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.