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The Shoemakers' Yard

Part 2 Project 2015
Natalia Petkova
University of Cambridge, UK
The Shoemakers’ Yard is a company of rooms carved out of the terraced landscape of an inner city block in the Historic Centre of Porto.

The proposal seeks to address the acute shrinkage that the district has seen in the past two decades by restoring its place in regional manufacturing. It introduces a new scale and nature of activity to the tourism-dependent local economy, while acting opportunistically with regard to existing skill resources in the city region.

Tactically, the proposal consolidates depleting public funding for urban rehabilitation with private investment from industry to develop technical training and design research facilities for value-added shoe production. Yards for cabinet-, dress-, and book-makers might too be drawn from within Porto’s inner city blocks, following the city’s tradition of craft-themed urban quarters.

Tectonically, the proposal builds on two principles for negotiating change in conservation areas: Gustavo Giovannoni’s idea of ‘weeding’ historic fabric: accepting ruins, propping up existing structures, and removing pathological elements; and Tim Ingold’s notion of ‘weaving’ as the basis of all making, pointing to the connections between elements (thresholds, circulation, views) as means of transforming relationships of value, tenure, and use within a quasi-immutable UNESCO landscape.

Natalia Petkova


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