AN ARCHITECTURAL redevelopment project designed by Pritzker Prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel for Lisbon’s Alcântara should be given the green light by municipal planners.
The project, which entails housing, shops, a market and gardens has been put on ice by Lisbon Câmara members but should be awarded planning permission in the opinion of five leading architects and a Câmara Urban Planning Department executive officer.
The bold new design is seen as a retake on the traditional Lisbon with apartments clad in azulezos with blue asymmetrical patterns, narrow calçada cobbled streets, lush, semi-tropical gardens, and esplanades bustling with cafés, restaurants and trendy boutique shops.
The project would be built around Lisbon’s rundown riverside highways of Avenida da India and 24 de Julho.
Jean Nouvel, who on Monday was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize for Architecture (the architectural establishment’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize), has had the project on the drawing board since 2003.
Architects say it is difficult to get “exciting projects” for the Alcântara area of the city, “sandwiched” as it is between two main arterial roads.
Architect Manuel Salgado, who heads up Lisbon’s Urban Planning Department, agrees saying: “This Jean Nouvel project is fantastic and simply too good to lose.”
The Câmara has paid the world-famous architect six million euros for a blueprint development plan for the triangular piece of land in front of the Alcântara-Mar train station, currently occupied by a rubbish collection depot.
“If the plan doesn’t go ahead, it’s money down the drain like the Frank Gehry project for Parque Mayer,” he says.
The core project involves eight four-storey buildings with interior patios accessed by narrow lanes echoing those seen in the traditional Lisbon ‘bairros’ (neighbourhoods) around the castle and Alfama.
Housing would account for 60 per cent of the project, with 40 per cent (20-20 respectively) for commercial use and service space. “This is a project which pays due attention to public space and it’s very atmospheric,” says Order of Architects chief João Rodeia.
Architect Tiago Lacerda Pimentel agrees but warns such projects should be “inserted within an overall global development strategy for the city, which doesn’t exist.”
Architect Manuel Aires Mateus who is in the running for the Parque Mayer redevelopment scheme, called the project “extremely interesting” adding that the Alcântara zone of Lisbon needed to attract residents.
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