Lisbon Architecture: Neglect, Conservation, Demolition, Renewal or Urban Art – what are the alternatives?

John Chamberlain at the Guardian writes that “Officially sanctioned graffiti artists are not the answer to revitalising a beautiful city” when responding to recent Guardian travel article by Rachel Dixon –  Urban splash: street art in Lisbon in which she tours Lisbon and looks at the recent move by Crono Project to transform derelict buildings into large urban art pieces with graffiti and stencilling.

So what to do with derelict buildings awaiting demolition or a new lease on life?

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2 Comments on Lisbon Architecture: Neglect, Conservation, Demolition, Renewal or Urban Art – what are the alternatives?

  1. The article of Mr. Chamberlain doesn’t describe the (full) reality.

    All the informal graphic appropriation phenomenons (like graffiti meaningless scrawls, posters, stickers…) are strictly unauthorised and cleaned in all Lisbon.

    There’s going on a very successful (and by all citizens recognised), urban renewal operation since 2008. in Lisbon, Bairro Alto.

    This success certainly it’s related with a cultural mediation process, that include dialogue, knowledge sharing, and careful interventions (unique).

    All this it’s part of a well studied and academically back boned urban (meta)project. (Urbanism/ Architecture/ Engineering and Arts Universities, of Lisbon and Barcelona).

    In a very general overview, it consists in a (very small percentage) usage of the resources from the urban renewal, to a medium / long term needed dialog between the local citizens and their living environment.

    This tendentiously will reduce the costs of maintenance. Lisbon it’s learning from the errors of London or Barcelona, that see the expenses related to this issues, increase every year, in a non sustainable rate.

    I hope that can be the right opportunity to explain (with the possible detail) the mentioned (meta) project, that in reality goes in the same direction of the Mr. Chamberlain concerns, but in pragmatic (and practical, therefore vulnerable) terms.

  2. I lived there for a year so I share Chamberlain’s concern for the city, but I don’t see what the graffiti has to do with it – it’s a symptom, not the disease. If you’re looking at the actual cause of the city’s dereliction, try looking at the history of rent control in the city.

    In any case, the posters and graffiti in the Bairro Alto are actually pretty fascinating, as they change every day and simply reflect the vibrant neighborhood that it is. It’s going on plastered walls, too, which can just be painted over – no permanent harm is being done. And Crono’s work is just beautiful.

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