LEAL - Self-build workshop
20 - 27.10.2023
‘LEAL – Self-Build Workshop’ is an architectural training course established after the ‘Appropriation in Bairro do Leal’ initiative held two years ago. The project aims to raise awareness of the precarious conditions in Porto’s urban interstices, revealing the potential of these areas and their interconnections with the wider context using self-build methodologies. In a continuation of earlier work, we sought to use modest resources to reverse the abandonment, decline and lack of investment currently affecting the Bairro do Leal neighbourhood in central Porto.
Starting with the plot where the first intervention took place, which remained partially fenced off, a more direct link to the uninhabited part of Leal, known as ‘Iraq’, was established. Just as we had observed in the inhabited part of the neighbourhood, this made the empty plot more permeable.
Self-build exercises were carried out, which were largely based on building new wooden structures using materials from the previous edition of the workshop. This encouraged the practice of recycling, on the premise that these interventions are temporary and are not intended to be permanent solutions to the urban issues facing the neighbourhood. Despite their fragility, these structures help to draw attention to an area of the city that has fallen victim to abandonment and lack of investment.
The new structures seek to revive the history of the site, interpreting elements mentioned in documents and accounts, such as the drying racks dotted along the road, almost like artistic installations, when it was densely inhabited. The large eucalyptus tree in the middle of the plot, planted in the 1970s when the neighbourhood grew up and later cut down to stop it from falling, was also reinterpreted. A structure was created to symbolise the memory of the tree, which was an important landmark for residents of Leal.
During the workshop, the residents who look after the stray cats living on the plot suggested making ‘cat houses’. These small structures, which were also built from reused materials, show how the exercises in the workshop can contribute to improving and consolidating existing dynamics on the site.
The use of beige and red colours, in dialogue with the neighbourhood, reinforces the intention to ‘contaminate’ former ways of life and to show how small-scale, low-budget interventions can be a first step on the path to urgently needed regeneration.
As is now ‘tradition’ in initiatives of this kind, the workshop concluded with a gathering where participants, residents and other interested parties were invited to share their experiences and discuss possibilities for the future of Bairro do Leal.
Tutors: Paulo Moreira, Tiago Antero
Tour: Sérgio Fernandez
Lectures: Felipe Söndahl, fala, Leopold Banchini
Critics: Space Transcribers, Natache Iilonga
Guest Artist: Maria Trabulo
Participants: Clara Sprung, Fernanda Catão, Henrique Cruz, Inês Sequeira Andrade, Paul Barnoux, Valeria Carrion Cruz, Tom Parker, Thais Andrade
Production and Project Management: Raquel Pais, Sara Pinheiro
Photography: Raquel Rocha, Ivo Tavares Studio
Support: DG Artes/Ministry of Culture, Ágora – Cultura e Desporto, Carpintaria da Lavandeira, Aipal