1.28 - Public Housing: (In)extensive Renovation?

Project Description

The concern with public health triggered by the massive migration towards the main urban centres in the wake of the industrialization process leads to the first public interventions on housing in the early 20th century. The roll of the State as housing provider increases with the formation of the social welfare state after the Great Depression. The mass construction of public housing occurred all over Europe after the Second World War when the need for reconstruction of the cities accrued in some countries to the pre-war housing deficit. In Portugal, where this phenomena did not occurred the 1950s and 1960s witnessed the implementation of Plans of Improvement in the two major cities, Lisbon and Porto. This latter municipality is the one in which the weight of social housing dwellings is more representative, in the country context. Most of this dwellings are city property and over almost of them correspond to the housing complexes built in the course of the Plan of Improvements, in carefully designed urban settlements but with very limited areas. Due to their degradation, these settlements have been in recent years refurbished by the municipality. The interventions have been directed to the rehabilitation of the housing envelope and circulation areas.

Only in a single case, taken as a fundamental reference for this research work, the refurbishment with typological reconfiguration (i.e., renovation) has been performed, demonstrating to what extent architectural design can be instrumental to the transformation of these settlements, dignifying and upgrading their construction and housing quality with the new, superior typologies which now comply with regulation requirements.

The present research work is based on the hypothesis that the option for renovation can be justified if the cost-benefit analysis takes into account the social and urban impact in a par with the economic one. The hypothesis demonstration process comprises the following aspects: operational, of the intervention; social, of the population; economic, of the construction costs; and architectural, of the buildings "transformability", defining and comparing intervention scenarios with recourse to four case studies. Finally, the set of guidelines for characterization and diagnosis concludes the demonstration of research hypothesis, providing the basis for a decision support methodology for future interventions.

Research Team
  • Joana Restivo
  • Fernando Brandão Alves (supervisor)
  • Paulo Mendonça (co-supervisor) – University of Minho, School of Architecture
Financial Support
  • FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BD/37911/2007)
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2015