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How do we design a habitat?

Sara Silva Lopes, João da Cunha Borges, Rui del Pino Fernandes e Teresa Marat-Mendes

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To all the authors and collaborators who made this Spring Special Issue possible, we leave our sincere thanks, and wish that the project finished in this issue will be successful in enlarging the questions regarding the habitat. A special thank you goes to the editorial team of CIDADES, Comunidades e Territórios, particularly Maria Assunção Gato and Mariana Leite Braga, for their assistance during the editorial process and to all the reviewers who, according to the journal’s peer review model, meticulously reviewed the submitted papers, supporting the quality of the publication.This thematic dossier is part of several research projects funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Foundation for Science and Technology), [SFRH/BD/148556/2019; SFRH/BD/151381/2021; DFA/BD/5568/2021], which are being developed at DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, Centre for Socioeconomic and Territorial Studies, University Institute of Lisbon.

1This Spring Special Issue of CIDADES, Comunidades e Territórios is a continuation of the thematic dossier published in December 2023, where we continue with the goal of offering a space for reflection and discussion, national or international, of housing and habitat, focusing particularly on the “influence and implications of urban design in territorial, social, economic and environmental sustainability”, a long subtitle that aims to express the complex and multifold aspects that need to be contemplated when approaching the habitat notion, as opposed to mere housing-provision.

2Like in the previous issue, we would like to emphasize the importance of confronting different narratives and territories for the creation of habitat. If by habitat we mean “an environment that may shelter the harmonious spiritual, intellectual and physical realization of its inhabitants”, a definition borrowed from CIAM IX, then the work is cut out for all of us who seek different views for the renovation of planning, urbanism, and architecture, to which the habitat concept may provide an ideal.

3In this Spring Special Issue, we collect five research articles, plus some additional materials, which offer different perspectives on many problems implied in habitat construction.

4Marta Vicente, Paula André, and João Branco Pedro, in “A brief history of a Pombaline building: Analysis of interior changes in the context of urban transformations”, reflect on how old buildings have adapted to social and economic change, a key issue of sustainability that seeks to reappraise the flexibility of space to halt the tendency for eliminating old buildings to replace them with new ones. The authors take a Pombaline building as a case-study, systematizing the changes it underwent, and concluding that the transformations of domestic space are inseparable from the transformations of the habitat.

5Vanessa Alves, Mafalda Teixeira de Sampayo, Teresa Marat-Mendes, and Inês Marques, in their paper “António Moreira Veloso: Modern Architecture in the Tabaqueira Workers’ Neighbourhood (1960-1974)” also present a case-study, but in this case a housing estate built for the workers of the tobacco factory of Albarraque, whose plan sought to establish residential units which combined functionality with the quality of life of the countryside, resorting to large green spaces. Concluding that the estate effectively formed a new centrality on the outskirts of Lisbon, they highlight the vision of the plan’s architect, without overlooking the paternalistic policies that gave rise to the development.

6“Inhabiting habitats of persistent functional segregation in public rental neighborhoods managed by the Instituto de Habitação e Reabilitação Urbana”, by Carlos Gonçalves, Mónique Borges, João Lourenço Marques and Sásquia Trigo focuses on socio-spatial segregation, which they argue is an impediment to participation and triggers symbolic stigmatization. The paper presents a methodology for assessing Persistent Functional Segregation and the results of its application to case-studies of public housing in Portugal, highlighting that the urban agglomerations they comprised have expanded substantially, while the condition of isolation has persisted.

7The paper “Marvila LAB: imagining collective housing in Lisbon”, by João Silva Leite, Sérgio Fernandes and Rui Justo, tackles the need to anticipate the fragmentation trend and the irreversible discontinuity between fabrics, memories and elements that constitute a place as a framework for observing the east riverside area of Lisbon, particularly the Marvila Civil Parish. The article presents the results of a pedagogical experience where Marvila became a laboratory for reflecting on housing systems that break the rigid limits between architectural objects and the city, seeking to systematize housing hypotheses where the building typology and the housing programme support a reconfiguration of architectural-urban scenarios.

8Finally, in the paper “We’ll make a town from pure nothingness: the transition from rural village to industrial suburb in the Pirescoxe village”, João Cunha Borges, Rui del Pino Fernandes, Sara Silva Lopes and Teresa Marat-Mendes reflect on the process of transformation of a village located in the periphery of Lisbon into a suburban town, through its regional context and accounting for the evolution of its typical building forms. By confronting the different kinds of interventions and results in the same area, the role of historical memory and collective space is highlighted as a decisive aspect to overcome the prejudices of the ‘featureless suburb’.

9In addition to these research articles, three additional elements complete this dossier.

10First, and signaling the 50 years of the Carnation Revolution (1974-75), we publish a fragment of an interview with architect José Silva Carvalho, discussing his work as the leader of the team of the SAAL intervention in Linda-a-Velha, Oeiras, from 1974 onwards. Issues of public participation processes and the role of the architect in this type of process are highlighted, beyond a plethora of episodes and anecdotes that will surely provide the reader with a lively and realistic account of the housing struggles during the revolutionary process.

11The book review written by Teresa Marat-Mendes presents the book Habitat: Ecology Thinking in Architecture, edited by Dirk van den Heuvel, Janno Martens, and Víctor Muñoz Sanz, which was published in 2020. This book review allows us to revisit the concept of Habitat as above defined, as an inherence of the CIAM IX, while disclosing some other possible roots and potential contributions to rethink Habitat within the scope of the contemporary Sustainability agenda.

12Finally, the recent demise of architect Raul Ceregeiro inspired a tribute also presented here, which includes an interview from May 2023, a series of testimonies from those who had the privilege of working with Raul Ceregeiro, as well as a photographic report of some of his constructed works. Although the interview focuses particularly on his collaboration in the Gabinete Técnico de Habitação (GTH), other aspects of Ceregeiro’s work are also recalled. In the 50th anniversary of the April Revolution, remembering Ceregeiro also means talking about the right to the city and housing, the role of architecture in combating inequalities, and the role of architecture in building the community, aspects which frankly concerned him.

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Sara Silva Lopes, João da Cunha Borges, Rui del Pino Fernandes e Teresa Marat-Mendes, «How do we design a habitat?»Cidades [Online], sp24 | 2024, posto online no dia 02 maio 2022, consultado o 18 junho 2024. URL:

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Sara Silva Lopes

DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, Sara_Alexandra_Lopes [at]

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João da Cunha Borges

DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, joao_cunha_borges [at]

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Rui del Pino Fernandes

DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, ruidelpino [at]

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Teresa Marat-Mendes

DINÂMIA’CET-Iscte, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal, teresa.marat-mendes [at]

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Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

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Apenas o texto pode ser utilizado sob licença CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Outros elementos (ilustrações, anexos importados) são "Todos os direitos reservados", à exceção de indicação em contrário.

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