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Maria Assunção Gato e Ana Rita Cruz

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1We are living historic and worrying moments. The first half of 2020 has been marked by a global pandemic, still with no end in sight. There is a great anxiety for a vaccine that can rescue humanity from Covid-19 and restore the lost «normality». Until then, societies are managing daily fear and improvising epidemic contention measures at the pace of health and economic figures, with social inequalities also becoming more and more obvious in this equation.

2The theme of the dossier for this issue was defined well before the eruption of this pandemic crisis, but it could not be more appropriate to emphasise certain values of civility, as well as the central role of care, caregivers and domestic workers. The dossier “Working without borders: perspectives on domestic services and care”, organized by Nuno Dias, Inês Brasão and Manuel Abrantes as guest editors, provides an excellent opportunity to stimulate the debate on the contexts of poverty, insecurity and precariousness of so many workers in this field worldwide. It is also an occasion to highlight the contradiction between the ongoing social devaluation of these types of jobs and their growing relevance in contemporary societies, especially in critical times like the ones we are living. The dossier comprises seven articles that capture realities experienced in different parts of the world. This broad set of articles represents a fundamental contribution to the perception of the inequalities that structure domestic work and the care sector, as well as the power relations that underlie them. The intersections made between domestic services and care work along with the inequalities of gender, nationality and race further reinforce the analytical-scientific value of this dossier, rendering its reading absolutely relevant.

3Beyond the thematic dossier, five other articles on a wide range of topics, three essays and two book reviews compose the issue. The first article, “Urban SUNstainability: a multi-dimensional policy evaluation framework proposal”, authored by Eduardo Medeiros, proposes the innovative concept of urban SUNstainability aimed at more sustainable urban policies, both in environmental and economic terms. The production and use of solar energy in urban areas is presented as an appropriate strategy to implement a greener and sustainable territorial development process. To complete the argument, the article also presents a multi-dimensional policy evaluation framework to assess the SUNstainability capacity in urban areas.

4The following article, “Relevância do VANT no Processo de Representação e Produção de Arquitetura”, authored by João Antunes, Sara Eloy and Pedro Pinto, is also innovative in proposing to explore the technological potential of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for architecture production and representation. Framing the application and main advantages of UAVs in architecture, the article illustrates how the use of these technologies not only provides architects with new possibilities for action and professional autonomy, but also expands their technical capacities and perception about the territorial scenarios in which they intervene.

5Still in the field of architecture, but focusing on landscape planning issues, the third article, entitled “Espaços ajardinados do lado norte da Avenida dos Estados Unidos da América. Traços conceptuais na definição de um corredor verde no Bairro de Alvalade (1940-1960)”, explores the equally innovative nature of the interdisciplinary articulation between architects and the first generation of landscape architects within the charismatic project of the Alvalade neighbourhood, in Lisbon. Authored by Jorge da Rosa Neves and Paulo Tormenta Pinto, this article presents the conceptual features that allowed the implementation of a Green Corridor in the Alvalade neighbourhood in the 1940-1960s. Contextualized with both the Charter of Athens and the Modern Movement, this green corridor played a pioneering role in the city of Lisbon, emphasizing not only the public space, but also an ecological and artistic matrix, open to interdisciplinary dialectics in architecture.

6In the fourth article, “A política urbana no Brasil e em Portugal: contexto e evolução histórica”, Eglaísa Pontes Cunha, Rui Pedro Julião and Francisco Henrique Oliveira analyse the process of the historical evolution of urban policy in Brazil and Portugal, highlighting the main political and regulatory references in urban planning. By reviewing the evolution of these policies in both countries, the authors underline not only the main differences in each case, but also many of the weaknesses that contextualize urban policies, both in terms of implementation and articulation with other sectorial policies.

7Finally, the article “O papel das instituições subnacionais na aderência da agenda de integração hídrica: lições da governança hídrica metropolitana de Curitiba” takes us to Brazil for an analysis about water governance in the Metropolitan Region of Curitiba. Authored by Simone Cassilha, Tatiana Gadda, Niklas Weins and Augusto Schmidt, this article also explores sustainability issues related to one of the most precious natural resources for life on planet Earth, water. As a good part of the environmental problems in Brazilian cities result from uncontrolled urban expansion processes, the management of water resources gains even more relevance, both in terms of the necessary articulation of policies at different territorial scales, and in terms of the management of use and quality preservation. Hence, the authors identify several challenges posed by this Brazilian context, which are crucial to rethink water management policies and urban sustainability on a more global scale.

8The following section includes three essays that, while distinct, share the urban topic. The first essay, “Fendas numa cidade dividida: Habitação popular na cidade de São Paulo”, authored by Luis Octavio de Faria e Silva, portrays an evolutionary process on São Paulo's low-income neighbourhoods, highlighting the precarious housing situations to which numerous groups of people have been subjected. The favelas (slums) constitute the best-known model of self-construction, and their expansion keeps increasing without many solutions in sight, despite some interventions to improve their residents’ quality of living.

9The second essay, “Retalhos de uma cidade confinada em 2020: entre realidade e utopia” is authored by six PhD students in Architecture of Contemporary Metropolitan Territories (Laura Sobral, Marta Vicente, Rui Mendes, Sara Jacinto, Susana Rego and Ylia Barssi), and is the outcome of a collective reflection on the city of Lisbon in a context of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The text frames new perspectives on spaces, experiences and perceptions motivated by the confinement, but also expresses concerns about the attempt to manage the daily uncertainties caused by this situation.

10The third essay takes up the pandemic theme to reinforce the issue of inequalities in dealing with it – social, residential, economic, spatial, moral, symbolic, etc. In “Da ficção cinematográfica à realidade pandémica: um ensaio sobre parasitas, vírus e outras maleitas”, Ana Elísia da Costa draws inspiration from Bong Joon Ho's film Parasite to develop a challenging reflection on this globally shared health crisis. Between fictional and real scenarios, the author raises social issues that, although not recent, seem to have gained particular prominence during this period. Our attention is caught, and in the end, we get the feeling that we are all sharing the same «scary movie».

11In the book review section, Hugo Pinto offers a critical review of Social Innovation and Sustainable Consumption: Research and Action for Societal Transformation (London, Routledge, 2019) edited by Julia Backhaus, Audley Genus, Sylvia Lorek, Edina Vadovics and Julia M Wittmayer. According to Hugo Pinto, this book presents and analyses policies, strategies and processes for societal transformation and fundamental changes to meet the challenge of sustainability. A transformation is expected in the field of sustainability and its effects will radically change the existing institutional structure. In this respect, the focus is placed mainly on social innovation and its capacity to become an important agenda for change. Nevertheless, the support of public policies and research to feed robust scientific knowledge into decision-making processes will be essential to develop social innovation as a practice. These are some of the main ideas outlined by this book review which, on a whole, provides an excellent contribution to the research agenda for social innovation.

12Finally, Tiago Vinagre de Castro brings us A Research Agenda for Creative Tourism (United Kingdom, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019) edited by Nancy Duxbury and Greg Richards. As stated in the title, this book is an agenda for research into a recent type of tourism, which is presented as an extension of cultural tourism, but in contrast to mass tourism. Creative tourism is a niche product and is intrinsically linked to travellers seeking more active and participatory cultural experiences in which they can explore and develop their creativity, as well as alternative approaches to the development of tourism, in a small-scale, more sustainable and closer visitor-host approach. In addition to the innovative character of the creative tourism concept and its intrinsic connection with the issues of sustainability, the book presents a wide selection of international case studies that reveal not only the different approaches to creative tourism, but also its enormous potential in terms of promotion and cultural and economic dynamism in more peripheral territories.

13Closing this editorial, a quick final note about the cover image chosen by the invited editors of the thematic dossier. Taken from a free image bank, the photograph is authored by Jaime Moag and is entitled “Assorted Kitchen ware and tools” (s.d.). The image depicts the great paraphernalia of common use objects that can exist in a kitchen, in any part of the world. The objects evoke absent users, domestic workers, essential caregivers who are often also treated as objects for domestic use.

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Maria Assunção Gato e Ana Rita Cruz, « Editorial »Cidades [Online], 40 | 2020, posto online no dia 26 junho 2020, consultado o 30 novembro 2020. URL:

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Maria Assunção Gato

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