Sunday, December 22, 2013

Time to say goodbye

It seems like only yesterday that we started working for Arrebita!Porto but three months have flown by and it’s time for Team 7 to say goodbye. It was an intense but rewarding experience: we helped on the construction site, mainly by loading and unloading material; we saw the roof being built before our eyes; we helped promote Arrebita in a number of initiatives; we redesigned this blog; we developed a new assemblage concept for the A!Box; and, above all, we had the opportunity to be part of this great project that is set to change the historical centre of Porto for the better.

Team 7: Alexandra, Filippo, Leo, Margarida and Philippe

This final week had a bittersweet taste: on the one hand, seeing the roof practically finished made us feel a sense of accomplishment; on the other hand, it was hard to say goodbye to all the people we have grown close to during these months in Porto.

On Monday, on the eve of Alexandra’s departure, the team got together for a final drink with Rita and Daniel, our engineering coordinators. There was red wine and ‘Moscatel’ from Setúbal, along with some snacks provided by Alexandra. All in all, it was a great evening.

The group photo of our final get together with Rita and Daniel

Before we say our final goodbyes, we would like to thank the people who made these three months so enjoyable:

First of all, we would like to thank José Paixão for coming up with this brilliant idea to renovate the historical centre of Porto. Your drive to make Arrebita! happen is an inspiration to us all. And, in spite of your tendency to hum songs, we always enjoyed your company and supervision in the office.

We would also like to thank Rita and Daniel for being the coolest people we met while staying in Porto. You were always available, be it to help us at the office or to show us around the city. We surely hope we will meet again.

We would like to thank Natalia Solano Meza for her enthusiasm. We would like to thank Pedro Costa and Victor Sousa for contributing for the good mood of the team every time they came to work at the office.

We also owe a big “thank you” to all the workers we came in contact with in the construction site, with a special mention to the always ‘careful’ Mr. Joaquim.

It was a pleasure to meet and work with Mr. João Pacheco, a carpenter born and bred in Ribeira. The opportunity to work along such an experienced person was certainly enriching.

Last but not least, we would like to thank all the partners of the Arrebita network: you are the ones that keep making this project possible.

Team 7 is over but we’ll keep following any new developments in Arrebita with a keen interest. Margarida and Leo will be around in the second week of January in order to welcome Team 8. Until then, we wish all our followers happy holidays with their loved ones. Goodbye... for now – we might meet again in the great opening of the building, in December 2014. ;-)

Team 7 says goodbye

Friday, December 13, 2013

A day with the President

Hi readers! Another week has gone by and we have exciting news.

Arrebita!Porto was invited to be part of a social entrepreneurship symposium promoted by the President of Portugal, Prof. Aníbal Cavaco Silva. This was a singular opportunity to expose our project to a wider and more social-conscious audience, and we were determined to set up a small exhibition that would be truly representative of Arrebita.

As such, we started by designing a three-sided panel in which we could explain our operating principles, identify the partners that make the project possible and show the current state of the construction works in the building.

We also decided to take advantage of Mr. João Pacheco’s carpentry expertise in order to build a 1:10 model of our new proposal for the A!Box. On the one hand, the model would show one of the key elements for the refurbishing project and, we hope, the future financial sustainability of Arrebita; on the other hand, it also provided the perfect ‘excuse’ to exemplify how Arrebita can help promote members of the local community by showcasing their skills.   

Philippe and Mr. João Pacheco worked for six days straight in his small workshop under D. Luis Bridge, making sure that the model would have every detail represented.
Philippe and João Pacheco working on the model

Philippe and João Pacheco discussing some options

After a re-scheduling due to Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa on Wednesday, the eagerly-awaited symposium with the President finally arrived yesterday. While Philippe and Mr. João Pacheco applied the final touches to the A!Box model, Margarida and Leo went in early to the event venue to set up the Arrebita exhibition. Some of the materials/samples donated by partners to Arrebita were displayed alongside the three-sided panel; the A!Box model completed the showcase.

Our small stand
Samples and catalogs from some of our partners
The A!Box model was a showstopper
The model included all the structural elements and appliances

In the middle of the afternoon, the President of Portugal made a short visit to our stand accompanied by the newly elected mayor of Porto, Dr. Rui Moreira. Prof. Cavaco Silva commended José Paixão for his presentation of the project during a more restricted event in the morning and displayed some curiosity about the A!Box. José addressed a formal invitation to the President of Portugal to attend the inauguration of our pilot project one year from now. The mayor of Porto then made a point of declaring his personal interest in the project, since it is actively trying to reenergise the city centre of Porto.

José Paixão talking to the President and the Mayor

All in all, the symposium was a great experience for the team and, above all, a priceless opportunity for Arrebita to reach more people. Indeed, we got major media coverage during this week, from digital newspapers to radio stations and television channels.

Until Team 7 final goodbye next week, Arrebita!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Are we there yet?

Hello! Once again, we are here to bring you the latest news on Arrebita!Porto.

First things first: on the construction site, the roof is yet to be closed as we need to waterproof the gable wall of the adjacent building. However, with the help of our new partner Envolvente, we managed to install the necessary scaffolding last Wednesday afternoon. At the moment, we are just waiting for the corrugated metal sheets to arrive in order to continue the works. Once we get the work on the neighbour’s wall done, we hope to have the roof completely finished by the end of our stay as Team 7, around the 20th of December – and wouldn’t it make a great Christmas gift for all those involved in the Arrebita network?! 

The Envolvente workers taught the team how to put up the scaffolding

Filippo handing out a scaffolding board
It was difficult to conciliate the scaffolding with the roof structure
The scaffolding will allow us to intervene on the neighbour's gable wall

Also last Wednesday, we had a meeting on site with Mr. Jorge Barros, of Weber. He made an inspection of the building and, based on that, recommended some solutions to repair the façade. For example, the structural problems on the upper part of one of the doorways can be solved by treating the metal reinforcements with a specific Weber product, before applying some structural mortar – also provided by Weber – to repair the concrete.

Mr. Jorge Barros on site with the team

On last Thursday, we met another partner – David Reis, of Pigma – to revaluate the possibility of introducing double-glazing on the old window frames. On one hand, we want to make sure that the house is properly insulated; on the other hand, we would like to keep as many original elements of the building as possible. As such, we are striving to find a solution that will fulfil both aims.

The old window frames are frail and damaged

Since we are working on a new assemblage concept for the A!Box, we arranged a visit to a building with a similar solution on Monday. As she had done with previous teams, architect Marta Campos took us on a guided tour to the building she refurbished nearby the Fine Arts School. We would like to once again thank her for her availability to help out Arrebita’s international teams.

The team during the guided tour with Arch. Marta Campos

Meanwhile, at the office, we got some great feedback on our new A!Box concept from our architecture supervisor, Natalia Solano. Nonetheless, we still have a long way to go in order to complete the design with all the necessary details – and we are now pressured by time, since we have only two weeks left on Arrebita!Porto.

Indeed, the fact that the end of our participation is near is really starting to sink in. Last week, we made the final decision on the selection process for the next team. Then, yesterday, we experienced the first departure of an element of Team 7: Filippo left Porto to go back to his home country, Italy. We already miss you, Filippo!

Before this ‘goodbye’, however, we managed to get everyone together for a proper dinner. Rita and Daniel, our engineering coordinators, kindly offered to host an international buffet at their apartment. José Paixão, Natalia Solano and Alberto, her boyfriend, and Team 7 all brought food to share with the group: clams “à Bolhão Pato”; tortillas; guacamole; camembert cheese; biscuit cake; cheesecake; ... In spite of the variety and abundance of food, the culinary competition had a clear winner: the chestnuts prepared by Daniel. We agree with Rita: you should cook more, Daniel!

The night ended with a great game for architects and engineers: each player had to move their colour-coded columns from the board to the upper slab, while keeping the whole structure stable. In between the psychological plays, the trembling hands and the inevitable collapse of the structure, it was great fun! 

Alexandra carefully plotting her next move on the game

So, all in all, we feel like we are already running towards the finish line - but we are not quite there yet. We are in high spirits and we hope to take advantage of this final fortnight to achieve two main goals: to finish the roof and to deliver the final design for the A!Box.

Until next time, Arrebita!Porto.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thinking Big with Arrebita!

Olá readers!

Last week was a beautiful one. The sun was shining and team 7 was reviewing the applications of the future team members. Even though we received a lot of applications, we enjoyed reading each and every single one of them. In the end we were pleased with all of them and we’re moving further on with the selection. More on that in the days to come!

After a while we decided to get creative and ‘’think big’’. So on Thursday morning we were greeted by Edite Amorim, positive psychologist working for Thinking Big, who moved the furniture around in order to create a different space for the workshop that was about to begin. In the beginning we were a bit confused and didn’t know what to expect from this workshop, but at some point it got interesting and, in the end, it was funny and practical. Let’s put it like this: we revealed our deepest desires in terms of what we want from Arrebita!Porto in the month to come; we tried to come up with the best qualities that we find in our team members only to try and discuss them later on in groups of two; we brainstormed on the "have" and "have not" qualities for the future team; and last but not least we ate some so-called Hungarian cookies, which ran out quite fast

Our blackboard put to use
Social skills matter in Arrebita

There were a lot of activities involved but the one we enjoyed the most was the one where we had to change our place with the person that had the same ‘’secret word’’ - coffee, chocolate or tea. We had to pay attention at what Edite had for breakfast in order to keep a chair. We played this game just to get a bit warm but, in the end, it turned out to be the funniest of them all. We are laughing like little children!...

We had a lot of fun with some of the activities
It was a good opportunity to get to know each other better

In the game of sticking post-its on each others back, all of us got really surprised by some assumptions that were made. I think it’s easier if I give you some examples:
     ‘’Jose likes to sing’’
     ‘’Alexandra is mysterious’’
     ‘’Filippo likes to play the drums’’
     ‘’Leo likes to scream’’
     ‘’Margarida is sugar’’
     ‘’Philippe is funny’’
     ‘’Daniel is clean’’
     ‘’Rita likes to paint’’
Even now when writing them down, the assumptions are really funny and surprising.

We found out more about ourselves and a lot more of what we want in this last month in Porto. So, thank you Edite for a wonderful workshop and giving us the opportunity to express ourselves freely. Also thank you for the well-deserved break from the daily routine.

On the construction site things are progressing quite fast. The roof is more than 3 quarters done; the only part that’s missing is the one on East side. In order to finish that part, we need to cover the outside wall of the adjacent building with corrugated metal sheets. We have the two skylights already installed and we are getting ready for the future works.

A general view of the top floor in Rua da Reboleira No.42
The big skylight is now in place
The timber and metal structure of the roof in full view
The east slope of the roof and the neighbour's wall that needs to be waterproofed
The tiles keep being added to the roof

In the meanwhile, back at the office, we have been working on a new assemblage concept for the A!Box. The team has to come together once again to finish this task, as it is running since the day that the first team started thinking about it. We are feeling optimistic about this new concept because it simplifies the production and assemblage process, while also introducing customized options for the buyer/user.

The A!Box is a work in progress

As a part of our agreement with the very experimented carpenter João Pacheco, a personal facebook page is about to be born. We have also been talking about taking advantage of his expertise in order to build a 1:20 presentation model of our building.

João Pacheco visited the team on the construction site

So this is it for the past week. We will get back to you as soon as possible. Until then, Arrebita!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The 360° Experience

Hello! Team 7 is once again here to tell you everything that has been happening in Arrebita!Porto.

First things first: do you like the new design of our blog? We’ve made quite a few changes, so let us hear your feedback.

Under radiant sunny weather, the construction works on site progressed quite fast last week. The secondary metal structure for the roof was put in place; then, the workers started to fit in the thermal insulation panels on the west and north sides; the small skylight for the staircase was installed; and, finally, the first roof tiles were laid down. João Morgado, our media partner for photography, did not want to miss out on the construction progress and visited the site on Wednesday to document the works. 

There is still a lot to do, of course, but the work done during this past week already represents a huge step forward. We feel privileged to see a new part/element of the roof added before our eyes every single day.

The roof structure is made out of timber and metal profiles
A worker reparing a metal profile to be placed in the roof structure
The staircase skylight embedded in the thermal insulation
It's all about teamwork
The tiles by Telhas Cobert being put in place 
João Morgado doing his job

Also on Wednesday, Carlos Rebelo – from our new partner 3Decide – was on site to take a 360º view of the building. In the future, we will develop an interactive tool with 3Decide that will allow anyone to visualize the project and compare the “before” and “after” situation.  

Carlos Rebelo preparing the setting for the 360º view

In the meanwhile, back at the office, we had some national and international visitors, interested in learning more about Arrebita!Porto.

On Monday, we were visited by a group of architecture students from the University of East London. José Paixão made an informal presentation in the office before we took them to visit the building in Rua da Reboleira, divided in groups of five people. Team 7 has already conquered any fear of heights we might have had before this experience but the same cannot be said for our visitors. Everyone was excited to visit the site and climb up the ladder to the last floor; the problem for some was coming back down… Thankfully, Mr. Joaquim was there to help and everything turned out fine. We met the group again on Friday evening to have dinner after their project review.

The East London students waiting before visiting the building
Are YOU afraid of heights?

On Tuesday, we had a meeting with a committee set up by the President of Portugal to research social entrepreneurship in the country. The group included a personal adviser to the President, the Director of the North section of the Portuguese Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE) and the Director of Eslider Portugal organization. The meeting was complemented with a visit to the site, where the committee fully appreciated the importance of the project.

José Paixão explaining Arrebita!Porto to the research committee

Finally, on Thursday morning, we had yet another visit by an international school of architecture – this time, École Supérieure d'Architecture Paris-Malaquais. Since there was no way that we could fit 90 students in our small office, we requested the auditorium at Casa do Infante to make a general presentation of the project. Afterwards, we escorted the group through a small tour of the historical centre of Porto, including the building in Rua da Reboleira and our own headquarters in Largo do Duque da Ribeira.

The group from Malaquais in front of our office

As you can see, our time here at Arrebita! has been what may be called a "360º experience": every week, we get to do so many different things, it's like taking part in an intensive drill on all aspects concerning a social initiative/architectural project.   

Unfortunately, we cannot help but feel that we are starting to approach the end of our stay: one of our main tasks for this week will be to review the applicants for Team 8. On the bright side, however, we still have one more month to go; and we expect to bring you some news on the A!box very soon. 

Until then, Arrebita!Porto

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting down to the nuts and bolts

Hello again from Arrebita Team 7!

Last week was all about the construction works on site.

On Wednesday morning, we had a big meeting on site to assess the progress of the construction works and discuss any problems that might have arisen in the meanwhile. There were almost 15 people on No. 42 top floor: our engineering coordinators, Rita and Daniel; the Topdomus workers and engineers; Eng. Fernando Pisoeiro of Telhas Cobert, to make a demonstration of the construction system for the roof; Mr. José Castro, the plumber; and, of course, Team 7, eagerly following the discussion.

Wednesday's meeting on site
Eng. Rita Ferreira explaining a solution
Eng. Fernando Pisoeiro making a demonstration

After the meeting, we went back to the office to review the project according to the new circumstances – the truth is that, even though the project is ‘done’, there is always something that needs to be reviewed or updated in accordance to what’s happening on site.

The next day, some of us were again back on site to run some errands for the construction workers. In spite of the language barrier, Mr. Joaquim Manuel, the overseer, managed to convey to Filippo, Alexandra and Philippe that he needed nuts and bolts.

Mr. Joaquim, Philippe and Alexandra getting down to the nuts and bolts

The new gutters are now put in place and the workers have already started to lay down the structure that will support the roof tiles.

The workers putting the gutters in place

Here in Portugal there is something called “Verão de S. Martinho” – St. Martin’s Summer. It is said that, around the 11th of November (St. Martin’s day), there are always some sunny days. For this year, at least, the legend seems to hold true: we are beginning the new week under splendid weather. We hope the sun will keep shining for a few more days, since it would allow the construction works on the roof to move forward quickly.

Time flies by and we are already past half of our stay here in Porto. Applications for Team 8 are already open – if you are interested in taking part in Arrebita from January on, don’t forget to apply until the 17th of November. You can find all the information on our website:

Until next time... and Arrebita!Porto.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Concreta, Carpentry and Chocolates

All the time and hardwork put into preparing Arrebita’s stand for Concreta paid off: the exhibition allowed us a unique opportunity to promote the project not only amongst construction companies but also with the general public. Indeed, the four days we spent in Exponor proved to be as intensive as the preparation tasks, with little idle time left in between talking with all the visitors. We were excited to verify that many people had, by now, at least heard the name “Arrebita”; and it was a true pleasure to testify their curiosity about the project.

We established new contacts with some promising companies, while also promoting the partners already attached to the project. It was a great networking experience – and the fact is that Arrebita is, in essence, a network: a network made out of many partners, all working together to revitalise the historical centre of Porto.
Our stand in Concreta, full of visitors

In view of the long hours dedicated to Concreta, we got Monday and Tuesday off. However, this “shortened” week still brought us plenty of things to do.

First, we tried to put up the Concreta canvas in the walls of Arrebita’s storage room – all ten meters of it! We had to shorten its height in order for it to fit but, since we did not want permanently damage it, we ended up by having to fold, iron and tape the bottom 40cm. We then taped the whole canvas to the wall and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, and in spite of all our efforts, by the next morning it had already fallen off the wall… Perhaps we’ll give it another try next week!

Ironing a ten meter canvas - quite a challenge, no?

Meanwhile, on the construction site, the wood structure for the roof was finally built up. In fact, and after some unexpected delays, this task was completed in a single afternoon by our carpenters. Now that the works are picking up speed, we hope to start laying down the roof tiles by the end of next week.

The wood structure for the roof is up!

Finally, this Friday morning, we also got a very special visit from a Dutch committee interested in understanding the mission and operational model of Arrebita. Our visitors work for the Ministry of Environment and Infrastructure in the Netherlands and their task is to research the causes of the decline of population in city centres. Instead of a presentation, we had an informal conversation in the office before taking them to visit our building in Rua da Reboleira.

Meeting the Dutch delegation at the office

While Rita was leading the Dutch committee in a guided tour to the building site, we casually started talking with a tourist family that was passing by. Once Alexandra realised they were from Sweden, she immediately took up the chance to put her Swedish language skills into practice. Coincidently, the father was an architect, so he was quite excited to hear about the project and visit the site.

We said goodbye to our new international acquaintances – both Dutch and Swedish – and we headed back to the office for a meeting with our engineering and architectural coordinators. We have our work set out for next week: reviewing some technical issues of the project, changing the groundfloor structure from metal to wood, and taking care of everything else that will eventually come up. On the bright side, we now have something to help keep our spirits up – delicious chocolate offered by the Dutch delegation:

A nice detail from the Dutch: the chocolate boxes spell out "Obrigado" 

Keep up with our daily news on Facebook. Cheers and Arrebita! Porto.