terça-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2011

Mail e texto de John Chambelain

No seguimento da crónica de John Chambelain, no Guardian, lamentando a degradação de Lisboa (ver, p. ex., AQUI), escrevi-lhe a sugerir que visse os «Prémios António Costa», nomeadamente o chamado «Local M», que mostra o estado do Pátio do Tronco - local histórico bem no coração da capital, onde Luís de Camões esteve preso (ver AQUI).

Respondeu-me, primeiro, que só estava a abordar o problema dos graffiti e, hoje, com o seguinte texto:

Some of the comments on the Guardian blog in response to my reply need clarification.

see annex.


John Chambelain


“Quick on the draw” Rachel Dixon

Lisbon Graffiti & Rehabilitation

Blog comments on the response column were mostly positive, but missed the point.
Dixons column was a travelogue not a political comment, but provoked comment. Editorial reductions apart due to space limitations my comment focused on the political element and provoked some negative reaction needing comment.

Firstly, my concern was with the necessity of an alternative rehabilitation policy. My original reply to Rachel NIxon contained positive reference, projects such as the LX Factory in Alcantara, a reference to Bristol and London examples, stemming from the 70,s. Dryden St. in London, the Arnofini, the Woolhall and King Street Bristol. All rehabs for multi occupation for creative industries. Public and private investment with the building being leased from the council stock at a reduced cost.

I am no apologist for the city centre policy of Bristol since (I left for Lisbon in 72).

Presentations were made to the Lisbon council in 1989, to the then cultural representative Joâo Soares, later President of the council. A report on “Espaços Multi-Empresarial”was also given to the Port of Lisbon authority. The idea was to provide cheap”starter” space for creative industries using empty buildings in Lisbon . Rehabilitation with economy , cheap space for artists, architects and the like, using the council stock of empty buildings, minimum rehabilitation to reduce costs to provide economic rents for the “creative industries”. Now it’s a policy platform for most politicians, including the President!

There was interest but no action. I also mentioned a conference on rehabilitation initiated by the British Embassy on dockland areas. Terry Farrell was proposing a planning project for the riverside, highly criticized and trashed without debate or discussion. Presumably another “Fancy British Architect”.

Further conferences have been organized since by the council, including agencies with many years of experience.

Little has been achieved.

I also mentioned the failure of several projects, including the recent dismantling of the Municipal quango for the Baixa District and adjacent areas with its 2.5 million costs wasted. Many sites now empty have been for years and are still awaiting solution. There’s no money but what exists can be wasted !
Dixon’s article illustrates my point. The list is long.

Secondly, regarding my proposals.” The Itinary Project”. Not one but twenty proposals
Other than the 1989 proposals, we suggested twenty or so uses for public space in the centre. Together with student staff, the” ITINERARIO PROJECTO” took a central corridor from Praça de Saldanha to Cais de Sodre and offered uses and projects, some ephemeral some permanent, which would act as discussion topics for a wider debate. These projects were fully worked out proposals, over 600 drawings sketches 3D and structure studies. A large investment involving Portuguese engineers and specialists.

The idea was to promote debate. Repeated requests for a meeting with three different presidents’ and even the President Sampaio. All went without reply. I spoke to those concerned more than thirty times letters, personal approaches and requests to lessor bodies, no reply either.

Thirdly, regarding my response.

My response to Nixon´s article was more explicit, hardly “whining, patronizing or arrogant”, perhaps frustration as an architect in not being able to get ideas across or involve debate. Perhaps one of the reasons why many Portuguese architects are working in London and northern Europe, while most here are unemployed...

(Those who drew up “Itinerary” are all presently working abroad!)

Typically, and very Portuguese the xenophobic taunt, a “Fancy British architect”. I hardly have the profile of the pink expat procrastinating about the natives from the back of a taxi during a weekend colonial visit. The response is commonplace. However, I studied here in 1966, worked for Atelier Conceicâo Siva, (a noted Portuguse architect), returned in 72 and with short excursions abroad have practiced here for the last forty years! Hardly “Fancy”, not very British and earning my right to criticize and speak out.

“Fancy British architects have no right to say bad stuff about my country” suggests prejudice and xenophobia, not unusual in an economic downturn.

Lisbon must address urgently the lack of initiative, the many buildings empty and derelict, both old and new.

Even buildings like the Amoreiras Golf , Sizes Expo pavilion, Arco Cego, Feira Popular are empty, many older buildings could be rehabilitated . By naming Lisbon the “Cinderella City” of Europe I had hoped to call attention to the neglect of which, graffiti is only a part. Also there is a lack of a forum for presenting ideas and access for display and discussion of new projects. The council should make one of its many old buildings into a citizens display case, promoting new ideas, experiments and public discussion.

We need desperately a forum for new ideas and debate, accessible and open to all, whether fancy British architects or the home grown variety.

Sem comentários: