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Ivo Oliveira

Intervention Location


The urban voids of the western zone of Vila Baixa in Guimarães: transforming places of the River and the city Block

Cláudia Fernandes

The western zone of Vila Baixa in Guimarães was a place of major territorial and socio-cultural impact due to the strong industrial development during the twentieth century, resulting in a landscape transformation and a significant confrontation between the logic of housing, agriculture, and industry. In the last two decades of this century, the relocation of industry and the consequent decay of industrial spaces led to the emergence of a territory marked by a demographic decline and the appearance of abandoned spaces. In order to revive it, the present investigation proposes a reading and transformation of the place that considers its historical value, the successive appropriations or spatial qualities of each abandoned space. The analysis of the abandoned spaces allowed to associate the disarticulation of the test sample with the city, and obtain a territorial delimitation based on the old access roads to the city and its articulation with an area of strong deindustrialization. Taking into consideration an area full of marks, traces, and opportunities that can serve as a starting point, a look was sought through two fundamental structures in the process of expansion and organization: the River and the city Block. The current fragility and low visibility of these structures allowed that the use of the various urban voids, installed in the continuity of Couros river and in the core of the residential blocks, allowed a new role for these structuress and, simultaneously, new places for the city. Firstly, the on-site material collection and urban analysis were used to support the implementation of the interventions. These had as a base principle the reactivation of the project zone through the use and the restructuring of the abandoned spaces inserted in the recovery of two individual territorial structures projected in parallel. It is intended that the river restore a perception of the contiguity lost during industrialization, and the block to allow the inclusion of uses and dynamics that expand the qualities of the city's public spaces and dilute the boundaries between the public domain and private domain. These simultaneous recoveries propose the projection of new semi-private/semi-public spaces, in the proximity of the public space of the western zone of Vila Baixa, being driven by criteria of low cost, flexibility, ephemerality, and sustainability.