‘To Shuffle and to Give Again’: Construction and Destruction of a Critical Area of Porto

By Sónia Alves and Flávio Nunes.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper aims to contribute to the debate about the causes and consequences of urban decay and urban deprivation in some parts of developed cities. ‘To shuffle and to give again’ is a well-known expression that can also be used to describe some urban development strategies applied to these important areas. Specifically the urban regeneration process that has been conducted on a social housing district (São João de Deus – SJD) located on the outskirts of Porto, in northern Portugal.
The public policies that have been, over the past decades, attempting to deal with this problematic neighbourhood, have also acted as a driving force, creating population movements across Porto. Thus, forcing residential mobility is seen as a part of the solution.
This approach is criticized because it does not promote citizens’ participation in the process; in fact, it deals with people as if they were easily-moved pieces in an urban game, forgetting that this kind of policy militates against the development of social networks. This has a negative influence on the social inclusion of these families.
Furthermore, the evaluation of this urban regeneration process reveals a sequence of contradictory strategies, as a consequence of political changes in the local authority. This erratic approach evolved from the application of a range of ideas, from revitalization measures to radical solutions such as demolition. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of these decisions, not only on the demolished neighbourhood but also on those areas of the city that were used to receive SJD’s citizens, questioning whether or not this decision does not amplify the trends of urban segregation within the Porto city.

Keywords: Urban Regeneration, Social Housing, Socio-spatial Exclusion, Residential Mobility, Urban Policies, Porto, Portugal

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.15-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 842.728KB).

Sónia Alves

PhD Student, Department of Sociology, ISCTE – Lisbon University Institute, Guimarães, Portugal

Geographer, master in urban planning and PhD Student in sociology, waiting for the oral defence of the dissertation: The Social, the Spatial and the Political in Poverty and in the Exclusion. Evaluation of urban regeneration initiatives in urban deprived areas in Oporto city.

Prof. Flávio Nunes

Full-Time Professor, Department of Geography, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal

All my research so far has to do with Human Geography as a main field of multidisciplinary knowledge for an integrated comprehension of territorial dynamics. In this context, I have been developing all my research activities in trying to understand recent dynamics of territorial organization, as well as discussing the best solutions for territorial planning methods, ultimately aiming at providing the best welfare standards. With this in mind, my research has been trying to build bridges between geographical analysis and policies and instruments of territorial planning. In the area of territorial planning, my interests have been mainly directed at municipal/urban planning, strategic and territorial planning and at European regional policy. In this field of study, I have been working as a consultant for territorial planning private companies (urban planning and strategic plans). Also, I have been teaching in the degree of Geography and Planning at the University of Minho (namely in the subjects of Planning Theories and Methodologies, Urban Planning Theories, and Regional Development), and I have been cooperating with international organizations trying to promote a more balanced development for the European Union.