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The Creviced City, Re-Tempering Urban Fissures and Fixings in Baixa

Part 2 Project 2014
David Clark
Rickie Cheung
Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture | UK
‘The creviced city’ offers a possible solution to reverse the process of degeneration suffered by Lisbon’s city centre as the result of commercialisation, recession and suburbanisation. The project proposes a material urban strategy and a series of architectural programs – fissures and fixings - which are distributed across the downtown (Baixa) area of Lisbon. This strategy aims to revitalise and sustain the city at both micro and macro scales, thus reintroducing Baixa as a place to work and, most importantly, to live in. Asking what practices of “conservation” and “regeneration” mean in this context, the project finds that architecture should function not to reinforce accepted preconceptions and conventions, but instead to work with conditions of dislocation, uncertainty and to learn how to intervene in settings of ambiguity and flux.

Lisbon is read as a city of rich physical territory. The historical tremor of 1755 and the probability of a future earthquake remove certainties of the definition of ground in the city, and therefore Baixa is rendered a complex combination of stone, tile, rubble, displaced foundation, grid over meandering street trace. Through conceiving of Lisbon as a ‘creviced city’, its seemingly solid geo-urbanity is reconsidered. This ground holds the potential for moments of opening, opportunities to cut, and therefore insert, prop, traverse or occupy; to create a distinct architecture in itself, which is informed by strategies like carving, incising, slicing, weaving, wrapping.

At the macro scale, a consolidation of infrastructure seeks to reinforce the existing city fabric while easing the transition from arrival in the city (by ferry or train) to travel through the city (by metro, bus, tram, bicycle). A new transportation concourse is proposed. Within the existing buildings, a set of micro-programmes serve contemporary living and working: trades / crafts / services to sustain the city- metal and bike workshop, tram repair depot. These are administered by a new City Guild situated in the Praça do Comércio, located at the ‘mouth’ of Baixa. The City Guild connects artisan makers and Baixa infrastructure, while providing generous civic spaces for both the everyday and the unexpectedly fecund or disastrous.

David Clark
Rickie Cheung

Victoria Clare Bernie
Suzanne Ewing
Ivan Marquez
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