This July, we had the opportunity to visit the Ateliermob studio in Lisbon, Portugal. We spoke to architect Paula Miranda, who works with local communities on participative design projects in Lisbon and Evora.
Ateliermob is a platform for the development of ideas and projects in the areas of architecture, design and urbanism. The company was founded in 2005, and in 2016 they also formed a cooperative – “Working with the 99%”. The co-op provides services in the fields of architecture and social intervention.
Largo Residencias (Photograph by Fernando Guerra)
While in Lisbon, SOA had the opportunity to visit the Largo Residencias, a cooperative hostel, artists studio and café designed by Ateliermob. Located in the rapidly changing neighbourhood of Intendente, Largo aims to connect the area’s past and future. It serves as a community hub for many of the area’s residents and initiatives, and develops projects to support the inclusion of the neighbourhood’s more disadvantaged inhabitants. Intendente has been quite a deprived neighbourhood in the recent past, and the café/hostel has provided 15 jobs for people from the local neighbourhood. It also provides studios and workspace for local artists.
SOA were struck once again by the similarity of issues facing Lisbon and a number of Irish cities. These include a rapidly increasing gap between incomes and rents, and sweeping gentrification in some areas to the detriment of local communities. As in Ireland, home ownership is very culturally and politically important to Portuguese people, and this contributes to commodification of property and homes.
Ateliermob and ‘Working for the 99’ have inspired SOA by engaging and educating local communities to combat these issues. Their participative design projects work to improve the public realm. They provide much needed meeting places for residents and community groups. And they have designed homes and workplaces for marginalised citizens.
Community Kitchen, Terras da Costa, Lisbon (Photographs by Fernando Guerra)