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Revolutionary Housing: Citizen Engagement and Lessons from the Bouรงa Cooperative

Abraham William Roisman

University of Pennsylvania School of Design Master of Science in Architecture Research Report

Advisor Eduardo Rega Calvo Fall 2017


Index of Chapters

Abstract ​3 1. Housing as a Vessel for Social Change ​5 2. The Portuguese Revolution and the Making of a Housing Crisis ​8 3. The Serviço Ambulatório de Apoio Local (SAAL) ​23 4. Álvaro Siza Vieira and the Bouça Housing Complex, Porto ​30 5. After the SAAL ​77 6. Learning from Bouça ​88 Works Cited ​105


Index of Figures

Figures 1-2, Murals for the Carnation Revolution ​20-21 Figure 3, Contemporary Ilha, Porto ​22 Figures 4-10, Piscina das Marés, Leça da Palmeira ​44-50 Figures 11-13, The Beires House (Bomb House), Póvoa de Varzim ​51-53 Figure 14, Map of the SAAL Housing Cooperatives in Porto​ ​54 Figures 15-16, São Victor Housing Complex, Porto ​55-56 Figures 17-36, Bouça Housing Complex, Porto ​57-76 Figure 37-38, City of Évora ​79-80 Figures 39-45, Quinta da Malagueira, Évora ​81-87 Figures 46-50, Housing Model Actor-Network Flow Charts ​100-104


Abstract The affordable housing question spans all societies. The response to this problem reflects a society’s attitude towards community members of the highest need. By using the 1974 Portuguese Revolution and the subsequent housing program known as the Serviço Ambulatório de Apoio Local (SAAL — The Mobile Service for Local Assistance) as a case study, one can see the example of a society that inverted from a top-down authoritarian regime to a bottom-up system that placed the citizen at the center of political power. One project in particular, the Bouça Housing Complex in Porto, demonstrates the SAAL operations through the cooperation of the community with architect Álvaro Siza Vieira in his attempt to incorporate the needs of the residents in the design of the project. Siza learned from this process that citizen engagement creates a more successful and permanent solution for affordable housing and even integrated lessons from the SAAL into future developments such as the Quinta da Malagueira project outside of Évora. Learning from this experience, one can better understand the intent of affordable housing programs, especially in the United States, by dissecting the policies to understand who the real client is. While through the SAAL and Bouça we see a process in which the resident remains central, in other programs we can see that the client is primarily a government body, a non-profit developer reliant on charity, or a for-profit company that utilizes governmental subsidies. By using the SAAL model and the Bouça cooperative’s experience as guides for analysis, different methods of

4 providing affordable housing in the United States illustrate the effectiveness a program may have in providing permanent solutions for a low-income community.


1. Housing as a Vessel for Social Change

Architecture is the fixed stage for human events. Aldo Rossi1

Where we live is the “fixed stage” for our most intimate life events. A connection to the home is important for human life to develop, both for individuals and families. We feel safe at home to sleep, to eat, to clean ourselves, to raise a family, to store our belongings, sentimental, utilitarian, and aesthetic. A home is not readily accessible to all members of society, and as such we have developed ways in which people may become situated in temporary and sometimes permanent homes that are produced and assigned to residents by a public entity, a nonprofit developer, or even a private company.


Aldo Rossi, ​The Architecture of the City​, (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1984), 22.

6 Through different eras in a society’s history, one or all of these methods for providing housing demonstrate that society’s policy on the treatment of its poorest members. During the 1970s in Portugal, a significant transition took place, one in which the people demanded power through a participatory process following a strikingly nonviolent coup d’etat. Succeeding four decades of authoritarian rule, the society that emerged after the Portuguese revolution handled the matter of housing in an incredibly progressive way, in the spirit of the revolution. The poorest people of society suddenly had a voice in the way that their social benefits would be delivered. Collaborations between neighborhood commissions and nationally recognized architects allowed for some of the most successful public housing projects in history, the people not only investing their lives in these homes but also developing a sense of ownership of their houses and of their communities. To grasp at what makes affordable housing successful, a study into this period of Portuguese history provides us an example in which society conceived of progressive experiments and took measures to implement them. When this revolutionary period ended and made way for a constitutional government, this system of housing was deemed unsustainable by the conservative factions that took power. A deep understanding of this housing program and the role that architect Álvaro Siza Vieira played in it will provide discussion and analysis into alternative methods of providing housing to the poorest members of society, perhaps informing future methods for housing design and development. Using this model as a case study, it provides a method for analysis into the models utilized in the United States.

7 The term used to discuss housing for citizens of low socioeconomic status is relevant in understanding a society’s attitude towards people living in poverty. Perhaps “social housing” hints at a moral pride that members of a higher socioeconomic status may enjoy. “Affordable housing” affords a more direct understanding of how the situation appears: poor people cannot afford market-rate housing, so society develops housing that is affordable. Other terms exist, such as “public housing,” a term that indicates that the project in question was developed by a governmental body or with public funds. “Workforce housing” defines a type of development that lends itself to the lower-middle class, a step up from the most impoverished, as the users of this term may believe that housing is already affordable; to them the issue is job creation and alleviating poverty rather than providing a home as a basis for social mobility. “Community housing” can be used to indicate that a nonprofit entity both develops and manages a portfolio of housing for poor residents. For the purposes of this report, I will use the term “public housing” to designate that a property is developed and managed by the government; the term “affordable housing” will indicate that the property is not necessarily a product of a governmental body, but rather it is developed through any number of methods for the purpose of housing assistance for poor people. While many of these terms seem interchangeable and are readily confused by a number of people, it is important in this report to understand the nuance presented above in order to best understand the unique qualities to which I refer for a certain project.


2. The Portuguese Revolution and the Making of a Housing Crisis

Grândola, vila morena/Terra da fraternidade O povo é quem mais ordena/Dentro de ti, ó cidade2 Zeca Afonso

Between 1933 and 1974, Portugal was subject to an authoritarian regime led by Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar until he went into a coma in 1968, when he was replaced by Prime Minister Marcelo Caetano for the last 6 years of the corporatist, bureaucratic ​Estado Novo​ (New State). The Estado Novo dramatically fell with a coup d’etat during which only a few bullets were fired, a revolution whose symbol was the red carnation, often seen emerging from the barrel of a gun. During the last decades of the Estado Novo, domestic concerns in Portugal took a backseat to the struggle to maintain 2

“Grândola Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso played on the radio on April 25, 1974 to signal the start of the revolution in Portugal. The lyrics translate to, “Grândola, brown village, land of fraternity. It is the people who lead within you, oh city.”

9 power over colonies in Africa and Asia, as nationalist independence movements began to sweep these territories. With an analysis of the Salazarist government’s policies and bureaucratic system, I will demonstrate that the stagnant conditions for Portugal’s least advantaged citizens and the government’s negligence in not responding to the growth of slums and other manifestations of informal housing created a frustration so great that, in the advent of the revolution, radical change would come to address a housing crisis. In 1975, merely one year after the April 25 Revolution deposed the Estado Novo regime, scholar of Portuguese governance Lawrence Graham released a retrospective of the Salazar regime in ​The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order.​ Graham recognizes in his book that the “corporatist state” façade of the Estado Novo does not truly define the state’s bureaucratic administrative state; he explains that “the corporatist edifice begun by Salazar in the early years of the New State never was to see completion … corporatism was never to receive much more than lip service in the overseas territories.”3 Graham identifies significant turning points during the Salazar years by mentioning a series of reforms to rationalize and centralize the bureaucratic system in the 1930s and then the 1960s, which accompany the notion that Portugal “remained by intent a traditional society characterized by limited participation in its political, social, and economic life,” indicating that the society was dominated by “elitist, personalist, and non-revolutionary values” during this era.4 In order to maintain this social system, Salazar established the ​União Nacional​ (National Union) later replaced by Caetano’s ​Acção Nacional Popular​ (National Popular Action) to connect community Lawrence Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, (Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications, 1975), 15. 4 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 18. 3

10 leaders to the regime and enforce its policy on the local level.5 Even “clandestine political parties,” which existed during the Estado Novo era, were often infiltrated by secret police.6 From the federal level to the community level, Salazar was able to pull the strings of society and government at his disposal without significant resistance. Kenneth Maxwell, British historian, likens the Salazar government in its early years to that of Benito Mussolini in Italy. He cites a “Mussolini-inspired labor law that banned strikes and a ruthless secret police” as similarities between the two regimes, both possessing “formidable means of repression.”7 In contrast to Mussolini’s Italy, Maxwell recognizes that this came at a cost; Salazar “[rejected] industrialization as a harbinger of class and labor problems, glorifying a sanitized peasant and folkloric tradition, Salazar’s Portugal was firmly set against the twentieth century.” Despite these repressive policies in the Estado Novo, Maxwell credits Salazar for providing order and balancing the budget.8 In Maxwell’s research, he discusses three points in history when the Salazar regime faced public opposition. After the Second World War, with the Allies victorious, the Portuguese society questioned its similarities to the systems of National Socialism in Germany and Italian fascism, Maxwell arguing that the regime was “far from comfortable in a democratic world [facing] considerable political mobilization” from its citizenry.9 Despite its clear differences to other founding members, Portugal was an

Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 33. Kenneth Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 71. 7 Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 16. 8 Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 17. 9 Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 48. 5


11 initial signer of NATO, to which Salazar responded by saying that it “did not signify acceptance of what he regarded as the vague and wordy invocations of liberal and democratic principles in its charter.”10 Another moment of political opposition took root between 1958 and 1962 with the rise of General Humberto Delgado, prompting “large-scale popular mobilization.” Maxwell suggests that Delgado may have won the election “had it not been for fraud.”11 The third moment during the Estado Novo era in which Maxwell identifies political uprising was during the transfer of power from Salazar following his stroke to Caetano; during the period between 1968-1971 Maxwell suggests that more “European-oriented and modern-minded people entered into the government and National Assembly.”12 In the last decade of the Estado Novo era, roughly 1964 onwards, the power shifted away from a centralized and unchallenged control at the hands of the premier and began to experience “an expansion in bureaucratic power” so autonomous that the “administrative state … continued to operate without much guidance from Salazar as he aged and was ultimately succeeded by Marcello Caetano.”13 With the majority of the authoritarian empire’s territories situated overseas in Africa and Asia as well as having been a “bureaucrat nurtured by the system,” Graham argues that Caetano was like a “prisoner” to the regime that he inherited, having little command over its fate.14 Graham explains that Caetano began displaying a lack of control especially by 1971, as the burden of independence movements in the African colonies, worsening economic

Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 46. Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 49. 12 Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 53. 13 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 14. 14 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 15. 10 11

12 conditions, and internal factionalism threatened his position as premier. In the late 1960s, four clear factions arose: the ultraconservatives, the integrationists, the federalists, and developmentalists.15 Most of these factions focused their policies on the question of the overseas territories. The ultraconservatives believed in a “greater Portugal,” suggesting that buckling down on the colonial system that has existed since the 1930s would solve the economic hardship that the country endured during this period.16 The integrationists believed that by entirely dismantling the Overseas Ministry and promoting the Overseas Minister to vice-president, thus integrating the colonies completely, would quell the concurrent uprisings, particularly in Angola where the guerilla forces had seized control of a sizeable portion of the northern part of the territory.17 The federalist position, contrastingly, believed that granting increased authority to the territories themselves would allow for more effective internal development, that “more and more of the burden of military action should be borne by the provinces themselves out of their own internal budgets.” This position was supported by Caetano himself, as reflected by his administration’s policies during the last years of the Estado Novo. It was also supported by “creole elites” in Angola and Mozambique.18 In contrast to the other three fragments, the developmentalists had a more Eurocentric position. Dominated by economists, the developmentalists argued for increased participation in the European Economic Community, focusing on keeping

Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 40. Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 41. 17 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 42-43. 18 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 45. 15


13 Portuguese peasants from emigrating to other European countries or the provinces abroad. Emigration patterns began to change dramatically from countries like Brazil to other countries in Europe due to more attractive wages. At least 1.5 million Portuguese citizens lived abroad by 1975, over 700,000 of which were in France and 115,000 in West Germany. During a time of increasing urbanization, two out of three Portuguese people that left the countryside were relocating to foreign countries rather than Portuguese cities.19 Graham explains that “for [the developmentalists], the overseas [territories were] a burden, a drag on overall economic growth and structural change; more a liability than an asset.”20 Between these four factions, not a single proponent — excepting the limited success of the federalist position — saw high status within the government; in Graham’s analysis we see that only “those who rose to the top did so only after years of demonstrated allegiance to the regime.”21 Considering the autonomous nature of the Portuguese political system by the time that Caetano rose to power, Graham indicates that the real transition under the Estado Novo was one of a personalistic rule with Salazar at the head of every major decision to a bureaucratic rule in which the system provided for itself, a situation that would not last long due to changing social, economic, and political conditions. In Maxwell’s account of the last years of the Estado Novo, he cites several conditions as motives for social uprising in the 1970s. An interesting phenomenon that he discusses is the advent of a growing tourism industry in Portugal; this set off an Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 23. Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 47. 21 Graham, ​Portugal: The Decline and Collapse of an Authoritarian Order​, 55. 19


14 explosion in construction of houses in small villages and on the outskirts of cities where Europeans could vacation, creating as many as 244,000 jobs in construction in 1973 alone. He offers that at the same time of this influx of tourists, many middle class citizens of Portugal “lived without the most basic facilities … in indistinguishable apartments stuffed with imitation furniture and plastic chandeliers ... [they] desired nothing more than to be ‘Europeans’” like the visitors that they were accustomed to serving.22 Those living in the lowest socioeconomic strata of Portuguese society had a far more difficult reality to face. The prominence of slums over the decades of the dictatorship created a situation in which thousands of residents in cities across Portugal were living in shacks called ​barracas,​ which were unfit for health reasons and provided little protection from the elements; in the 1970s, residents in barracas were especially prone to cholera and many died from the disease. Based on census data, the number of people living in barracas in Lisbon hovered between 41,000 and 49,000 people between the years 1936 and 1970, roughly 6 percent of the city’s population.23 In Porto, rows of housing were developed by bourgeoisie property owners within the deep pockets behind their homes. These ​ilhas​ (Portuguese for islands) often had only one bathroom serving the entire neighborhood. While these structures were more sound than the barracas of cities like Lisbon, they were still not adequate to meet the needs of the often dozens of families living within them. It is important to note that the governing structure of the ilhas was completely private and unregulated. Landowners with deep lots that Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 24-25. Pedro Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75,​ (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2013), 40-41. 22 23

15 developed ilhas were essentially in competition to lure in residents recently migrated to the city as the 20th century saw a large growth in urban settlement while the agrarian society shrank in the countryside. This contributed to overcrowding in the city, thus the ilha-style development that ensued. These structures, albeit inadequate and unsafe, were preferred over the tin-city shantytowns in Lisbon and other cities, as they provided a better quality of life governed at the hyperlocal level. Another housing issue that was beyond a visible problem was that many people were living in old structures in the middle of cities. The inner city was very dilapidated, and people were living in poor conditions with no facilities, often subdivided for multiple families in a unit. In fact, inner-city renewal only became a priority in the 21st century, and to this day some ilhas still remain in Porto.24 Along with the declaration of the Estado Novo, the dictatorship announced a housing scheme in 1933 called ​Programas das Casas Económicas​ (Affordable Houses Program) that saw the construction of new homes for people living in poverty. The first of these projects saw the completion of the Arco do Cego and Ajuda neighborhoods in Lisbon, which were abandoned by the government in 1919. By the year 1943, the government had only completed 5 of these projects, all directed to assist residents in the lower middle class and none of which to ameliorate the difficulties of people living in barracas.25 In addition to the fact that the progress was not fast enough to address the urgent housing shortage, the government never matched residents to the completed


Sandra Marques Pereira, “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon,” interview by Abraham W. Roisman, 14 September 2017. 25 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 47-48.

16 units in many of the later developments, leaving thousands of new homes vacant.26 This inability or unwillingness for the government to intervene with the housing shortage would trigger several responses from the people and even within the government. In 1936, an inquiry was conducted into the residents of ilhas and slums, the conclusion of which determined that only “a scant hundred” people living in this type of housing even qualified for the Affordable Houses Program, the reasons being that most of these citizens did not meet the age requirement of 21-40 and primarily because they could not afford the $85 a month rent — for reference, over twice the cost of living in a barraca. In 1944, Le Corbusier’s publication of the Athens Charter became available in Portuguese. Pedro Ramos Pinto, a Portuguese historian, explains that “a new generation of Portuguese architects embraced modernism and used its ideas to reject both the scale and traditionalism of the regime’s early housing interventions.” Under the program at that time, the policy was to build detached, single-family homes, which was both economically draining and inefficient given the volume of people in need of homes. By 1948, these architects organized the First National Congress of Architects, criticizing the Affordable Houses Program, deeming it “not viable for the mass of the population.”27 The modern movement and mass housing crept into Portuguese architecture with hesitance in the 1950s when the plan for the towers at Olivais, a neighborhood in Lisbon, were unveiled. These towers demonstrated an attempt for the regime to address the issue of growing slums in Lisbon, but on its own could not remedy the situation for enough residents of the city let alone in other locales, according to Professor Sandra Ronald H. Chilcote, ​The Portuguese Revolution: State and Class in the Transition to Democracy,​ (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010), 144. 27 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 53. 26

17 Marques Pereira at the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa at the University Institute of Lisbon. This project, rather, inspired a movement of mass housing for the middle class that remained in private development and had no social mission.28 When Marcello Caetano assumed power in 1968, he saw the need to rebrand the Estado Novo in light of the growing concerns for living conditions of Portugal’s poorest citizens. He unveiled the ​Estado Social​ (Social State) initiatives, outlining a comprehensive five-year plan that recognized the failures of previous housing schemes. The government called for the 1969 Housing Congress in which experts gathered to discuss the issues surrounding housing, concluding with a report that stated, “Each family unit needs a home. From this comes the concept of the right to housing which, being a right, has to be assured to all by the collectivity, under the responsibility of the State.”29 While Caetano’s intentions were to calm social concerns of the citizens, the plan delivered more rhetoric than results and the discussions and publications yielded little more than bold conclusions that would later serve as references for new beginnings under a new system. Portugal was not in need of a set of reforms, rather this process only highlighted the greater change that was to come. Major Melo Antunes founded the Movimento das Forças Armadas (Armed Forces Movement — MFA) in early 1974 to oppose the Estado Novo regime with a general statement of principle that sought to create “peace among Portuguese of all races and creeds,” that the struggle with overseas territories clouded the need for “a new economic 28

Sandra Marques Pereira, “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon.” 29 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 57-59.

18 policy geared to the interests of the Portuguese people, in particular to that stratum of the population less favored.”30 On April 25 of that year, at 12:25am, José Vasconcelos, a famous radio personality, read the lyrics to a popular song by Zeca Afonso called “Grândola, Vila Morena” about a town in the Alentejo region of the country, the breadbasket of Portugal, and the importance of fraternity. This song signaled the MFA to descend on the Carmo Barracks, where Caetano was hiding, protected by the secret police. A brief shootout ensued, but the coup was soon over; Caetano ceded power but only under the agreement that General António de Spínola would assume leadership of the state, not Antunes of the MFA himself.31 Spínola was not the obvious choice for the MFA, especially since he objected to a lot of their early language criticizing the Estado Novo regime, deeming it offensive to call the government “fascist.” Caetano was familiar with Spínola for his high status in the military and also for his book, published in February of that year, called ​Portugal and the Future;​ Caetano feared that the end of the Estado Novo was close due to the revolutionary nature of this text. Spínola agreed to assume power but only with the support of the MFA, which he received.32 While the military coup brought down the Salazarist rule, the next few years saw the power of citizens’ brigades and local organizations rather than broad sweeping federal programs — a significant shift from the previous government. In the days following the revolution, a new spirit swept the country. By April 26, the communist party’s newspaper ​Avante!​ began publishing openly. As Maxwell Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 56-57. Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 57-58. 32 Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 58-59. 30 31

19 explains, this revolution had larger connotations, as it “brought down Europe’s oldest dictatorship [and] foreshadowed the end of its oldest empire.33 The communist party, whose members were the most imprisoned under the Estado Novo, were seen as the heroes of the new regime, thus “the terms of political discourse following the coup were … almost entirely framed in the phraseology of the left.”34 The systems to develop during the first few years after the revolution, before the constitutional government was established in 1976, would reflect this leftist dominance.

33 34

Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 60. Maxwell, ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy,​ 62.


Figure 1. ​A mural of a soldier with a carnation in the barrel of her gun, painted onto an affordable housing project in the Graça neighborhood of Lisbon.


Figure 2. ​A mural representing the revolution, including two rifles with carnations in the barrels, painted on a wall at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa.


Figure 3. ​This view into an alleyway behind a main house reveals the row of homes that make up an ilha. This contemporary ilha remains due to its sound structure and availability of services for each unit. Most ilhas have been demolished and their residents relocated to housing projects developed by various schemes stemming from the 1970s with the SAAL and even into the 1990s.35


Sandra Marques Pereira, “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon.”


3. The Serviço Ambulatório de Apoio Local (SAAL)

You should not see the revolution as a rupture. Sandra Marques Pereira36

A response to the housing crisis and the inadequacy of the Estado Novo’s response to it, the ​Serviço Ambulatório de Apoio Local​ (SAAL — the Mobile Service for Local Assistance) grew out of an emerging political system that recognized neighborhood commissions known as ​juntas de freguesia,​ giving legitimacy to the voices of people, encouraging them to participate in the political process in a way that was inaccessible prior to the revolution. The SAAL is a prime example of how the political process in Portugal was turned upside-down in the advent of the April 25


Sandra Marques Pereira, “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon.”

24 revolution. By taking the people’s input and by turning it into a design and development plan for new housing, the SAAL reinvented the housing system in a way that allowed for the people to truly invest in their future homes and communities. Still, Pereira insists that the SAAL did not appear in a vacuum. Architect Nuno Portas who was active in addressing the question of housing before the revolution began research into alternative methods of affordable housing development, notably in Latin America where polling future residents and conducting surveys played an important role in the design stages of these projects. The work that set the stage for the SAAL happened in the 1960s already, though it was not “completely visible” due to its contradiction to official governmental policy on the matter. These groups comprised of architects active in the greater European dialogue about post-war social housing schemes as well as social scientists that focused on the societies within slums and ilhas throughout Portugal. Once the revolution transpired, this discussion no longer remained private.37 In addition, it is clear that the hyperlocal focus of the SAAL, particularly in Porto, reflected a parallel to the governing structure of the ilhas by landowners, but this time with the expertise of architects, engineers, and social workers to maintain the effectively desirable aspects of the ilha lifestyle without sacrificing quality of life. Officially announced in June of 1974, the SAAL was a direct response to several weeks of fast-moving shifts in the reality of housing in light of the revolution. Ronald Chilcote, an economist and political science scholar with a focus on Portugal and Brazil, argues that the SAAL was a means of “co-opting neighborhood commissions” who had


Sandra Marques Pereira, “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon.”

25 begun to act independently given the power vacuum at higher levels of government since the Estado Novo had been deposed. Starting merely days after the revolution, these freguesias began to organize occupations of empty housing projects and apartment buildings developed in the last years of the Estado Novo era. Only two weeks after the revolution, over 1,500 units had been occupied by those who had previously lived in barracas. These occupations began in neighborhoods in the western fringe of Lisbon but soon spread to other cities like Setúbal and Porto. By May 11 of 1974, the military government banned these occupations but “implied that it would respect those already filled by destitute families.”38 During the three provisional governments following the revolution, Nuno Portas was Spínola’s choice for Secretary of State for Housing and Urbanism, and given his background in investigating the housing question in Portugal, the SAAL became a reality. According to the Official Gazette of the SAAL on August 6, 1974, the intention was to provide “immediate involvement [to deprived social groups] in self-managed solutions, with the support of the state with regard to land, infrastructures, technical assistance and financing.”39 The program was to launch in September of 1974 with the cooperation of nine freguesias, seven of which would see the construction of new housing cooperatives through the program. The program saw the formation of brigades that “supported and aided the creation of cooperatives and the holding of regular public

Chilcote, ​The Portuguese Revolution: State and Class in the Transition to Democracy​, 144-145. Camila Rodrigues, “Participation and the Quality of Democracy in Portugal,” ​Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais​, 108 (2015), 88. 38 39

26 meetings, discussing the necessary improvements and the design of the new neighbourhoods.”40 In an effort to prove the commitment of the brigades to hard progress rather than a mere discussion of interventions, the initial phases saw initiatives to address immediate needs of the neighborhoods, such as the installation of additional water taps when as many as a thousand people only had access to one water source, phone boxes, a connection to electricity, sewage systems, public lighting, and garbage removal systems. This “palliative” approach was welcomed by several neighborhoods that subscribed to the SAAL, but it discouraged others that were wary of government interventions as they had endured so many decades of false promises by the previous government. In addition, not all of the neighborhoods that cooperated with the SAAL received immediate support, as initial resources for the program were not sufficient for all of the requests for assistance.41,42 With regards to the building of homes, the intention was to build them quickly — in a timeline of three years, approximately — to “avoid despair over ‘failed promises’ and ‘unfulfilled expectations.’”43 Having survived the Estado Novo years where the only housing provided was for people of higher socioeconomic status than the people living in barracas and ilhas despite reports and commissions informing the government of this issue, one cannot blame these residents for having doubts about a government sponsored project that sought to improve their plight.

Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 110. Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 110-111. 42 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 130. 43 Eduardo Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” ​City,​ 20:4 (2016), 569. 40 41

27 Another divisive feature of the SAAL was the concept of ​auto-construção (self-build) — the idea that residents of the future housing complexes would build the properties themselves, thus creating jobs and a sense of ownership of the new homes. While some brigades welcomed the concept, others argued that it was a “double exploitation,” claiming that “they were already exploited in their places of work.”44 Yet in some places, residents were not necessarily troubled by the expectation that they work during the day at their jobs and during the night to “self-build” their homes, as it further provided a sense of ownership of the new neighborhoods.45 One of the main principles of the SAAL was the Portuguese version of the “right to the city,” ​direito ao lugar​ (literally the “right to the place”). SAAL projects inherently existed on the same site or close to the ilhas and barracas that they replaced, offering only permanent housing solutions. By preventing displacement, residents were able to maintain their community structures and local cultures. In order to preserve their lifestyles, SAAL brigades engaged in conversations with the designers and even social workers in order to express what they needed most in the developments. According to Álvaro Siza Vieira, this dialogue was “brutally honest, even conflictual,” discussing “house layouts (interior organization), morphology (density and street grid), and land tenure issues, all to be negotiated and designed in cooperation.” Women were particularly engaged in these issues, often helping architects draw the houses and understand the placement of furniture and the routes taken between rooms.46 Urban anthropologist at the University of Lisbon Eduardo Ascensão argues that the citizenship Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 130-131. Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” 569. 46 Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” 567. 44 45

28 status of residents in the ilhas was “radically altered” given the dialogues between them and the architects designing their future homes.47 With regard to the design of these homes, emphasis on the living style of people in the ilhas was highly regarded as a vernacular that would be incorporated into many of the designs. Ascensão discusses that this focus on approximating the ilhas’ morphology was to preserve “the existing sociability, but of course with each house now having its own toilet instead of sharing one at the end of an inner patio.” This was particularly evident in Siza’s designs for Bouça and São Victor in Porto. Many other projects simply recreated the low- and medium-rise density of the ilhas.48 The fusion of the ilha aesthetic and density coupled with contemporary services demonstrates a true commitment of those cooperating with the SAAL to the residents’ living conditions and culture. In addition, the process of development during the SAAL era reflected the self-initiated housing process of the ilhas. In her 2015 article called “Participation and the Quality of Democracy in Portugal” in the Portuguese ​Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais​ (Critical Review of Social Sciences), Camila Rodrigues examines how the SAAL represents the high levels of citizen engagement during the post-revolutionary period. She offers that despite counter-reforms limiting the program’s ability to address the majority of the housing shortage, the SAAL managed to produce 140 interventions, which involved 41,665 families. Rodrigues argues that the SAAL’s method of neighborhood participation was “transformative,” stating that the “traditional hierarchies were not only challenged but

47 48

Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” 570. Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” 569.

29 completely dismantled and the path to a classless socialism was viewed by the relevant political agents as a real and viable option.”49 In his analysis of the SAAL and Siza’s design for the São Victor neighborhood in Porto, Spanish architect Aitor Varea Oro insists that the SAAL showed “the potential of social movements as an engine for urban renewal. Between the public and private sector one finds a third sector that is at the same time a source of knowledge and a productive energy. In the case of the SAAL, one can see at the same time its greatest weakness and strength.”50 Despite initial success from the view of the communities and the brigades, the SAAL was not a sustainable program given the political climate of Portugal as it adopted a new constitution in 1976. Ramos Pinto argues that the delays in construction left the program’s reputation in question, as only 172 houses had begun construction by the time the government repealed the SAAL. While projects in the initial phase of the SAAL were completed, only 1,852 of these units would see completion by 1995. A result of the program, however, was that many of the cooperatives continued to exist and mobilize people on the local level. Future housing initiatives, Pinto discusses, were successful in “almost eradicating shantytowns by the mid-1990s,” but they were developed through a top-down system that was more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime than that of the post-revolutionary spirit.51,​ 52


Rodrigues, “Participation and the Quality of Democracy in Portugal,” 88. Aitor Varea Oro, “District of São Victor of Álvaro Siza: Between Theory and Practice of the SAAL Operations,” ​Habitat y habitar,​ 9 (2013), 106. Translated from Spanish. 51 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 218-219. 52 Ramos Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75​, 225. 50


4. Álvaro Siza Vieira and the Bouça Housing Complex, Porto

The residents felt they lived in ‘magnificent isolation’ in the centre of town. Álvaro Siza Vieira53

Álvaro Siza Vieira began his career as an architect during the Salazar years. A student of Fernando Távora, he was one of the pioneers of the “Porto School” of design that was a response to the Beaux-Arts tradition of Portugal prior to the mid-20th century. In an attempt to understand the Porto School, one must first understand the influence that Távora had on his students through his work. Távora’s designs sought to “organize space to man’s scale,” perhaps a result of studying humanistic pedagogy at the Escola de Belas Artes do Porto​ (School of Beaux-Arts of Porto — EBAP).54 According to Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 10. Gonçalo Canto Moniz et al., “Fernando Távora, Oporto’s Urban Renewal: A Changing Moment in Urban Rehabilitation Policy Debate,” ​Journal of Urban History,​ 2017, 3. 53


31 Portuguese architect Paulo Tormenta Pinto, Távora explored modernist styles like that of “Gropius and rational purism” despite his background in the Beaux-Arts. He cited Le Corbusier and Brazilian modern architecture as influences, bringing to the Porto School a fascination with the ​Brazil Builds​ exhibition at MoMA in New York in 1942. Távora’s fascination was largely in the Portuguese house during this era, arguing that there was a relationship between the past and the vernacular, rejecting a “false academism” in following blind modernism. He called history “a prison from which [Portuguese architects] would never be liberated.”55 For the Porto School, there was also an emphasis on collaboration, as Távora “believed that the architect should learn to put his efforts in the service of the collective.”56 For Siza, the manifestation of the Porto School included the “capacity to transform programs into imaginative shapes … whether conceived in syntony with the place or, on the contrary, as a reaction to it, when Siza inserts his building in an ordinary or truly hostile context, the projects always shape their surroundings.”57 After severe criticism by his professor Carlos Ramos, Siza was encouraged to “go to a good book shop and buy some magazines,” which was when he came across the December 1960 edition of ​Architecture d’Aujourd’hui​ featuring Alvar Aalto’s recent work. This exposure led him to create designs that attracted Távora and eventually led to a professional partnership between the two. Early on in life, Siza’s father introduced


Paulo Tormenta Pinto, “Fernando Távora - do problema da casa portuguesa à casa de Férias de Ofir,” DC: Revista de crítica arquitectònica​, 9-10 (2003), 61-63. 56 Eduardo Fernandes, “Critical eclecticism. The way(s) of the Porto School,” ​Docomomo Journal​ 49 (2013/2), 55. 57 Jean-Louis Cohen, “Una arquitectura sin mayúsculas; Architecture without capital letters,” ​AV monografías​, 186-187 (2016), 9-11.

32 him to the importance of local culture, saying that “curiously, the first thing my father went to see in any city was the market. He said the market is like the window into a city’s soul. You can see what its people are really like.” Through this understanding of local culture, Siza took an interest not only in designing buildings for a specific site, but also for a specific character.58 Early in his career, Siza had the opportunity to design a house for Portuguese writer Luisa Ferreira da Costa in his native Matosinhos, a small coastal city on the outskirts of Porto. By 1967, this led to a commission to design the house for a doctor in Porto by the name of Manuel Magalhães. The house created a dissonance with the traditional neighboring houses by incorporating multiple, shallow roof slopes that defined interior volumes from the exterior. The house’s profile was much longer and lower than the houses surrounding it, causing it to almost disappear into the outer wall containing the courtyards adjacent to the home.59 In 1973 he designed a house for Major Carlos Machado de Beires in a town north of Porto, Póvoa de Varzim. The brief for the home was simply a house with a courtyard, but Siza explored untraditional forms to place the internal spaces with as much access to the courtyard as possible. As such he pushed the house itself to the edges of the property, creating an arc-shaped courtyard. The second floor is recessed to create a crater-like effect, the courtyard getting wider as one’s eyes travel upward; from this comes the house’s nickname the “Bomb House.” The recession of the second floor allows for skylights into the front spaces of the ground floor. In the corner of the courtyard Álvaro Siza, “Álvaro Siza Vieira … by himself,” ​SCALAE: documents periódics d’arquitectura,​ interview by Félix Arranz, Summer 2014 59 Colien Tange, “Álvaro Siza in Focus,” ​architecture + urbanism​ December 1980, 15-18. 58

33 opposite the house, Siza creates a column as if to anchor the courtyard into the property, also to define the property’s limits. It also serves as the center for the radii that extend outward to the edges of the courtyard. Though it looks completely different from the vernacular architecture of northern Portugal, Siza insists that the courtyard creates an “intermediate space that controls the change in temperature between indoors and the outdoors. It can be seen in some houses built in the 18th and 19th centuries, both in the cities and the country.” While aesthetically nontraditional, the functional impact of his interior courtyard arguably aligns with tradition in this region.60 This exploration into residential design gave Siza the experience he would later use to compose living spaces in affordable housing projects such as Bouça. His inventive command of space and discarding of traditional forms without breaking from traditional concepts allowed him to free himself of the shackles of the Beaux-Arts background that the Porto School began to challenge during his education and subsequent work with Távora. He reconciles this when he says, “All objects have a story. … We can attempt to introduce differences that result from materials or in the meaning of proportions, but at its core it should subsist that the essence of a chair is its relationship to the body.”61 It is this essence that drives Siza’s design, the essence of a story and not the literal interpretation. Prior to this, Siza’s first project accessible to the public was the Casa da Chá da Boa Nova in Leça da Palmeira, a suburb of Porto close to where he grew up. This tea


Ángel Melián García, "Creating the Place (1): Analogies Between Picasso's Cubist Paintings and Álvaro Siza's Architecture. La Casa Beires, Álvaro Siza; Póvoa do Varzim, Oporto (1973-1976)," ​Revista de expresión gráfica arquitectónica​, 24:1 (2014), 80-91. 61 Álvaro Siza, ​Imaginar a evidência,​ (Rome: Gius. Laterza & Figli S.p.A., 1998), 134-135.

34 house on the rocky beach was designed and built between 1958-1963. Architect Alexandre Alves Costa describes the project as a building designed “in contemplation/understanding of nature, not being, however, mimetic or passive, but a generous identification and active interpretation.”62 Through its tracing of the rock formations, generous views of the ocean are uninterrupted from outside and within the restaurant. The building keeps a low profile along the shore but opens up inside to preserve the views that one can enjoy along the rocky coastline. This design resonates with Siza’s understanding of what remains important not only to the natural elements of the site but to the community that would enjoy its function. Through the design of the restaurant, Siza remained very aware of the dictatorship and the “will to impose the idea of a national style.” However, he also recognized through this process that regional preferences for historical influence and the use of local materials that design was able to adapt to different climates, be they landscape conditions, architectural preferences, or cultural specificities. Siza explains that “the diversity was real and exciting, and it showed that, in Portugal, architecture was not the façade of a national political will. This was important to my generation of upcoming architects.”63 Despite the authoritarian regime, Siza found refuge in expression through architecture. Siza’s early work, however, was not received well by critics, as they thought Siza “was being too restrained by the local context.”64 Perhaps the newness of the Porto


3. 63 64

Alexandre Alves Costa, ​Álvaro Siza: Casa da Chá da Boa Nova​, (Porto, Portugal: AMAG Books, 2016), Dawne McCance, “An Interview with Álvaro Siza,” 117. Carlos Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty,​ (London: Phaidon Press, 2009), 6.

35 School, the dominance of the Beaux-Arts tradition in Porto, the straying from a national style of the dictatorship was too avant-garde for a culture subject to a top-down system. Rather the focus of Siza’s design was in “language and memory, the way to communicate construction with oneself and others,” a humanistic approach that considered the user and client of a building with equal importance.65 In 1960, during the construction of the Casa da Chá, Siza was invited to design tidal pools alongside the restaurant, which would be known as Piscina das Marés.66 This project was different than the restaurant in that it was equally accessible for rich and poor. The pools, perhaps even more than the tea house, respect the natural aspects of its surroundings, as the pools are carved into the rock formations themselves. Like the Casa da Chá, the structures built for showers and lockers are buried into the rocks like dugouts, their roofs reflecting the natural ridge and providing natural light without compromising privacy. Through these two projects, Siza successfully transformed a stretch of beach while respecting the natural elements of the site. As Portuguese scholar Rita Tavares de Almeida Besteira explains, these early projects demonstrated that Siza was “constantly seeking … ‘continuity’ … [that] in both projects what matters is the perception of the city as a territory constructed by many layers. According to Siza none of those layers should be removed.”67 Through the beginnings of his career, Siza discusses that he worked with a site to explore its limits as well as the natural axes that ran through it, whether it be from


McCance, “An Interview with Álvaro Siza,” 116. Christian Gänshirt, ​Swimming Pool on the Beach at Leça de Palmeira, Álvaro Siza 1959-73,​ (Lisbon: Editorial Blau, 2004). 67 Rita Tavares de Almeida Besteira, ​Avenida da Ponte 1968/2000: Álvaro Siza, Arquitectura e Cidade,​ Dissertation, Faculty of Architecture University of Porto, September 2012, 7. 66

36 geography or the built environment in the immediate surroundings. He was able to experiment with the relationship between spaces as well as their “encounter with nature.” Having worked with the rocky beach and being able to expand on his work when the city council hired him for the tidal pools alongside the earlier restaurant, Siza became very familiar with the site and was able to maximize his influence on the relationship between the two projects.68 His commitment to articulating the site and respecting tradition without sacrificing a sensibility for environment. Through his experiences designing social projects, the tradition and site were expressed through a commitment to the people and the urban environment in which they lived. Siza became a key figure to the SAAL, particularly in Porto. Several of the SAAL projects were built in Porto. Interestingly, as Pinto discusses, personnel of the SAAL in Porto were politically aligned with the far left and even faced violent attacks by the right wing organizations, dominant in the region, including a bombing that destroyed the SAAL offices on January 14, 1976, towards the end of the program’s activities. Weeks later, a SAAL staff member’s car was bombed as well.69 Siza’s affiliation with the left following the revolution paved the way for his connection to the SAAL operations that were selected for housing projects in Porto, adjacent to his hometown of Matosinhos. The city’s struggle for the SAAL to succeed demonstrates a commitment to the revolutionary values, fortifying a bottom-up grassroots system when formerly confronted with top-down oppressive policies.

68 69

Siza, ​Imaginar a evidência​, 30-31. Pinto, ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75,​ 207.

37 Varea Oro argues that what made Porto unique during the SAAL era came from an emphasis on “physical and social evaluation of the sites, … the location of vacant public spaces within the neighborhood itself, … and the adequacy of the existing dwellings and those developed in the last phase.”70 Siza actually designed two projects for the SAAL in Porto. The lesser known of these projects was the neighborhood at São Victor. Similar to Bouça, São Victor “is presented with traces of the pre-existing urban conditions, recreating the cultural attitudes and relationships as mediating elements between constructive solutions and the conformity of the urban environment.”71 Siza saw value in the way that people lived in the ilhas and did not seek to disrupt this lifestyle by imposing housing types that were unfamiliar to the residents. I would argue that this demonstrates a true consideration of the participants’ wishes in the conception stages of development. The São Victor neighborhood is located on the eastern edge of Porto, unlike Bouça which is quite central. Between the two, there are several shared characteristics besides the approximation and representation of the ilha architecture that preceded the projects. At São Victor, however, the terraced row homes are a series of two-story three-bedroom units, whereas Bouça is comprised of two-story two- to three-bedroom units stacked across detached four-story rows. Both projects are primarily composed of concrete, São Victor rendered blue and Bouça primarily off-white with a deep red emphasizing some of the project’s rooftops and the ambulatory spaces. Bouça contains


Varea Oro, “District of São Victor of Álvaro Siza: Between Theory and Practice of the SAAL Operations,” 106. 71 Varea Oro, “District of São Victor of Álvaro Siza: Between Theory and Practice of the SAAL Operations,” 110.

38 three times the number of units as São Victor currently, Bouça with 126 apartments and São Victor with 42 units; São Victor was projected to encompass 630 apartments but because of the cancellation of the SAAL program before its completion, only these units were completed.72,73 Upon the first phase of completion in 1977, only 56 units had been completed at Bouça. The project was later completed in the early 2000s.74 It is important to note that the original conception of the Bouça neighborhood began in 1972 during the dictatorship. These drawings were scrapped when the revolution took place, and the project was soon after adopted by the SAAL in cooperation with the junta de freguesia then living in adjacent, occupied buildings. The original drawings do reflect the ilha morphology, Siza hyper aware of the pre-existing lifestyle of the residents of this project. Bouça is comprised of four rows of apartments diminishing in number through a narrowing site. There are three courtyards between these four strips of homes, one of which is left bare, one with trees planted throughout, and one with grass. The rows back onto a wall, behind which is the Lapa light rail station that has connected the residents to the rest of the city since the 1990s.75 Each apartment is open to windows on both the front and back, a double aspect to the adjacent courtyards. On the end of each row facing the street exists commercial spaces that are both a part of the composition but also separate from the residential zone. This integration of public and private space


Varea Oro, “District of São Victor of Álvaro Siza: Between Theory and Practice of the SAAL Operations,” 110. 73 Serralves Foundation, ​O Processo SAAL: Arquitectura e participação 1974-1976,​ 114. 74 Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 10. 75 Metro do Porto, “History,”, accessed 8 September 2017.

39 seamlessly recreates the neighborhood feeling, the street being public and the courtyards being semi-private. A number of features demonstrate the connection that Siza shared with the residents of Bouça. The most notable of these features are the “false stairs” that root the lower units of one of the courtyards into the courtyard itself. These vestigial components do not actually function as stairs, as they are quite steep and lead to a large window rather than a doorway. Yet they invite residents to decorate their façade with plants and other outdoor garnishes. The courtyard of these false stairs remains quite stark, however, and not many of the residents tend to take advantage of the feature as a frame for the open space. Nevertheless, it offers a unique design choice that can only have come from Siza’s imagination through his interactions with the residents. Another feature that shows compromise between Siza and the residents is the gardening strips that line the outer edges of the upstairs passages, which also frame the courtyards. These gardening strips allowed residents to plant flowers, herbs, and even vegetables right outside their apartments without interrupting the space of the courtyard below. They add color to the project while also offering a useful solution for the upstairs units to engage in gardening without disrupting the line of access through the walkways. This feature is particularly interesting because the gardening strips are cut out from the concrete, creating a permanent space for horticulture rather than the green space option that the false stairs and the other courtyards provide beneath. Bouça not only incorporates features that humanize the space and the units, but it also recognizes the diversity of life. Each courtyard is different with regards to its

40 topography yet equal in width, its length corresponding to the number of units that flank it. The front and rear access to units provides a different experience on both ends of the apartments, each of which has access to green space and open space for a connection to nature as well as a functional site for community gatherings, formal and informal. There are of course little signatures of Siza’s design throughout, notably the false stairs and the gardening strips as solutions for residents’ personal touches to their apartments’ outer appearances, but also the split barn doors for access to the units. Each of these features tells a story, much like Siza’s other works. By valuing the residents’ needs as central to the design of this project, Siza acts on his political leanings by creating space that is both nurturing for social mobility and comforting for private life. With the government’s decision to repeal the SAAL, work on Bouça stopped after just over one third of the units completed. In 2001 the project resumed, and Siza had the opportunity to continue his work until all of the units were realized. Though the renovation and expansion largely reflected the original plans, features such as a parking garage were required for the residents’ needs.76 In addition, the project had also begun opening up to market-rate buyers and renters, a reflection of its prime real estate and the Siza brand, which had in the last decade or so grown to incorporate a Pritzker Prize and other worldly accolades. Carlos Carvalho of the original and present-day residents’ association of Bouça discusses in an interview with Portuguese architect Carlos Castanheira the changes in the community from the first round of construction to the 21st century completion. He explains that first group of residents were “working-class


Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 10.

41 people and they tended to be rather old, without any professional or academic background, and not used to well-designed housing.” The second group tended to be “young, socially integrated people, without economic difficulties. They came because they liked the area, the way the houses were designed, the project itself … and also because it was a good business investment.”77 In Carvalho’s experience with the new residents, he felt that despite no ill feelings between the groups there is no “social relationship … because the [new residents] are not motivated towards community life.” However, he also discussed the positive effect of the “influx of qualified people” in explaining that it raised a “sense of self-esteem [for the original residents]. It facilitates integration and breaks down social prejudices.”78 The purpose of Bouça transformed with the 21st century completion of the project. Manuel Granja, graphic designer, moved into Bouça in 2006 as the newer units were completed. In order to pay for the construction, the Instituto Nacional de Habitação (National Institute of Housing), which footed the bill for the Bouça completion, sold the units at cost to maintain their affordability. He describes the process through which the new units were sold as a sort of private auction, that in a preliminary meeting, an exclusive group of people connected to Siza and the city — mostly architects and artists — were invited to sign up to buy units, and whatever was left went to those put on a waiting list. Granja was on this waiting list and was able to purchase one of the two-bedroom apartments on the upper floors. The units would go fast, and within a matter of days, he had to scramble for the 8,000 euro deposit in order

77 78

Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 21. Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 21.

42 to secure his purchase. “I paid for the apartment at cost — a duplex in the center of Porto with a parking space for 24,500 euros.” Granja discusses that the opportunity attracted two types of people: those seeking an investment by renting out the apartments to students or families, and those who needed a house at a fair price. In his discussion of the condominium board, he said that it was not particularly active in the daily life of residents. Despite that, he explains that it’s difficult not to know people within the complex, as it is designed to facilitate interaction.79 Despite the comfort and brightness of the apartments, Granja admits that these houses are not for everyone. Most of Granja’s complaints have to do with the spatial arrangement of the apartments. His home office is in the front room of his apartment, which has a window out to the walkway; the small window is the only thing separating him from the people moving outside. He finds it difficult to rearrange furniture, specifically in the bedrooms as the doors open from the middle of the wall. Also because of the lack of space, larger furniture compromises one’s ability to navigate through the apartments. The bathrooms, being on the upper levels, make the units unsuitable for elderly and people with disabilities. Granja also argues that the materials in some features of the apartments were not optimal, sacrificing quality for cost. For example, he replaced the original kitchen counter with a granite one because the laminate kitchen countertop that came with the unit experienced scratches and water damage. These shortcomings of the project reflect its unique status, an affordable housing project that transitioned into a private condominium.80 79

Manuel Granja, “Interview with Manuel Granja, resident of Bouça Housing Complex,” interview by Abraham W. Roisman, 27 September 2017. 80 Granja, “Interview with Manuel Granja, resident of Bouça Housing Complex.”

43 The importance of Siza’s role in Bouça is fascinating and unique, as here we have an architect working on the single project under the dictatorship, during the leftist revolutionary era, and finally as a private market project in a society infused with capitalist values. This project spans these eras without significantly changing from the original design, but it allows for an internal organization that fulfills its original fate as low-income housing without the government regulating this identity; it has survived vastly different political, economic, and social systems without sacrificing the integrity of the design.


Figure 4. ​The facilities at Piscina das MarÊs keep a low profile so as to not disrupt the view from the city and the promenade.


Figure 5. ​The pathways to enter and access the facilities snake through the ground like trenches.


Figure 6. ​The entrance to the facilities at Piscina das MarÊs begin with a shallow ramp, one way in and one way out.


Figure 7. ​Once through the lockers, the walls divide the space excavated from the natural rocks along the shore, providing access to the men’s and women’s facilities, a subterranean dugout that does not interrupt the landscape.


Figure 8. ​After proceeding through the facilities, the access to the baths provides a view of the Casa da Chå and snaking paths through the rocks with steps down to the pools.


Figure 9. ​There are several pools of different sizes and depths, each of which is enclosed by natural rocky formations and walls built into the ground. This particular walkway provides access to the beach under a footbridge.


Figure 10. ​The baths provide generous views of the ocean and are separated by narrow footpaths that allow one to navigate the site.


Figure 11. ​The Beires House (Bomb House) provides a dramatically different style than the neighboring homes, its form obviously diverging from traditional forms as seen through this aerial view.81


García, Ángel Melián, "Creating the Place (1): Analogies Between Picasso's Cubist Paintings and Álvaro Siza's Architecture. La Casa Beires, Álvaro Siza; Póvoa do Varzim, Oporto (1973-1976)," 83.


Figure 12. ​The Bomb House courtyard creates a crater-like form, anchored in its corner by a thick column.82


García, Ángel Melián, "Creating the Place (1): Analogies Between Picasso's Cubist Paintings and Álvaro Siza's Architecture. La Casa Beires, Álvaro Siza; Póvoa do Varzim, Oporto (1973-1976)," 83.


Figure 13. ​Plans of the Bomb House demonstrate the setback on the upper level (lower drawing), which emphasizes the crater-like formation of the courtyard.83


García, Ángel Melián, "Creating the Place (1): Analogies Between Picasso's Cubist Paintings and Álvaro Siza's Architecture. La Casa Beires, Álvaro Siza; Póvoa do Varzim, Oporto (1973-1976)," 84.


Figure 14. ​This map shows the distribution of completed SAAL projects in Porto and its immediate suburbs. It is clear from this map that Bouça is quite central while São Victor is on the periphery of the city.84


Serralves Foundation, ​O Processo SAAL: Arquitectura e participação 1974-1976,​ 94.


Figure 15. ​A view of São Victor, this image shows the recreation of the ilha-style row homes.85


Serralves Foundation, ​O Processo SAAL: Arquitectura e participação 1974-1976,​ 98-99.


Figure 16. ​The plans and elevations of São Victor further illustrate the close quarters of the project, that these row homes were carefully planned to maximize the space while giving a nod to the ilhas’ morphology.


Figure 17. ​These early sketches of the Bouça Housing Complex demonstrate Siza’s diagrammatic approach to the site, mimicking the ilha typology so as to recreate the social experience of living in row homes.86

​O’Neil Ford Monograph 1: Bouça​, (Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin Center for American Architecture & Design, 2008), 12. 86


Figure 18. ​These diagrammatic plans of Bouça show a more advanced stage of the project’s layout. These drawings also include the commercial spaces as seen at the top of the plans, on the southwest side of the project.87


​O’Neil Ford Monograph 1: Bouça​, 12.


Figure 19. ​This satellite view shows the completed Bouça project that stands today, along with the parking lot to the northwest of the site. This image illustrates the three courtyards as well as the proximity to Rua da Boavista, a main traffic artery in Porto, to the south and the Lapa light rail station immediately to the north.


Figure 20. ​The easternmost courtyard of Bouça is planted with trees and grass. This courtyard faces the rear of the upper level houses on the eastern side of the site and the front door access to the lower apartments. The trees provide semi-shielded views adding to the privacy of the neighbors opposite one another.


Figure 21. ​The westernmost courtyard is the grassy one, where residents enter the lower apartments and windows facing from the rear of the upper units.


Figure 22. ​The central courtyard features the false stairs and provides front access to the middle two rows of homes on the upper balcony and rear access to the lower homes, the windows opening up to the vestigial steps.


Figure 23. ​On the easternmost edge of the rows there is a narrow lawn and a walkway to the light rail station. A balcony provides entrance to the upper level apartments of this row of houses.


Figure 24. ​A view through the middle rows reveals the steps up to the upper level homes. This line of sight penetrates the entire project, revealing the connection between all of the rows.


Figure 25. ​The false stairs are visible from the northern edge on raised platforms, which overlook the three courtyards.


Figure 26. ​The false stairs, while too steep to use as steps for climbing into the apartments, terminate with long windows, from which residents may water plants and hang laundry, as seen in this photo.


Figure 27. ​The false stairs boast custom railings that root into the ground with a wide-radius curve, which is seen throughout the project’s other railings. At the entrance to the courtyard there is a statue modeled after the false stairs — a nod to Siza — celebrating this feature in a plaque recognizing the Instituto Nacional de Habitação (National Institute of Housing) for its completion of the project.


Figure 28. ​The gardening strips along the balconies, where the upper apartments’ entrances are located, provide opportunity for beautifying the space, framing the courtyards and outermost edges of the site. Some residents have used the gardening strips for growing herbs and vegetables.


Figure 29. ​Another view of the gardening strip on the easternmost edge of the project.


Figure 30. ​The view through the units capture a lot of natural light and views to the courtyards from the ground level, as seen in this lower level apartment. Access to the courtyards also exists in the front and rear of the units.


Figure 31. ​The galley kitchen in the 3-bedroom unit divides the spaces throughout the main level of the apartments, with a view out to the courtyard. The renovation saw an upgrade of the kitchens, with new appliances and countertops.


Figure 32. ​The railing separating the stairs from the upper level reflects the wide radius of the railings in the exterior of the site.


Figure 33. ​Built in wardrobes free up space in the rooms, which are somewhat small.


Figure 34. ​Large windows with built in shutters provide generous views of the courtyard while retaining privacy when necessary. The split shutters allow the bottom half of the window to be obstructed while allowing light into the room through the top half of the window.


Figure 35. ​The entrance to units are recessed by a semi-private vestibule, separated from the walkway with an iron gate, so that residents may open the main door to allow airflow. The door is split like a barn door (as the window shutter in the bedroom).


Figure 36. ​Despite the renovation, the bathrooms are subject to water damage as they are interior spaces, an oversight in the design that several residents have upgraded on their own. Manuel Granja responded to this issue by installing tiles on the bathroom walls from floor to ceiling.88


Granja, “Interview with Manuel Granja, resident of Bouça Housing Complex.”


5. After the SAAL

In 1977, just after the SAAL was dismantled, Siza was selected to design yet another public housing project. Quinta da Malagueira gave Siza a much larger canvas on which to design, as the project incorporated 1200 two- to four-bedroom dwellings. The project is situated outside the old Roman city of Évora. Houses are terraced along sloped cobblestone streets with courtyards behind the street-facing walls. The intention was that the houses could be expanded without affecting the streetscape. In Évora, a 16th century aqueduct serves as one of the most interesting infrastructural feature, as houses and shops were built into the arches that cut through the city. In Quinta da Malagueira, water and electricity services cut through the neighborhood through an abstracted aqueduct, imitating the same effect of Évora’s urban fabric.89 This unique feature is yet


Ellis Woodsman, “Portugal’s Communist Housing Estate by Álvaro Siza,” filmed September 2014, ​The Architectural Review,​ 5:59, posted January 2015,

78 another example of Siza’s respect for place and creating harmony with the atmosphere, as if discovering a new rhyme to the last line in a poem. Siza’s commitment to participating in the construction of post-revolutionary Portugal is deeply rooted in housing for the country’s poorest citizens. He even lived in Quinta da Malagueira through its construction to personally oversee the progress.90 Between the three housing estate projects that I have discussed, it is clear that the same level of thought and care that went into the design of his private homes and other projects continues through to poor clients. He designs a reality for the people in which they are comfortable and seek not to “upgrade” their homes once they reach an economic status that does not require them to live in public housing. The housing is sustainable in so much as the desire to remain in the homes does not yield to social mobility; the housing serves as a permanent solution and not as a temporary quarantine for the poor. Even through a completely changed system, under new policy, Siza lends his poetic style and the lessons learned through his involvement with the SAAL in Quinta da Malagueira. The project was an opportunity for Siza to further explore the living styles of residents from informal housing, translate them into contemporary design with updated services, and at the same time express his understanding of the local built environment. This is essentially what he did in Bouça and continued to do in the years following the revolutionary period at Quinta da Malagueira.


Woodsman, “Portugal’s Communist Housing Estate by Álvaro Siza.”


Figure 37. ​The narrow streets of Évora are lined with the aqueduct, within which homes and shops have been built so as to incorporate the old structure with contemporary uses.


Figure 38. ​Another view of the aqueduct and its use as a structural component for homes and shops.


Figure 39. ​The viaduct containing services cuts through Quinta da Malagueira much like the aqueduct in the neighboring city of Évora.


Figure 40. ​In some points of the viaduct in Quinta da Malagueira, buildings are rooted in the structure, which seems to prop up the homes.


Figure 41. ​In other instances, the viaduct serves as a structure, the infill of which are the homes themselves, as in Évora.


Figure 42. ​The homes are stepped along the slope of the streets that serve as a grid throughout the neighborhood.


Figure 43. ​Siza incorporates Alentejo marble throughout the site, in this instance as an inlay for the cinderblock in the column of the viaduct.


Figure 44. ​Siza continues to use Alentejo marble as benches along the path through the landscaping surrounding the homes.


Figure 45. ​The landscaping around the site is spotted with native trees and plants, a park for the residents to enjoy for community gatherings. The grounds also isolate the development on the side that does not face Évora.


6. Learning from Bouça

Bouça was an economically radical project. In 1974, it could not — should not — have been anything else. Álvaro Siza Vieira91

Through its life, Bouça has been through an optimistic initial development, a construction halt for decades, and a revival that may owe more to Siza’s career than the success of the design itself. To understand the accomplishments and shortcomings of Bouça we may take the lens of today’s affordable housing climate, especially in the United States where large-scale housing projects have fallen out of favor, where mixed-income and mixed-use projects are heralded as innovative, where an integration of public space and public services create a link between society’s poorest citizens and


Castanheira, ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​, 10.

89 the larger populace, and where developers receive praise for creating homes out of quality materials and incorporating smart design. There is much to learn from the SAAL and the evolution of the Bouça Housing Complex. The design of a housing project is largely dictated by who the client is. So, who is the client? In the case of the SAAL projects like Bouça, this remains unclear. While the SAAL prioritized citizen participation and seemingly favored the juntas de freguesia as clients, still the money, materials, and “technical advice” were coming from the ​Fundo de Fomento de Habitação ​(Housing Development Fund — FFH). While the FFH often remained a relatively hands-off organization following the revolution, allowing the brigades to dictate what was needed for the neighborhood, still the general morphology of the SAAL projects was to create a scale and density of homes that was not too dissimilar to that of the ilhas beforehand; there were limitations that contained the SAAL brigades’ ability to dictate every aspect of the projects for concern of budget and as a result of the government’s inability to release more funds than possible for these projects.92 In this light, it is hard to argue that the freguesia was fully capable of dictating the entire design process for economic reasons. Today in the United States, the affordable housing development process is undergoing an identity crisis. There are a number of sources of funding on the federal level, the state level, and to an extent on the local level. Developments are pioneered by the federal government, local authorities, private developers, and nonprofit organizations. There is no single policy for development, yet the funds are often coming


Ascensão, “Interfaces of informality,” 567.

90 from the same sources, a cocktail of different funding structures besides the rent checks commensurate to a percentage of the residents’ income. A brief understanding of these funding structures will help to elucidate the question, “Who is the client?” in the current climate. A large portion of the funds for affordable housing projects in the United States come from the HOME Investment Partnership Program, grants awarded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that come from the federal level and are distributed by states or city governments, depending on the individual states’ policies. The program claims to offer a flexibility that “empowers people and communities to design and implement strategies tailored to their own needs and priorities.” Jurisdictions eligible for HOME grants commit to providing 25 cents per every dollar awarded to projects that are awarded funds from this program. Each jurisdiction is limited in how much funding they receive per year, which is also determined by the amount of money budgeted for HUD.93 While the HOME program resembles the FFH in its oversight of the SAAL funding, the local jurisdictions — whether they are states, municipalities, or defined regions — have more oversight in awarding the funds to particular projects. The application process for this program is a lot more stringent than that of the SAAL, which calls into question the HOME program’s ability to truly engage the needs of a particular community. If all communities are subject to stringent application processes determined by their individual jurisdictions, the developments of those jurisdictions will reflect a homogeneity that prevents the 93

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “HOME Investment Partnerships Program,” rams/home/, accessed 6 September 2017.

91 customized outcome sought by communities. In the case of the SAAL, the emphasis began at the local level throughout the development process rather than at the level of the city government or the FFH itself. Another avenue of affordable housing development funded by HUD is the Choice Neighborhood program. The goal is to “replace distressed public and assisted housing with high-quality mixed-income housing that is well-managed and responsive to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood.” This is accomplished by either demolishing or renovating failing public housing projects — often large-scale high-density buildings that adhered to the modernist values explored in the mid-20th century — from the Title I era that spanned the 1950s and 1960s. The bids for these projects come from private developers — often for-profit companies but also non-profit housing providers — in the form of Transformation Plans once a request for proposals is released by the government. The successful applicant will obtain rights to the land and redevelop the neighborhood according to the plan in the proposal. An interesting requirement of the Choice Neighborhood program is that the residents of the original housing project have the right to return to the new mixed-income, mixed-use neighborhoods, unlike in the HOPE VI program that it replaced in 2010. A certain percentage of these units are designated for affordable housing, and all units need to be designed and constructed with the same quality materials and spaces. In addition, these developments must begin with the developer holding a public panel with future residents of the project in order to

92 discuss their needs and preferences as a means of maintaining their lifestyle and supporting the residents’ abilities to achieve social mobility.94 Ron Bedford of HUD oversees the application process of Choice Neighborhood bids, and he argues that many of the developers that apply for these commissions do not integrate the community panels’ concerns into the initial proposal of their design. Bedford acts as a middleman for these developers between the approval process and the developers so that their applications are not only successful but also accurately consider the needs of the community discussed in these panels. While not all applications go through a process as rigorous as the applications that he reviews, he seeks to introduce design guidelines that would prevent developers from discarding the notes from these meetings as well as ensuring that necessary cuts to development budgets will not sacrifice intelligent design, for example the need for a larger kitchen in units that have more bedrooms, as they are designed for a larger family.95 While this process resembles the SAAL process in the right of return or direito ao lugar, the commitment to replace old housing stock with better quality construction, and the consideration of the residents’ needs, the clear difference is that the Choice Neighborhood program requires the housing stock be replaced with mixed-income developments. Given this, the benefit of a large-scale federal program with government oversight allows for faster development of affordable housing units. Under the HOPE VI program an estimated $22 million was saved through redevelopment of failing housing


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Choice Neighborhoods,” , accessed 6 September 2017. 95 Ron Bedford, “Interview with Ron Bedford, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Program,” interview by Abraham W. Roisman, 7 October 2016.

93 projects; nearly 100,000 units were developed in 260 different communities across the country between the years 1993 and 2010.96 This kind of scale would be impossible with a program like the SAAL, where each project required a level of participation and care that, in order to complete the construction, took much longer than the anticipated three-year cycle. The implementation of a federal program that may yield homogeneous projects such as Choice Neighborhood and HOME serves more residents in less time. Regardless, the United States reflects a much larger population base as residents living in poverty number 43.1 million in 2017, more than four times the entire population of Portugal.97,98 Also, given the current climate for federal funding for housing, particularly in reference to President Donald Trump’s proposed $6.2 billion budget cuts to HUD, many of these programs have uncertain futures and perhaps a focus on the local and hyperlocal level, or even on the nonprofit sector, will have to replace much of the efforts currently underway in providing affordable housing for the vast number of people on waiting lists for assistance.99 San Francisco architect Bob Herman of HCL Architects has designed Choice Neighborhood projects in the past and argues that the implementation of mixed-income neighborhoods is not necessary in diversifying the income level of a community nor is it the only method of preventing the isolation of impoverished citizens. Herman’s firm


U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Choice Neighborhoods 2015 Grantee Report,” 2016. 97 Center for Poverty Research: University of California, Davis, “What is the current poverty rate in the United States?,”, accessed 6 September 2017. 98 The World Bank, “Portugal,”, accessed 6 September 2017. 99 Jose A. DelReal, “Trump budget asks for $6 billion in HUD cuts, drops development grants,” The Washington Post, 16 March 2017.

94 works exclusively with nonprofit developers to create quality affordable housing projects that exist in neighborhoods with higher employment rates and integrating them with commercial spaces that serve as a transitional space between the residential component of the project and the public sphere. Many of these commercial spaces have tenants that provide social services, but in other cases they are occupied by retail. As such, the community can benefit from the services in the spaces and the projects have a form of income beyond the subsidized rent of the residents. These commercial spaces also welcome the community from outside the project, encouraging a mixed-income community without taking away from the units available for low-income residents. Herman also argues that this helps to break the stigma often associated with low-income communities without unsuccessfully marketing apartment units in a mixed-income development to potential residents seeking market-rate apartments.100 Herman’s philosophy closely resembles the program at Bouça, in which all units (in the initial development) were intended for affordable housing and commercial space was integrated into the design. In this case, Herman’s commitment to the nonprofit entity that develops the housing integrates a process much more similar to the predevelopment SAAL meetings. Additionally, his insistence on integrating commercial space in these developments creates the opportunity for a small number of jobs available to the community. This process, though often without the support of federal or local funds, creates a scenario in which the nonprofit entity is the central client, but with


Bob Herman, “Interview with Bob Herman of HCL Architecture,” interview by Abraham W. Roisman, 7 October 2016.

95 a level of direct participation of the residents that is safeguarded by Herman’s firm’s commitment to community needs. To rely on nonprofit developers and socially-minded architects like Bob Herman does not safeguard the provision of housing for impoverished citizens. Cities like Philadelphia have proposed legislation that would mandate affordable units for every residential project over a certain size, in this case 10 percent of units per every building over nine units in size. “Inclusionary housing bonuses” would allow the developers to essentially break the zoning codes for certain aspects of their projects, such as the height of a building. Such practices have already been implemented in cities like New York and San Francisco, cities where “stratospheric prices have made it difficult for low-wage workers to find housing.”101 Marianne Scott of the Building Industry Association (BIA) in Philadelphia argues that this will reduce incentive for developers to build larger than nine units as well as would alienate poor Philadelphians within these buildings. Her organization has released a statement that opposes the legislation, arguing that the problem in Philadelphia is not affordability, as it remains one of the most affordable big cities for housing in the United States. Rather her organization advocates for job creation in order to alleviate the troubling poverty rate. In addition they support the idea of emphasizing “workforce housing,” a term that encompasses residential development for those just above the poverty rate, so that there is an incentive for social


Inga Saffron, “Philadelphia Council bill would mandate affordable units in every development,” Philadelphia Inquirer​, 22 June 2017.

96 mobility that allows for residents of affordable housing to have accessible options once they no longer qualify for this social benefit.102 However, according to Pew Charitable Trusts’ “Philadelphia 2017: The State of the City,” it is important to factor in the high poverty rate with regards to current affordability for homes. While the city of Philadelphia is growing in population, its poverty rate is hardly changing. The city had a poverty rate of 25.8 percent in 2015, the highest poverty rate of the 10 largest cities in the country. In addition, the deep poverty rate was 12.2 percent in that year, which has not changed since 2012. With regards to housing affordability, over 56 percent of Philadelphians pay at least 30 percent of their income on rent, among the highest in large metropolitan areas in the country, second only to Detroit.103 A major nonprofit housing provider of the city, Project HOME reported that Philadelphia faces a massive homelessness problem, as over 500,000 residents were without homes on a single night in January 2016, 32 percent of which were not sheltered and 22 percent were children under the age of 18.104 According to Affordable Housing Online, a tool for low-income residents to find affordable housing in their municipality or neighboring cities, the waiting list for the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher program has been closed since March 2010, with over 54,000 applications on the list; this would take an estimated 21 years to address


Marianne Scott, “Interview with Marianne Scott of the Building Industry of America, Philadelphia,” interview by Abraham W. Roisman, 24 July 2017. 103 Philadelphia Research Initiative, “Philadelphia 2017: The State of the City,” ​The Pew Charitable Trusts,​ 6 April 2017. 104 Project HOME, “Facts on Homelessness,”, accessed 7 September 2017.

97 with the resources available to the program and the amount of housing stock available in the city.105 When considering the high poverty rate in Philadelphia, Scott and the BIA make a valid argument for job creation to encourage social mobility. However, the question of workforce housing excludes those on waiting lists, living in deep poverty, and living on the streets from easily accessing homes available on the market without some assistance. As I mentioned earlier, more than half of Philadelphians are paying too much in rent. This reality begs to question the viability of a workforce housing argument on its own. The scenario in which individuals can find employment without a suitable living space or within healthy living conditions seems unlikely. In fact, it seems that a two-pronged approach — one of creating jobs and providing housing — would be of importance to combat these concerns; a program like the SAAL that creates construction jobs that instill a sense of ownership in future residents and the integration of commercial space and social services into new housing as in Bob Herman’s interventions are examples where both joblessness and housing are approached within a single project. Yet construction jobs for the housing project itself only provides temporary employment and brings with it a charged political aspect that may denigrate the psyche of the residents of affordable housing projects, mainly black families who carry a history of being exploited.106 With regard to Bob Herman’s approach, while not many jobs are provided through the development of commercial spaces, spaces for

David Layfield, “Philadelphia Housing Authority,” ​Affordable Housing Online​, PA002, accessed 7 September 2017. 106 University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, “Poverty in the U.S.,”, accessed 14 September 2017. 105

98 social services within the project itself would enable residents to enjoy access to job placement centers, counseling, daycares, and other forms of assistance that will provide greater access to social mobility. In the United States, the Habitat for Humanity program resembles the SAAL most closely with its “sweat equity” requirement. Sweat equity is measured in the hours that future residents of homes contribute to Habitat, whether it be through participating in workshops to understand homeownership or constructing homes built through the Habitat programs. Once they have met the requirement of hours and other criteria — which includes a need for affordable housing due to low income — they are eligible for the homeownership or home repair programs. Residents may even meet their sweat equity through construction on their own homes, much like auto-construção in the SAAL program. This model, like the SAAL, puts the resident in the forefront as the client.107 While design and development may be in the hands of Habitat, the focus on residents’ needs and the requirement of sweat equity contributes to a program that connects the residents to their future homes from the start through a process of citizen engagement. The intent of a project like Bouça and a program like the SAAL provides ample material for learning about successful design and progressive economic policy in affordable housing. The direct participation of residents demonstrates a sense of community and a commitment to social mobility, regarding the residents’ needs as a prerequisite for providing a permanent housing solution. On the other side of the same


Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia, “About Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia,”, accessed 6 October 2017.

99 coin, the lack of direct oversight by the federal government shows the system’s commitment to a grassroots political structure in which the authorities understand that the local and even hyperlocal community knows its needs best. The design of affordable housing is especially integrated with the residents who will come to occupy these homes. As seen through the process at Bouça, successful affordable housing espouses all of these characteristics that place the resident at the center of focus. Starting with the idea of direito ao lugar, preventing displacement, and then with the design and construction collaboration between experts and residents, the client remains the resident throughout the entire process. When these contemporary systems mimic or learn from this process, we see a situation in which permanent solutions to housing of the poor become accessible. To rid a family of the housing problem, by working with them in having a home, this process becomes a key step in eradicating poverty.


Figure 46. ​The SAAL operations keep the residents of the project central throughout the entire development process.


Figure 47. ​The government remains the central actor throughout the process of applying for and implementing HOME Funds.


Figure 48. ​The Choice Neighborhood Program, though informed by residents for the design of projects, is primarily carried out by the private sector.


Figure 49. ​The process through which HCL Architects designs affordable housing prioritizes the mission of the nonprofit developer that pioneers the project.


Figure 50.​ The Habitat for Humanity model most closely adheres to the SAAL model that led to projects like Bouça, yet the mission of Habitat shares an equally central role in the development process as the residents in the program.

105 Works Cited Ascensão, Eduardo. "Interfaces of informality." ​City​, 20:4 (2016), 563-580. Bedford, Ron. "Interview with Ron Bedford of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Choice Neighborhood Program." Interview by Abraham W. Roisman. 7 October 2016. Besteira, Rita Tavares de Almeida. ​Avenida da Ponte 1968/2000: Álvaro Siza, Arquitectura e Cidade​. Dissertation, Faculty of Architecture University of Porto, September 2012. Castanheira, Carlos. ​Álvaro Siza: The Function of Beauty​. London: Phaidon Press, 2009. Center for Poverty Research: University of California, Davis. “What is the current poverty rate in the United States?” what-current-poverty-rate-united-states. Accessed 6 September 2017. Chilcote, Ronald H. ​The Portuguese Revolution: State and Class in the Transition to Democracy.​ Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010. Clementino, Luísa Lopes Ribeiro Ramos. ​De "O Problema da Casa Portuguesa" ao "Da Organização do Espaço".​ Dissertation, University of Coimbra Faculty of Sciences and Technology, July 2013. Cohen, Jean-Louis. "Una arquitectura sin mayúsculas; Architecture without capital letters." ​AV monografías,​ 186-187 (2016), 4-11. Costa, Alexandre Alves. ​Álvaro Siza: Casa de Chá da Boa Nova​. Porto, Portugal: AMAG Books, 2016.

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107 Layfield, David. “Philadelphia Housing Authority.” ​Affordable Housing Online. hia-Housing-Authority/PA002. Accessed 7 September 2017. Maxwell, Kenneth. ​The Making of Portuguese Democracy.​ Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Marques Pereira, Sandra. “Interview with Professor Sandra Marques Pereira of the Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa, University Institute of Lisbon.” Interview by Abraham W. Roisman. 14 September 2017. McCance, Dawne. "An Interview with Álvaro Siza." ​Mosaic,​ 50:1 (March 2017), 115-128. Metro do Porto. “History.” Accessed 8 September 2017. Moniz, Gonçalo Canto, Luís Miguel Correia, and Adelino Gonçalves. "Fernando Távora, Oporto's Urban Renewal: A Changing Moment in Urban Rehabilitation Policy Debate." ​Journal of Urban History,​ 2017, 1-21. O’Neil Ford Monograph 1: Bouça​. Austin, TX: The University of Texas at Austin Center for American Architecture & Design, 2008. Philadelphia Research Initiative. "Philadelphia 2017: The State of the City." ​The Pew Charitable Trusts.​ 6 April 2017. Project HOME. “Facts on Homelessness.” facts-homelessness. Accessed 7 September 2017. Ramos Pinto, Pedro. ​Lisbon Rising: Urban Social Movements in the Portuguese Revolution, 1974-75. M ​ anchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2013.

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Revolutionary Housing: Citizen Engagement and Lessons from the Bouça Cooperative  

Master's Thesis for the MS in Architecture Program at PennDesign, December 2017

Revolutionary Housing: Citizen Engagement and Lessons from the Bouça Cooperative  

Master's Thesis for the MS in Architecture Program at PennDesign, December 2017