Sunday, April 29, 2012

The last week of April

This week began with everybody working individually for the first time. Every member had the task to create his own concept for architectural/spatial and programmatic solutions of the building. Our “deadline” was on Wednesday, because we had arranged a meeting with Professora Teresa. Also, it was on the 25th of April, the very significant holiday dedicated to the Carnation Revolution! The day when “nobody” works. :)
Tutoring with professora Teresa
 We designed more than 10 different possibilities, and on Wednesday presented those to Teresa. That meeting was extremely inspiring and after a long and productive discussion about our proposals, we chose the good things from all different projects that we will try to integrate into one solution. This meeting was probably the most important until now and was the moment of defining our designing concept!

We started to think about two main things that we wanted to do:
- ”to empty the box” (which is the building)
- ”to design a living box” (inside the existing building)

So, from the end of that meeting we started to design flexible boxes that can adapt to all kinds of apartments. We were thinking about various solutions like a small box for kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, but also about the different combinations of them integrated into just one. To make things more realistic and better to understand we decided to make a model (a big one, in scale 1:20) so we can try to put in all our new boxes!

On Friday, we met again with Susana Pacheco Barros, because she had so many things to tell about historic aspects of Porto, that the meeting we had the week before wasn’t enough and we asked her to arrange a new one. This time, she took us for a walk and told us a lot of amazing stories about Porto that we (and probably the most of the people who live here) didn’t know!
With the view of Porto
After the tour we continued to work with our box solutions and building the model… Here are some photos of the atmosphere from the office!





Next week, we will share with you also the drawings and models that we have made!

Friday, April 20, 2012

This third week!

This last week started with the great company of the teacher and architect Teresa Fonseca. Professora Teresa will be our tutor representing the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Oporto.
After we present some ideas of what we are doing, this meeting became like a melting pot where we discussed the rehabilitation philosophy and a future program. Besides that we also put on a table some good examples about what has been done in the city in the last decades. We talked about some political questions and how to turn the new program in a new way (even if small) of contaminating all neighbor and, who knows, all city center.
A city who prostitutes herself to the others, may bring diseases”, a city lives from its own community and not for foreigners to see. In this way on one hand we have here a great opportunity to create something socially new,and on the other hand to draw a standard prototype for future rehabilitations in the historical center.
As architects “we have to feel the sensations of the street”, we have to see people's behaviors and observe everything around, before we can make any decision.
On the same day, 16th April, we went to have a walk on the street of Reboleira with Catarina and Joana, both architecture students. We were there to know what is happening in situ, who are the people that still live or work there, which are the companies and associations that function there and some other historical facts about the buildings.  
On Tuesday we reviewed all our structural report in a meeting with NCREP, to prepare our public presentation the day after. On Wednesday, our first open working day has finally arrived (you can see more information in our related post). We finished the day with a nice dinner with all Arrebita team as well as many others partners that also came.
Seminar in Casa do Infante
Last Thursday we had also an important presentation with the architect Ren Ito. He talked about the Sabiamente Study Center project, an example as it is possible to rehabilitate a building with short resources.
With Ren Ito
Today, friday, we started the day with the historian Susana Pacheco Barros. She told us about some historical facts and about some curious characters that lived there as “Toninho da Ribeira”, and that can be a future inspiration for us. By the way, if you know any information that could help us please comment!
History lecture in the studio

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Open working day presentation

We have had our first open working day and would like to share our presentation here on the blog. The goal for theese first two weeks was to get an overview of the history and social conditions of the building, the condition of the structure and damages, the spatial characteristics and to comment on possible programs.

The presentation you can find here, but we will also try to explain briefly our results and present our programatic discussion.If you have any comments or suggestions, let us know. We would appreciate your opinion.

Historic review

The historic information we have about the building is very limited. We know that the plot and street is old, but have no information about the current building structure from before the 1980's. We know that this building has housed a salt storage, a primary school, offices and a rowing club. We have a few drawings from the 80's, but they are very scarce.

Structural survey

We have tried to give a status report on the structure of the building. How is it made, and what is the current condition of the structure and materials.

The building has a traditional construction with loadbearing partitioning walls in stone and wooden floors and roof structure. The wooden parts are the most damaged and critical. condition varies from elements we have to replace to elements that just need new finishing.

Tests were made together with the engineers at NCREP, using the amongst others the resistograph and the hygrometer. We will finish this survey when the building is secured so we can also enter the basement and the roof.

Spatial survey

Our building is situated in a narrow street with limited light on ground level. The building has a rather simple footprint, 13 meters long and 5,5 meters wide, and today the stairs run along the partitioning wall. Our biggest challenge will be the daylight conditions. As the building has only one facade the light is poor in the inner parts of the house, but skylights provides the second floor with much better conditions.  

Programatic discussion

We still don’t have final decisions about the programmatic solutions, but we have some opinions and attitudes, and we would like to share it with you with a hope that you will get into the discussion. Feedback from you would be very helpful.

One thing that seems to be quite definitive at least at this stage of the project, is that the program is going to be divided by levels:
- ground floor + basement will have some programs for the community (whatever it means at this moment )
- 1st and 2nd floor - housing


Regarding the housing, if we consider the city context and the dimensions of the historic buildings in that area, both of the upper floors have enough space to be independent living units – 63 square meters first, and 70 square meters second floor.

The main challenge for us will be to design a lightening solution for the apartments. We are already discussing about possible solutions like: adding a new floor or making a hole that can conduct light from roof to the 1st floor…

Why housing?
Because the spirit of Arrebita is about SOCIAL problems, about the people, about domestic people, about bringing them back here, in the hearth of the city where they belong… We are creating the ALTERNATIVE solution! For instance, the theme of tourism is very important for income of a city, but strategies already exist in that sphere. And we want to make something different, even if right now this project is not a solution for the entire problem.

People make a city; the city is people, not a museum where someone can just walk around and take a nice photos. A life is happening there, something realistic, and it should be the thing that Porto will be most proud of. Of its people.We want to bring people back, even if it means that maybe only two families or two young couples can be happy at the first moment. They will be, as we said, the example, but also the injection and the beginning of a great impulse that will spread…

Ground floor and basement:

Basement can be used as storage of a ground floor user, or can be divided between this user and the people who live on the upper floors.The lightening problem in the ground floor is not as big as on the 1st floor because of the different functions of these two spaces. This is not a space for living and it doesn’t necessary require natural light, so the electrical lightening systems can also be used…

Program in the ground floor…? Maybe it is something completely simple and supremely practical like a bakery, a pharmacy, or any kind of store that is supposed to be used every day from the people who live in that area… Or a few different activities that can work together… Maybe it will be the future Arrebita office like a proof and a motive for the neighborhood that something is really happening and changing, that somebody is now here, that the area they live in is not on the margin, that people actually want to come…Maybe even that youth has come, because youth is the future...

Conclusion and attitudes:

Our goal will be to design a building that is as adaptive, universal and flexible as possible!

We still don’t know who will use it, and that’s why our solution has to offer different ways of using it. For example, our primary goal will be to have a two separated living units on 1st and 2nd floor, but also, we will consider a possibility of a potential user who would like to merge these two floors into one apartment.

This project must not be observed as an example with unique problems and needs, like it is cut from time, spatial and social context. It should help us to found new principals of refurbishment. It has to be a good example, prototype and a model for all of the future projects...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

1st Open Working Day!

Tomorrow we are having our first Open Working day. With the goal of learning from eachother, presenting what we've done so far and prepare for further work there will be several talks and presentation. We are now working intensively on our presentation. 

Come join us tomorrow!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Second Week

The Easter is behind us, and many people were still on holiday, but not the Arrebitas! On Monday we had a fantastic presentation by two of NCREP's engineers - João Paulo Miranda Guedes and Tiago Ilharco about the traditional Porto housing typology. We have learned some basics of old building techniques and we have got a lot of useful information, which were the first steps in our understanding of all the damages that we can find in our pilot building.   
Workshop with João and Tiago
On Tuesday we had a full day workshop of BIM - Building Information Modeling by the professor Jorge Vaz from ESAP and Pedro Faria from our Arrebita family! This lecture about project management will help us to organize and consolidate our self during the teamwork in the most advanced way. 
BIM workshop with Pedro and Jorge
After the lecture we entered into the pilot building for the first time and made a short survey of it following the instructions that we got from NCREP.
In the evening we met the team of Arrebita engineers for the first time, so we showed to Rita, Daniel, Diogo and João some sketches and conclusions that we made about the building and discussed it a little bit…
The engineers visiting and supervising
We have to admit that it was a really long day but also that we learned so many new things, so - we are not complaining!:)   
Wednesday was a more relaxing day because we didn’t have any meetings, so we used it to make some plans about the structure of our Open working day presentation. This will be next wednesday, and we defined some main chapters and topics for the story about the building! You should all come and see!

And on wednesday Guido finally arrived from Italy! We have really been looking foreward to meet him. Welcome to our Arrebita!Family, Guido!
No further comment needed
Thursday was a very practical day for us, because we went to the building together with the NCREP engineers Tiago and Valter, who had brought their equipment for all necessary tests! So we rolled up our sleeves and got dirty! For all of us this was a first time of working onsite identifying damages, so everybody was really excited about it. This unique experience ended with many useful results about a condition of almost all of the elements in the building. 
On site with NCREP
Testing the beams with the resistograph
Hands on discovering damages
Valter and Tiago, looking for reinforcement
Guido checking the moist
In the evening, we had a first meeting with Arrebita architects – a six member team of girls: Magia, Rita, Pilar, Teresa, Mary and Filipa! We presented to them the historical and structural facts of the building that we found out so far, and we also discussed about our presentation on the Open working day…

Friday – we didn’t have any meetings so we spent the day preparing our presentation…  
Hard work

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Social survey - a short summary of what we found

The rehabilitation of Oporto is an astounding challenge nowadays, and one that, in order to be possible, cannot be delayed any longer. The decay of the city’s historical center is the consequence of different policies and phenomenons that slowly contributed to the actual problem.

It’s a difficult task to systematize what happened, since each factor is cause and effect of another. Shortly we can mention three main action fronts: the abandonment of the city center, the buildings’ degradation and the social problems of the inhabitant population. The abandonment of the historical center of Oporto started around the 60’s, when a high percentage of the inhabitants was relocated on social housing around the suburbs, where more jobs and infrastructures were available, in an attempt to diminish the unbearably high population density as well as the health and social problems of the city center. Simultaneously, buildings had entered in a cycle of degradation, caused by the low investments of the owners (due to the house rents freezing policy) and the intense use throughout the years. The historical center of Oporto became, with time, a segregated area of the city, where a high percentage of elderly people would live together with a low education unemployed population, with severe drug and insecurity problems.

Since 1974 the Portuguese government has developed different rehabilitation programs, each one with their own philosophy and strategy, such as CRUARB and Porto Vivo. In the meanwhile, other urban interventions, like the ones of Porto 2001, and the development of the public transportation network, like the Metro, also contributed to the revitalization of the city center. Private investments, though far from enough, contributed mainly to the increase of tourism, restaurants and commercial offers.

Arrebita!Porto arrives in a time in which the city needs as many different public and private projects, with different goals and strategies, as possible. Arrebita!Porto doesn’t intend to be the solution, but one of the many answers to the same problem. With this opportunity we would like to offer an alternative to the touristic, commercial or even high cost projects, that only consider a few, and try to present a social rehabilitation driven project, to explore the potential of the existing qualities of the historical center.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Our first week

Tuesday – our first day of action! We had an all-day tour that helped us to get the first impressions of Porto, which were necessary for our further work. Pilar and Diana from Sidewalk.Porto were our guides that took us through the steep and tight streets, and uncovering to us a lot of historic facts and current curiosities of the city. On our tour through the historic city center, we had the opportunity to get into buildings that are being refurbished – a hostel project of Floret Arquitectura, and an old house about to be refurbished by SWark. Interesting to hear about their aproach. During our ”short” walk we also met our pilot project building in Reboleira 42 for the first time!

... A lot of work to do, but even more ideas and still a lot of energy – we have just arrived!

Since we had been walking for so long, we sat down for a lunch in a very original and sweet place that can exist only in Portugal! And of course – with the inevitable bacalhau!
After lunch we met with a journalist, so he could take a few pictures of us to appear in the newspaper of Wednesday. We will be shy enough to share the link with you.
Still miss Guido, but he can get a whole article when arrives…

Wednesday – official birth of Arrebita! Jose and Municipality have finally signed all of the papers. Unfortunately we could not be there, but during lunch we saw José appearing on TV.

We were having a full day workshop at INFOR in Matosinhos, and a fantastic ArchiCAD lectures by Ricardo! Our best recommendations!
After the workshop, one non official thing - our first touch with the ocean, and kind of a rest from digital world of 3D modeling by the beach…

Thursday – a day dedicated to the social aspects of Porto! We’ve been lucky to hear the results of the surveys made by a few fantastic people:

-     two Arrebita girls – Catharina and Joana with a great historic summary and a opinions on the possible causes of the current situation in Porto inner center
-     Celin, who showed us her master work with very clear conclusions about social aspects of
      Porto, which was her thesis for graduating
-     Jose Sequeira and Ana Leite Pereira from PortoVivo, who explained to us the                 
      strategies of their organization through a presentation, but also took us for a short
      walk to see their current work on Morro de Sé 
So many different perspectives and points of view!

Friday, Saturday, Sunday - Boa Páscoa! :) Or if you like - Happy Easter!

The Arrebitas with Diana and Pilar
Visiting the refurbishing project house with SWark


José, the celebrity, at the municipality
ArchiCAD workshop with Ricardo

Walking the streets with José, Ana and Celin

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Olá Porto!

Eva, José, Cristina, Filip and Ingrid
The day is finally here. We have arrived as the first team of the Arrebita!Porto pilot project. "We" being Eva and Cristina from Portugal, Filip from Serbia, Ingrid from Norway and Guido, who will be arriving from Italy next week.

José and the Arrebita team has given us a warm welcome, and has a lot planned for us. From here awaits two and a half month of interesting working and learning. We are lucky to be the designing team for the pilot project, and have a phase ahead of us with getting to know the city, the building and meet a lot of great and knowledged people. And in the end to leave a good and inspiring project for the oncoming participants. 

We can't wait to start working!