1.16 - Planning for Shrinking Cities in Portugal

Project Description

This research project is about shrinking cities and planning. Urban growth has been a synonym of success throughout the world; and even considered the true and sole reason for planning. Even though shrinkage is as old as growth, it has become more visible since unquestionable facts started to challenge conservative and established planning paradigms. Consequently, the theory of shrinkage is still under development, gradually building up. Portugal is not an exception to this rule. This presents an opportunity to contribute to the theory of shrinkage, to find original evidence about shrinkage in Portugal and investigate how planning is dealing with this issue.

The first part of the dissertation corresponds to a literature review to assemble a theoretical framework for shrinkage and its relation with urban and regional planning. The second part of the research focuses on the Portuguese case, first on a macro scale and then materializing the city scale of shrinkage. In the third part, cluster analysis is used to classify the Portuguese shrinking cities. Finally, plan content analysis is applied to national, regional and local spatial planning instruments to determine responsiveness to shrinkage.

The study is completed by revisiting the most important questions both in the theoretical discussion and the empirical research. Together with the theoretical analysis, the results comprise, firstly a broad picture of shrinkage; secondly, a typology of shrinking cities; and thirdly, an account of the awareness and approach to shrinkage in Portugal. The research concludes that despite the embryonic character of shrinkage in Portugal there is evidence of its existence, although planning’s response does not match evidence found. Recommendations for city policy, planning practitioners and future research on this topic are offered based on the findings.

Sousa S.; Pinho P. (2009) “Growth versus Shrinkage”, in CITTA 2nd Annual Conference on Planning Research Planning in Times of Uncertainty, 15 May, Oporto, Portugal.

Sousa S.; Pinho P. (2010) “Shrinkage in Portugal: a concern or a hidden word”, in CITTA 3rd Annual Conference on Planning Research Bringing city form back into planning, 14 May, Oporto, Portugal.

Sousa S.; Pinho P. (2010) “Typology of Shrinking Cities in Portugal”, in 24th AESOP Annual Conference, 7-10 July, Helsinki, Finland.

Research Team
  • Sílvia Sousa
  • Paulo Pinho (supervisor)
Financial Support
  • FCT (SFRH/BD/32087/2006)
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2011