A tale of two neighbourhoods: ROCK mentoring visit in Lisbon

  • culture

Industrial brownfields, co-working spaces in former wine warehouses and microbreweries: the neighbourhoods of Marvila and Beato in the eastern part of Lisbon are becoming the capital’s newest paradises for creatives and entrepreneurs.

The municipality is capitalising on this creative potential by rehabilitating a former army supply factory into a creative hub. But Marvila and Beato are multifaceted with different populations living and working in these neighbourhoods, and the danger of gentrification is just around the corner. 

Lisbon decided to focus on Marvila and Beato as part of the EU funded ROCK project. These neighbourhoods have not benefitted from a global urban regeneration plan and last March, a mentoring team of ROCK partner cities of Athens, Bologna, Cluj, Lyon and Skopje visited Marvila and Beato to learn about Lisbon’s plans to raise awareness of the neighbourhoods’ potential.

Marvila and Beato are old rural and industrial neighbourhoods, separated from the historic centre of Lisbon by a river and railway line. Close to the Tagus, Marvila used to be a leisure spot for wealthier citizens and later became an industrial hub for migrants from Portugal’s countryside who lived in social housing units and shanty towns. Today, social housing units have ballooned; many of the heritage sites are at risk, abandoned and waiting for rehabilitation; and the riverfront is redeveloping fast with high rise residential buildings, which risk creating an even stronger social divide.

With ROCK, Lisbon is creating a living lab to work on core urban issues in Marvila and Beato. Housed in the Marvila library, the lab will develop temporary projects directly involving residents, bridging the gap between Marvila’s history and identity with the memories and experiences of its diverse communities.

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