Mouraria

In the beginning it was a north-facing natural slope, outside the walled city, uninteresting. Alis Ubbo – In 1200 BC the Phoenician Empire establishes a commercial harbour on the Tagus river, far from the north slope. Olissipo – In 117 BC the Roman Empire conquers Alis Ubbo and stretches the city along the Tagus. The north slope becomes an olive grove. Al Ushbuna – In 711 AD Olissipo is absorbed by the Arab Empire and becomes denser. The north slope remains outside the city walls. Lisbon – In 1147 AD King Afonso Henriques conquers Al Ushbuna and creates a Muslim ghetto on the north slope: Mouraria. The inhabitants of the ghetto are forced to participate in the demolition of the mosque and the reconstruction of the city. The ghetto marks a border that compels the city to grow along the Tagus. In 1572 AD ghettos are extinguished and the city expands northwards integrating – but mostly skirting – Mouraria. In the 16th century a third of Lisbon’s population is black and slave. Like merchandise or animals, slaves are captured in Africa and brought to Mouraria to then be utilized, transacted and transported to all the territories of the Portuguese Empire. Mouraria – an informal, dense and labyrinthine territory inhabited by 2nd-class citizens, infidels and slaves – becomes instrumental in the success of the formal city. Fado (1910), José Malhoa – Maria Severa Onofriana, a prostitute’s daughter and a prostitute herself, creates an urban, impassioned, tragic singing style in a Mouraria brothel. Mouraria: an enclave of social transgression in the formal city, where the unexpected in desired. Propaganda – The invention of a national culture. Tabula Rasa – In 1958 vast urban areas are wiped out to make way for places of political representation and social control. Mouraria’s dense labyrinthine urbanity is fragmented and interrupted. The Union of India invades Goa, Daman and Diu – then Portuguese territories – in 1961. The invasion lasts 36 hours and it will be remembered as Salazar’s political career most humiliating defeat. Portuguese-Indians flee to the nearest Portuguese territory – Mozambique – where they transform local culture forever. 1974 – The end of the dictatorship and the independence of the former colonies lead millions of people to flee to a country many of them did not yet know: Portugal. Mouraria absorbs thousands of Portuguese of European, African and Indian descent. Admission to the Schengen Area and the Eurozone attract Bengali, Brazilian, Chinese, Pakistani and other immigrants, who find a central, affordable and receptive location in Mouraria. Mouraria’s footprint. The Babel Tower (1563), Pieter Brueghel the Elder – With 6000 inhabitants and 29 nationalities, Mouraria is a case of peaceful coexistence in a densely built urban environment. Largo de São Domingos. Largo de São Domingos – Public space as social club. Praça do Martim Moniz. Praça do Martim Moniz – Programmatic stacking. Density as a substrate for tolerance. Ground floor warehouse converted into Ravidass temple. Praça do Martim Moniz – Hairdressers of different African nationalities. Mouraria Shopping Centre – Cultural hub. Martim Moniz Shopping Centre. Martim Moniz Shopping Centre – Sensory journey. Chinese supermarket on Avenida Almirante Reis. Calçada de Santo André – Chinese ironing shop and contemporary Portuguese handicraft. Tourists – A recent sight in Mouraria. Financial stimulus to attract new residents to historic districts. Beyond the colourful atmosphere of the streets – The gloomy interiors. Free HIV tests in Portuguese and Mandarin – In Mouraria, drug addiction spans all age groups and nationalities. Illegal immigration for forced prostitution. Men aged 30 t0 40 years, living in the suburbs, unemployed, protest against immigration in Praça do Martim Moniz. Ai Mouraria – Urban renewal and social integration programme. Renovar a Mouraria – Making full use of minimum resources, this non-profit organization promotes the creation of a multi-cultural community and the improvement of housing conditions and the public space. Renovar a Mouraria – Free Portuguese lessons. Some students are learning how to read and write for the first time. Cozinha Popular da Mouraria. Todos Orchestra – Each musician has a different nationality. Todos Festival in Praça do Martim Moniz. Todos Festival in Praça do Intendente. Wim Wender’s Lisbon Story (1994) reveals a neglected, decadent and thrilling city, strolling each street and each building as if unearthing a treasure. Time Out Cover (18-24/07/2012) – Mouraria as the last piece of Lisbon yet to explore. Tuk Tuks in Mouraria – The city as amusement park. Fado for tourists. Airbnb – Within 3 years Mouraria went from null to hundreds of short-term lets. Lisbon is repeatedly awarded best city-break destination. Sotheby’s in Mouraria – Golden visas and aggressive fiscal stimulus attract many expats to Lisbon’s historic districts. Unregulated Gentrification – Functional and social homogenization, lower density, private property funnelled to large investment funds. Center For Urban Pedagogy – Tools to facilitate community participation in planning and urban policy. Miyashita Park, Tokyo (2011), Atelier Bow-Wow – The city as a multidimensional dynamic system.

Lecture

In Associação Renovar a Mouraria

Lecture on Mouraria – Lisbon’s former Moorish ghetto – at the onset of Sheffield Hallam Master Architecture Year 5 Design Studio’s project.

A long history of neglect rendered Mouraria as extraordinarily tolerant to foreign cultures and social transgression. Mouraria – a global microcosm within Lisbon – came under the politicians, investors and tourists’ radar in 2012. Time Out magazine dedicated an issue to Mouraria the same year, depicting it as the most exciting – albeit the most unknown – district in Lisbon.

Things are changing at a growing pace and now the main question is whether gentrification should be regulated and, if yes, how can gentrification be used as an asset that allows maintaining its incredibly diverse population, addressing its social and economic fragilities and improving the built environment.

With these challenges in mind, each student picks a plot and defines a brief to then be materialized in a design. Camarim will follow the students’ work.