1.8 - Spatial Structuring for Metropolitan Planning Purposes: The Case of the Metropolitan Area of Oporto

Project Description

Metropolitan areas are rather dynamic systems ever changing their forms and functions. Previous research on the Metropolitan Area of Oporto has clearly shown that the actual form and structure of this metropolitan area is the result of three contradictory forces. On one hand, the polycentric genesis of this area is still evident and the corresponding forces of territorial structuring are still in place. This polycentrism is spatially supported on a star shaped old road network linking the large central city (Oporto) to eight surrounding small to medium size cities. These cities constitute independent municipalities, all anxious to strengthen their own political protagonism, particularly when it comes to attract foreign investments or major public sector investments in large scaleProj_1.8.png infrastructures and social equipments. Another spatial structuring mechanism, particularly evident in recent years after the completion of the circular metropolitan road network, is made of the typical centrifugal forces that characterise most metropolitan areas in Europe and North America. These forces dictate the steady decline of the core city and the growth of suburban peripheries, now spatially supported and fuelled by the new trunk road system. Finally, the third structuring mechanism has to do with the wider role of this metropolitan area in the North of Portugal, acting as a focal point for the surrounding and far larger urban system, and (together with Lisbon) as a gateway to Europe. Coupling this territorial reading of metropolitan dynamics with economic competitiveness, increasing patterns of quality of life and sustainability objectives, one comes to the conclusion that there is an urgent need for strategic thinking and strategic planning. Furthermore, a so called second generation of Municipal Master Plans is in the way, in the absence of a structuring metropolitan vision that could hold together this complex urban system. That's the objective of this research project.

Research Team
  • Prof. Paulo Pinho
  • Ana Monterroso
  • Susana Alves

Financial Support
  • FEUP

Stage of Progress
  • Concluded