Urban Safari

On 28th of June accept this challenge and join us for the Urban Safari.

Lisbon Crossing

Even devoid of erudite cultural referencing, we called for the everyday experience of space as a base from which to collect the legitimacy of a theoretical and historical discourse on architecture. The proposal to an experiential identification with the context in Lisbon, as real as imaginable, seeks to make use of the raw material of the city, available a priori. And that should be reflected in the proposal for a collective experience, agreed and supported on architecture, in such a way that, "what is communicated, can also be demonstrated."

The short journey to be undertaken across some historic districts of Lisbon will be a pretext to reconstruct, in a metonymic way (the part by the all) and through images, the "everyday experience of architectural space." An inscription of the operation in a system of meaning, harvests here in the dynamic visual experience: the capture process and photo frame should be used to intersect the particular actions (within a time or a concrete duration) with the physical representation of living space (or area) in the city. The action is expected to draw up an educational effect: more than a sociological understanding of the subject that photographs, or the clear nature of the morphological architectural artefact that is depicted, it should emerge an idea that relates both.

From the outset, this strategy adopted for the construction of an interpretative model of housing architecture in Lisbon, runs counter to the conventional docking, based on the style and authorship - after all, the modern canon of analysis. Instead, the possibility of understanding the housing phenomenon trough observation is transferred to the anti-modern context of reception: we value the interpretation of neighborhoods in the city as affective and perceptual experience, potentially within and beyond the programmatic repertoire of things that could designate, represent, or build architecture. In this type of experience, the instability in synchronic and diachronic relationships is assumed as positive, something that an analysis based on strict formality turns out to deceive.

Walter Benjamin, sagacious observer of the urban phenomena, helped himself through a divisive ambivalence, to rate the subject susceptible of artistic evaluation: namely, he hinted at two types of reception of the objects by the viewer, differentiating the assessment made in “a state of distraction” of that what is done in “a state of concentration". The architectural works in particular, according to Benjamin, offered it selves to public interpretation "in a state of distraction”, as it is reflected in the following description of Nikolai Gogol (dating back to the early nineteenth century): It can be said definitely at this time, that is, until noon, that Nevski Avenue is not the aim of anyone, but only serves as a means: it fills up little by little with individuals who have their occupations here, their concerns and their dislikes, but they do not think on it minimally.

The "conditional receptiveness” that the ordinary fellow gives the physical support that inhabits, departs from the analytical predisposition that architect specialists, in acute state of concentration, tend to devote to the same object. Disparate motivations, which are often mislead, open a gap between the works of architecture understood as a means, and the same works understood “as a purpose to”. Yet, we must agree that the “recognizable city" (to be determined in the sequential snapshots), is prefigured as the eligible metaphor that best serves the common understanding for dwelling.

The Lisbon neighbourhoods to cover, will enable the recognition of exemplary interpretive frameworks, which are organized between the limit settings of the labyrinth (chaotic) and the matrix space (cosmological) – these are the extremes from which we deploy our readings of analogy and contrast. It is proposed to reconstruct each of the referents, between the maze and the rational matrix, through a corresponding metonymy based on image, a process which will be undertaken at the discretion and interpretation of each observer.Relations and distinctions between three mazes.

  In these neighborhoods, its tripartism is delineated by the path of the electric cars that divide them, as if it were borders. Skilled and-knowing way, rails and airlines where-run electric cars, demarcate and distribute these three spatiality. The route is part of this walking between these sites through this continuity lines where neighborhoods come together and simultaneously separated from each other.

It is anticipated that the drift to carry out might suggest the conflict of architectural matter with a particular question. It is indeed in this direction that we’ll evolve through the city spaces, considering it as an analogic repository, good enough to exercise the understanding of "dwelling collective", as a compound part, where memories of experiences and spatiality are inscribed altogether. And then, it is up to each individual to appropriate it as he wishes, as it commits in setting up a particular representation.

The proposal – to invade and to decipher the composite character of the historic town – suggests conducting a conditional drift, at the range and at sight of :

1- The Sea-front by boat (Cacilheiro) - The city view of the Tagus River Front - The Scenic Town.

Tagus River and the city of Lisbon are an inseparable binomial and fundamental to the understanding of Lisbon. Lisbon is a port city, the port activities and its water plan are important elements for understanding and growth of the city. The  coastline has been changed and artificialized by landfills, but remain visible in old water plan, now as urban structure of the city.

 2- Alfama(walking) -  Alfama, Mouraria and the Castle are the three most iconic neighborhoods of Lisbon. Each of them has its own organization and unrepeatable morphology, demonstrating the difference in their composition and structure. Apparently nothing has changed, but everything is different between them, namely: Broad, streets, back alleys without an apparent order, containing own idiosyncrasies to the topography and culture of each location.

3- the electric tram line 28 - The mechanical device will serve where the purpose as a metaphorical Trojan Horse: over time, this would be adopted as a legitimate representation for a collective imaginary of an historical Lisbon, that came together with the city transformation process induced by the advance of modernity.

In addition to the stated drift (remotely situationist) that inspires a figurative unfolding for the physical and mental landscape of architecture, there lies another significant analogy in the emerging urban civilization in the nineteenth century: a post-industrial city, confronting the viewer with a multitude of details, would eventually become simultaneously support and protagonist for literary and cinematic fictions of the modern era.In fact, the route of the "28", which cuts through the successive developments of Lisbon until the twentieth century, became a "particular way to get around and recognize", and served as a catalyst of a proper urban imaginary, present (among others) in movies like Wim Wenders Lisbon Story or Alan Tanner’s Dans la ville blanche, or in comic books like António Jorge Gonçalves / Nuno Artur Silva (Ana, A História do Tesouro Perdido, A Tribo dos Sonhos Cruzados) or in Nicolas de Crécy / Raphaël Meltz (Lisbonne, voyage imaginaire).The conflicted tread of the electric vehicle, uphill and downhill, eventually suggests specific perceptions of the city, ones of a kinesthetic nature (ie, based on mode "as the body interprets the fact that the body is in motion”). In fact, and according to Richard Sennett, the spatial experience of the subject is constituted by movement, according a temporal sequence, combining a set of perceptions which specify and individualize each experiment.

The freedom promised to a moving individual appears in one of the most remarkable documents of the eighteenth century, published immediately before the French Revolution. This is the Travel by Italy of Goethe, in which he recounts his escape in 1786, from an idyllic, small German court, to the fetid cities of Italy, an escape that, in his view, returned his own body to life.


Goethe becomes progressively aware that in his trip, every time he would become interested in a more specific aesthetic experience. The poet’s trip was unique, but nevertheless, the idea that movement, traveling, and exploration stimulate the sensitive life of the individual, was what gave rise to the desire to travel in the eighteenth century.

Thus, the cross-linearity of the “28” route (running through the different morphological housing units in the historic city) or the Sea-front by boat( Cacilheiro) 3- and Alfama(walking) establishes the founder pretext, suggested as a contribution to a possible narrative construction. From this exploratory action, which provides the argument for sectioning the generic field of urban complexity, it is up to the participant-explorers to carry out an association with the theme of collective dwelling – and to make an attempt from that perspective, to unveil some significant features or ideas from those locations.

It is suggested to register the experience through images(photos)and brief filmic records. And also suggested an eventual assembly of an A5 folio, materially shareable among participants.


Road Book - Download 

Registration for the Urban Safari: click here

Meeting point: 28th June, 14:30 Praça do Comércio (http://www.visitar-lisbon.com/lisbon/places/praca-comercio.html)
End: 19:30 at Belém for dinner – at own costs – 15€ (in Rua Vieira Portuense, Restaurant Bem Belém and Restaurant Dina)
We will then meet also the New Housing Researchers attendants in the end of their fieldtrip. It will be a great dinner sharing experiences!

Please bring a day travel card with you (those who choose the safari “The Sea-front by boat (Cacilheiro)” also will need to buy a boat ticket on the spot, when arrive there with the group)