reflected in their image of the neighbourhood. The answers indicate that the majority of the respondents carry out all daily consumption activities inside their neighbourhood. Purchases unrelated to daily life are only mentioned in relation to Campo de Ourique and Alvalade, which evidences the quality and diversity of shops in these two neighbourhoods.  



Table 9 –Places where daily activities are carried out divided by neighbourhood 


Regarding the performance of some leisure activities, the neighbourhood was the main place where the respondents took a walk (81% in Alvalade, 77% in Telheiras, 76% in Graça, 73% in Campo de Ourique, 70% in Ajuda and 55% in Galinheiras). The respondents who usually take a walk outside the neighbourhood, or both in the neighbourhood and outside, are mostly those living in Galinheiras (24% outside of the neighbourhood) and in Ajuda (22% both). Therefore, the neighbourhood is a space of daily consumption, but also of leisure and proximity.

Regarding nightlife leisure activities, the main answer (over 50%) in the neighbourhoods where most residents are older/retired is "not applicable"; in Telheiras and Galinheiras, that activity is carried out outside the neighbourhood (58 and 44% respectively). In terms of movies and theatre, only Alvalade has a working cinema, which is evidenced in the answers (35% go to the movies in the neighbourhood). In the remaining neighbourhoods, the main answers are "outside the neighbourhood" (77% in Telheiras, 52% in Graça and 51% in Galinheiras) and "not applicable" (49% in Ajuda, 31% in Alvalade).

If the offer of movies or theatre is scarce or non-existent, the data regarding the practice of physical or sports activity has a similar distribution in terms of those who do not practice sports and those who practice sports inside and outside the neighbourhood. The following exceptions are noteworthy: Graça (53% "not applicable") and Campo de Ourique (41% "inside the neighbourhood").

More than characterizing the experiences of neighbourhood, these questions evidence the respondents’ cultural habits, even if conditioned by factors such as age, financial capacity, and transports. However, local business activities are very important in daily experience, not just in terms of small purchases (have a cup of coffee, buy a newspaper), but also in food purchase (in all of the neighbourhoods there is one or more local supermarkets, places of social convergence; the exception is Galinheiras, where there is a weekly fair,).


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Graça . Nuno Pires Soares - All Rights Reserved


3.4 What makes the neighbourhood?

Assuming that not all of the mainly residential areas existing in Lisbon correspond to neighbourhoods, we tried to perceive which essential elements are required for a space to be considered a neighbourhood by its residents. This was an open question in the questionnaire; therefore, the answers obtained were subsequently categorized and treated. The most repeated textual answer was "the people" (159 references), followed by "shops" (143 references). The third component which was more referred to was the one designated "neighbourhood life " and which includes collective experience of the space ("closeness", "relation between people", "knowledge of the neighbours", "camaraderie"). Mutual knowledge ("everyone knows everyone") was mentioned in 40 answers.

However, the distribution of these answers by neighbourhood presents some important differences. In Ajuda, Alvalade, Galinheiras and Graça (in this case, people and shops are mentioned), the component which confers the status of Neighbourhood is "people". In Campo de Ourique, the most referred component is " neighbourhood life” and, in Telheiras, "shops".

The neighbourhood’s business activity, street shops, mostly, is the second element most referred to in Graça and Alvalade. In Graça, Ajuda and Galinheiras " neighbourhood life" is referred to as the third most important component, position that, in Alvalade, corresponds to "location and accessibilities", in Galinheiras to "characteristics of the construction", in Telheiras to "service and equipment" and, in Campo de Ourique, to the assertion that a neighbourhood is the space where we can find everything that you need in your everyday life.



Chart 4 – Categorization of the three most chosen answers to the open question "what makes the neighbourhood?" (Occurrences by neighbourhood)


The answers obtained reveal, on the one hand, a consensus on the idea of belonging to the residents, on the dynamics they create and on shops (although in a smaller scale). This takes precedence in the creation of an experience of neighbourhood, understood as something special and specific. On the other hand, these components are also revealing of differences among the several neighbourhoods studied. For instance, Campo de Ourique appears as self-sufficient (which reinforces the importance of commerce in that neighbourhood), Alvalade and Telheiras is characterized by being so central and by its equipment, Galinheiras by the fact that it has no commerce (it was referred 3 times), but its architectonic characteristics and urban planning are relevant (references to "the houses" or "many 'villas'").

However, beyond the first level of homogeneity and consensus, we can see there are differences. The following chart systematizes all the components that were considered at least by 10% of the respondents of each neighbourhood as part of what makes the neighbourhood. Taking into account that this was an open question and that it allowed for many different answers, a wider consensus was verified in Graça and Campo de Ourique, precisely around social aspects, such as people, experience and commerce. In the remaining neighbourhoods, the importance of the space is mentioned. Location, accessibility and transportation arise in Ajuda, Alvalade and Telheiras as relevant elements. Only in the latter is there reference to public spaces, green spaces, services and equipment.



Table 10 – Aspects that make the neighbourhood, referred by at least 10% of the respondents and divided by neighbourhood  

The idea of neighbourhood, therefore, appears to be more complex and dependent on a wider range of components in Telheiras than in the remaining neighbourhoods, in spite of commerce being referred by over 40% of respondents. Telheiras is also the neighbourhood where social elements are less referred to. The fieldwork, namely the interviews with the Association of Residents of Telheiras and with the President of the Junta de Freguesia (1) allowed us to understand that the concept of neighbourhood is now firmer and verbalized in a more conscious form, considering that Telheiras is an area of recent expansion that "has become a neighbourhood". The urban and commercial dynamics, as well as the multiple cultural initiatives promoted by a wide group of residents have contributed to this. Many of these initiatives arise from other claims that the residents have developed since the beginning of the construction of this neighbourhood, in order for the town council of Lisbon to fulfil the promises of the development plan, namely concerning green spaces. This way, there is a clear intention of the population to create a feeling of neighbourhood in this more recent area of the city.

In others neighbourhoods (Graça, Campo de Ourique, Alvalade), the neighbourhood is seen as a dynamic space with business specificities. This is confirmed by the fact that commerce is clearly one of the elements that "makes the neighbourhood". Regarding the component "people", although it is very generic, it seems to indicate that the specificity of each neighbourhood is intrinsically related to something as intangible as the inhabitants of the neighbourhood itself and their interactions. Knowing that the population of each neighbourhood has its specificities, one can think that these are perceived and experienced by the inhabitants, which consider them as characterizing and distinctive of their neighbourhood.

3.5 Evaluation of the neighbourhood

A last item of the questionnaire focuses on an evaluation, which includes the reference to the neighbourhoods’ needs and to the respondents’ degree of satisfaction regarding the conditions of housing, exterior spaces, equipment, commerce, parking, security, transportation and quality of life, inhabitants and prestige of the neighbourhood. Since that is also an open question, the results were aggregated for comparison and systematization.

In general, commerce arises as one of the most positive components (168 references), reinforcing our conclusions in the previous items. Regarding the specificities of each neighbourhood, some differences should be mentioned. The respondents of Graça, Galinheiras and Campo de Ourique are relatively consensual in identifying the best of their neighbourhood. In Graça and in Campo de Ourique, it is noticeably commerce, followed by public spaces and the option "has everything" (Campo de Ourique and Graça), location and accessibilities and neighbourhood life (Graça). In the remaining neighbourhoods, opinions are scattered, with the respondents referring to a wider group of positive components. We can realize that there is an evident link between the components that create a neighbourhood and the most positive components. Galinheiras is the exception, with the neighbourhood being undervalued by its inhabitants, as shown in the chart below.

1- Translator’s note: the junta de freguesia is a political and urban planning unit common in Portugal, but without a clear correspondence in English. Although it can be translated as ‘parish’, it does not hold the religious significance that parishes hold. Therefore, the option was to leave it in the original language.



Chart 5 - Positive Components: "the best of the neighbourhood" (minimum, 10 occurrences per neighbourhood) 


Regarding negative components, the respondents highlighted mobility, transportation and quality of life, although implying different things. Graça and Galinheiras are the only exceptions, given that the respondents of the former also referred to degradation of buildings, and the latter focused on two internal problems, insecurity and social background of inhabitants, being displeased with the high number of residents from other nationalities or ethnic groups as a result of the most recent rehousing scheme. 



Chart 6 - Negative Components: "the worst of the neighbourhood" (minimum, 10 occurrences per neighbourhood) 

Negative components are confirmed with the respondents’ rank of satisfaction regarding a group of features that were to be tested through the questionnaire and that include neighbourhood, housing, subjective and objective conditions in terms of perceived quality of life.

We realized that the respondents are, generically, more satisfied with their houses than with the buildings where these are located and that, despite some differences among neighbourhoods (the rank of satisfaction with the buildings is higher in Alvalade and Telheiras than in the remaining neighbourhoods and Galinheiras is the neighbourhood where more dissatisfaction was shown regarding the cost of housing), dissatisfaction is not predominant in any of these three aspects. 



Chart 7 - Degree of satisfaction with the house, associated costs and with the building, by neighbourhood 



Chart 8 – Degree of satisfaction with commerce, equipment, accessibilities, transportation and exterior spaces, by neighbourhood 



Chart 9 - Degree of satisfaction with safety, prestige, inhabitants and quality of life, divided by neighbourhood 


Of the list of characteristics that respondents had to evaluate, commerce is clearly the most satisfying, in accordance with the data previously referred. A high degree of satisfaction - "very satisfied" – was mainly registered in all of the neighbourhoods (83% in Alvalade, 80% in Graça, 78% in Campo de Ourique) and even in Galinheiras, where 21% of respondents revealed to be dissatisfied with the neighbourhood’s commerce, the majority evidenced their satisfaction in that regard.

The degree of satisfaction towards the other inhabitants of the neighbourhood is also high, except in Galinheiras, where negative references arise regarding the inhabitants of the council neighbourhoods built in the last ten years by the Lisbon town council. Of the studied neighbourhoods, this was the only one where respondents expressly mentioned social tensions. In Ajuda, there was also some tension, yet less continuous and not related to the degree of satisfaction with the neighbourhood. Also in Ajuda and Galinheiras, respondents stated less satisfaction in terms of the prestige of the neighbourhood (even if dissatisfaction was only marked in Galinheiras). On the contrary, in the remaining four neighbourhoods the degree of satisfaction with the prestige of the neighbourhood is very high.

Insecurity is another item of dissatisfaction - especially in Graça, Ajuda and Alvalade - although it was only very significant in Galinheiras (77%).

Parking is the item about which there is more concern. Telheiras is the exception, with 34% of the surveyed residents saying they are "very satisfied" with parking. Galinheiras should also be mentioned because there are more respondents very satisfied and satisfied with parking in the neighbourhood (48%) than "dissatisfied" (47%) ones. These data can be complemented with the high degree of satisfaction towards public transportation. Respondents living in neighbourhoods with subway or quick access to it (Alvalade, Telheiras and Galinheiras) express higher satisfaction in regards to transportation. Yet, in Graça and Campo de Ourique, satisfaction is also very high. In Ajuda, the concern regarding the maintenance of the tramline was a recurring subject during the survey, leading to somewhat distinct results, but respondents tended to evaluate transportation as satisfactory or highly satisfactory.

Regarding the neighbourhood’s public spaces, Campo de Ourique and Telheiras are the ones where respondents are most satisfied, whereas Ajuda and Galinheiras have the least satisfied, a trend maintained in the evaluation of education and health equipment (lesser satisfaction in Galinheiras, Graça and Ajuda).

The question regarding the degree of satisfaction with the neighbourhood’s general quality of life somewhat reflects global evaluation, which can be thus summarized: the answers "dissatisfied" were not higher in any neighbourhood than "very" or "somewhat" satisfied. Telheiras evidences the highest degree of satisfaction towards the neighbourhood’s quality of life (70% "very satisfied" and 30% "somewhat satisfied") and, in Alvalade, the category "very satisfied" is also higher than the remaining (57%). In Graça, Campo de Ourique and Ajuda, the respondents are mainly (over 50%) "somewhat satisfied" (48% in Galinheiras, where 29% chose the option "dissatisfied"). Despite the differences, the degree of satisfaction in all neighbourhoods is generally high.

This situation if reinforced through the analysis of the answer to the question "Which are the three best neighbourhoods to live in Lisbon?” Since the question was open and encompassed three, hierarchically organized answers, the sum of these allows us to observe a predominance of the factor of geographical proximity, as is the case of the option for Lapa by the respondents in Campo de Ourique and of Restelo by the ones of Ajuda. Another outstanding factor in the choices are those neighbourhoods with similar or upper social representations, as Restelo to the respondents of Telheiras, or Alfama to the respondents of Graça. However, Campo de Ourique and Alvalade seem to gather some consensus as the best neighbourhoods to live in. 



Table 11 - Best neighbourhood to live, by neighbourhood (Reference number) 


These evaluations are complemented with another open question: "Where would you like to live if you had to leave your neighbourhood?". 21% of respondents did not present any answer because they did not wish to leave their neighbourhood. The remaining answers revealed personal preferences related with family ties or with the respondents’ place of birth. Therefore, a pattern of options was not registered, and there was not a clear relation between the desire to change and the neighbourhoods identified as the best.

Though with a slightly higher percentage, we can observe that Campo de Ourique is the preferential neighbourhood in three cases: Graça, Ajuda and Telheiras. In Graça, 86% of the respondents do not present better alternatives to their neighbourhood. In Alvalade, the only reference that arises is an eventual move to the "countryside", expressing a vague desire to live outside the city. In Galinheiras, there are references to Lumiar. Of the remainder, the preferences are returning to where one was born, but no preferences were stated regarding other neighbourhoods in Lisbon.


4 Discussions and Analysis

We will now discuss some aspects of the questionnaire that are going to clarify the questions with which the project started, designed so as to identify common elements in the neighbourhoods and put forth possible interpretations of the differences.

4.1 The love for the neighbourhood

Despite the already mentioned differences, there was a high degree of satisfaction expressed by the respondents regarding their neighbourhoods of residence. Based on the classification of the list of factors presented previously (twelve already mentioned and also the vicinity to work or study places), a general index of satisfaction was calculated, by attributing a weighted value to each one of the degrees of satisfaction: very satisfied (3 points), somewhat satisfied (2 points) and dissatisfied (1 point). This way, the index of satisfaction encompasses values between 1300 for a lower degree of satisfaction and 3900 for a higher degree of satisfaction regarding all items in the list. The following Chart presents this classification crossing it with the relative information of the respondents’ first choice regarding the best neighbourhood to live in. 



Chart 10 - General index of satisfaction, divided by neighbourhood


The general index of satisfaction is high and that there is a link between this and the respondents’ opinion about the best neighbourhood to live in. Alvalade presents the higher correlation, followed by Graça, Ajuda and Telheiras. In Galinheiras, only a lower percentage of respondents considered it the best neighbourhood to live in despite a relatively high global satisfaction. Campo de Ourique, though registering a high degree of satisfaction, is considered the best neighbourhood to live by only half of the respondents. In general, this high level of satisfaction towards the neighbourhood derives from many of the respondents having lived there for long, from strong neighbourhood ties and from having adapted to the conditions – whether positive or less positive – that that the neighbourhood evidences. The high level of dissatisfaction verified in Galinheiras shows social tensions that are somehow imposed from the outside and have consequences in terms of living in the neighbourhood.


4.2 Defining the neighbourhood: some final considerations.

The project Neighbourhoods in Lisbon aimed to better understand what the Neighbourhood is. Our first step was to know the opinion of its residents. We chose different typologies for the case studies so as to comprise possible differences among the different types. Despite some specificity, the conclusion is that there is a generalized consensus regarding two factors: a neighbourhood is defined by the group of activities, especially business, and by the social relations that develop therein. That is more relevant than by the architectural lines of the buildings or urban planning. This consensus remains though, in each neighbourhood, one can find different kinds of people. On the contrary, those differences can be at the root of the differences between the neighbourhoods. Though it may seem somewhat simplistic to state that (different) people make (different) places, the data collected allow us to ponder upon this subject, by establishing, for instance, that the more educated population of Telheiras is more critical regarding the neighbourhood, but also more engaged and organized, in an attempt to guarantee that the residential expectations are fulfilled, namely regarding equipment and exterior spaces. Focusing on people, nevertheless, raises some questions, namely the danger of stereotypes and "quirkiness" being associated to a certain type of population, and thus further social strata - especially if urban management that does not promote territorial social cohesion.

The importance given to self-sufficiency in the definition of neighbourhood should also be highlighted, as well as the relevance (regarding the age and years of residence) of the neighbourhood relations. Even if respondents go out of their neighbourhood to fulfil some of their consumption and daily leisure activities, the majority of respondents carries these out in the neighbourhood. The relevance of shops and leisure activities for the definition of neighbourhood also appears to be consensual. Shops in the vicinity are one of the most referred to and valued aspects - a catalyst of neighbourhood dynamics enhancing mutual knowledge and neighbourhood relations. The limited mobility of the inhabitants, many of them elderly, unemployed or without economic activity, also contributed to that confinement to the neighbourhood, voluntary or forced. Considering that business has such a prominent role in social practices - to the point of being an integral part of the concept of neighbourhood -, we conclude that we cannot think about the neighbourhood or change it (through planning, rehabilitation or other) without reflecting about the kind of business there was, is and will be and population that visits it or lives in it.

The decrease in population and its aging are a reality of Lisbon neighbourhoods, a scenario which will remain in the coming decades, is unprecedented and will lead to an increase in the number of empty or vacant homes. As the analysis of the case studies shows, since the link between population and neighbourhood is so close, some doubts arise as to neighbourhoods being able to maintain their dynamics if no policies are implemented that consider the neighbourhood an urban unit (of analysis, of management or of planning), something which has never happened.

In reality, the fact that this is a complex, hard to define and dynamic concept - due to its continuous changes in time and in space - does not stop the neighbourhood from being understood based on specific parameters, or its operationalization, both from the viewpoint of the study and analysis of urban territories, and from the viewpoint of the urban, social or other interventions. On the contrary, we advocate the importance of knowing and studying the cultural and social component of each neighbourhood in coordination with spatial interaction, not only so as to describe the population, but also so as to understand it as a self-defined space, one which produces a sense of identity for the community, namely in situations of social or urban planning. The examples of Telheiras and Galinheiras show that becoming a neighbourhood does not solely depend on a long period of shared experiences, but rather a "creation", something that, apparently, is an expressed desire of communities who believe that the neighbourhood represents an advantage regarding participation in urban life, something which continues to be viewed as positive.

The feeling of belonging to the neighbourhood and its value is not, however (or perhaps due to that), exempt of conflict and of tensions of social and territorial origin (and manifestation). Particularly, the tensions arising from the closeness to these council houses (or council schemes) demand a different approach to the problem so as to resolve it.

The results of this study aim, therefore, to reach a consensus on the neighbourhood as a territory where a group of social practices is inscribed, collectively recognized and recognizable, where space and community are intrinsically linked. This concept is both a homogenizer - given that what it is done in the neighbourhood is consensual in all of the cases of study - and a differentiator, since it exists a clear representation of each one of them regarding other realities of the city, either spatially (as we observe in Marques and Machado, in this dossier), or socially. The neighbourhood reveals itself capable of gathering a common aim. However, it demands a differentiating logic that forces us to a constant change of scale in the context of the analysis of the city, something both enriching and complex. The aim of this study is also to shed some light and leave some trails for a better comprehension and management of this complexity.


(1) Please, refer to the Strategic Lisbon Charter, presented in 2009 by the town council of Lisbon.


(2) This last theme is discussed in detail in the paper by Marques e Machado.


(3) We would like to thank: Carla Rock Gomes, Fábio Fonseca, Irina Solovyova, Isa Esteves, João Ortigão Branches, João Teixeira, Maria Castilho, Mariana Sepúlveda, Miguel Esteves, Pedro, Pedro Ribeiro, Sandra Lopes and Susana Blacksmith., Fieldwork was also performed by Maria Assunção Gato and Joana Afonso, of CEACT/UAL, and by Nuno Soares, of the e-GEO.


(4) The first part of the survey is divided in four subjects: characterization of the residential situation and opinion of the respondent regarding the neighbourhood (time of residence in the neighbourhood, previous places of residence, reasons for the change and typology of the housing, neighbourhood relations, place where you would like to live and the best neighbourhoods of Lisbon), opinion about the neighbourhood (open answers about what characterizes the neighbourhood, its weak and strong points and needs), degree of satisfaction with the neighbourhood in terms of a list of items (residence, public space, commerce and service, inhabitants, prestige, parking, security, closeness to places of work or study, transportation, quality of life) and daily activities, as for example, daily purchases and leisure activities. Lastly, the respondent was asked to define the borders of the neighbourhood on a map attached to the survey. The second part included a list of questions regarding the characterization of the population surveyed (gender, age, place of birth, education, work status, profession and job).


(5) See Rodrigues, A., Santos, T., Deus, R. F. De, & Pimentel, D. (2012). Land-Use Dynamics at the Micro Level: Constructing and Analyzing Historical Datasets for the Portuguese Census Tracts. In B. Murgante, G. Borruso, & A. Lapucci (Eds.), Computational Science and Its Applications -- ICCSA 2012 (pp. 565–577). Salvador da Bahia: Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-31075-1_42



Biographical Notes:


Filipa Ramalhete is an anthropologist, with a Masters and a Ph.D. in Territory Planning. She teaches at DA/UAL since 2000 (where she teaches anthropology of the Space, Geography and Territory and Methodology of the Scientific Work) and she is the director of the Architecture Studies Centre, City and Territory of UAL and of the magazine She is also a researcher of e-GEO – Geography Studies Centre and Regional Planning of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and she lectures Territory Planning and Environment in the Masters in e-Learning in Territory Planning and Geographic Information Systems. Her main research interests are studies of space applied to territory planning highlighting anthropology of the space and spatial justice.

Bruno Neves has a degree in Geography and Regional Planning, a Masters in Territory Management and is completing a Ph.D. in Geography and Territorial Planning at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He is a researcher of e-GEO – Geography Studies Centre and Regional Planning of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, he has is linked to Centre of Geographical Studies of the Institute of Geography and Territory Planning and more recently to the DINAMIA' CET Centre of Studies about Socioeconomic and Territory Change of ISCTE-IUL. His current research interests include the rise of seawater level and climatic change.