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.

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