What is actually a neighbourhood in the Porto area? Which are the spaces or systems of multiplicity, plurality, proximity, clustering of services, meeting points and shared public spaces? What binds us, collectively? Where do we meet and interact with each other? What kinds of spaces do we need, and how do we design and plan them? How can Porto benefit from those, and re-invent itself by using intelligent neighbourhood design, in north-western Portugal’s dispersed urban landscape, where the culture of neighbourhood design is practically absent?
The third edition of the European Summer School took place in the summer of 2016. This ten-day summer school – European Intensive Programme – consisted of several lectures, an intensive workshop and debates. Students worked in international teams, debating and confronting their experiences and cultures, seeking to highlight new perspectives and approaches on the neighbourhood concept and design. Case areas were several metro station areas in the Porto region.
The programme, challenging the role of urban planners and designers, was based on the idea that the contemporary neighbourhood is not a static concept, but rather a fluid notion open for multiple interpretations. It intended to question if a neighbourhood can be designed and planned. Is a neighbourhood a particular urban area with a defined target group of inhabitants and users? Or is a neighbourhood a more complex and open idea, grounded on the way people use the available network of public spaces? This last assumption points to the idea of working with the collective system of spaces and the facilities that enhance their individual capacities: the network and the multifunctional places.