Non-central, peripheral, low rise suburbia

Chairs

Pedro Guilherme

Sofia Salema

Abstract

There is no consensus as to what exactly constitutes a suburbia. We will take Mario Gandelsonas definition as “an opposition between the city and the suburb... as people pursued the symbolic ‘house in the country’”[1]and the “idea of suburb as a politically organized space”[2]. We tend to discuss suburbia as middle-class large housing complexes located outside of the big urban centres. Yet, interior cities are themselves suburbia of larger towns, major civic and economic centres of countries, as intentions of development over rural areas.

We intend to address the specificities of non-central, peripheral, low rise suburbia, suburbia were low budget or middle-class inhabitants live at the outskirts of old city centres, sometimes listed, or protected, conditioned in their access.

The “house in the country” is not a getaway home, a paradise far from the city, but an intermediate home, away from the already departed rural areas towards the urban dwelling. These suburbia face different challenges. They are peripheral not only to their cities but also to their country. They face the double impact of the peripheral city and of the suburbia. They serve a purpose of expansion, and the need for dwelling by people coming to the city due to many different attractions and expectations, linked to employment, social mobility and access to education or culture. Low rise suburbia act as birth places of the urban dweller but remain linked to the rural culture of the past. They are low rise because there is still land available and urban pressure is still manageable.

The neighbourhood of Malagueira, in Évora serves as a manifest of what was, is and could be. The Malagueira farm was urbanized in the late 70s, following the political change of Portugal after 1974’s Carnation Revolution and the need to house new inhabitants from the rural areas. The Malagueira’s low rise urban project by Álvaro Siza Vieira defined a new suburbia that was never finished, where only dwellings and green areas were done. Yet the project is still a promise of what could be: a wholistic, complex new settlement for a community, linked to the city, thus bridging the rural to the city, mediating the urban continuity from the city to the rural areas. Rather than just another mass housing dormitory for the classified historic city centre, but in dialogue with the latter, Malagueira has remained between past and future. 40 years after its first low budget dwellers and families, with no experience of the city, existing dwellers have a new understanding of its urban and housing qualities. Time has induced social growth and transformation, and its regeneration towards a new middle-class urban user that asks for the completion of his part of the city.

This session would like to provide a space to map and reflect upon these rather different suburbia and their positive and negative aspects, contributing to the optimistic discussion of how people talk and think about urban shapes, how to build and (re)develop new/old parts of low density cities in the future.


[1] Gandelsonas, Mario (1999)., X-Urbanism: Architecture and the American City. Princeton Architectural Press: Princeton, NJ. p. 30.

[2] van Schaik, Leon., & Bertram, Nigel (2019). Suburbia Reimagined: Ageing and Increasing Populations in the Low-Rise City. Routledge: NY. p. 1.

Short bio

Pedro Guilherme

Graduated in Architecture (1991, UTL, FA), has a Master in Urban Engineer (1996, UC, FCT), received a PhD in Architectural Theory (2016, UL, FA).

Investigates research by design and design competitions in connection to the internacionalization of Portuguese Architecture and to teaching architecture. Has researched about Álvaro Siza Vieira and his works abroad and in Portugal, in particular about the neighbourhood of Malagueira. Is the head researcher of “Malagueira: Heritage for all” (PTDC/ART-DAQ/32111/2017) information available at http://rdpc.uevora.pt/handle/10174/24594?mode=full. Is invited Professor of Architectural Drawing at the Architectural Department of the Évora University since 2017.

Sofia Salema

Graduated in Architecture (1994, UTL, FA), has a Master in Architectural Conservation (2006, UE), received a PhD in Architecture (2012, UL, FA). Is Associate Professor at the Architectural Department of the Évora University and teaches architectural Project and lectures at the Architectural Doctorate. Investigates on ornamentation in architecture (sgrafitto), research by design, Álvaro Siza Vieira and Malagueira. Is co-head researcher of “Malagueira: Heritage for all” (PTDC/ART-DAQ/32111/2017).

optimistic

suburbia II

Middle-class large housing complexes

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Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union

optimistic

suburbia II