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Pedro Costa

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1This 33rd issue of CIDADES, Comunidades e Territórios includes a thematic dossier entitled “Optimistic Suburbia – Large housing complexes for the middle-class”, organized by Ana Vaz Milheiro, Rogério Vieira de Almeida and Filipa Fiúza. This special section is the result of an open call which was made in the sequence of the international conference held on this theme at ISCTE-IUL on May 2015, articulated with a research project carried out by DINÂMIA’CET-IUL on these topics (“Homes for the biggest number: Lisbon, Luanda, Macau”). The introductory article of this section, delivered by its editors, presents the framework and the main guidelines of this special dossier, conveyed in the open call made to external researchers in the sequence of that conference. This editorial illustrates quite well the purposes and the scope of this work, as well as the relation between all the six articles included in the dossier, making any additional explanation in this introductory text redundant.

2This dossier encompasses six articles. Three of them are from researchers that are working on similar topics in other points of Europe, exploring large-scale housing complexes devoted to the middle-class both through specific case studies or more biographic perspectives. The first article, by Gaia Caramellino and Cristina Renzoni, explores the relation of these complexes with public spaces and collective infrastructures, based on Turin, Italy (“Negotiating the Post-war Italian City. Shaping Public Spaces and Facilities through Housing Complexes for the Middle-class: 1950s-1970s”). The second and third ones offer us different viewpoints from the city of Antwerp, in Belgium: the more biographical perspective of Tom Broes and Michiel Dehaene (in “Real Estate Pioneers on the Metropolitan Frontier. The works of Jean-Florian Collin and François Amelinckx in Antwerp”) and the two post-war case studies presented by Els De Vos (in her article “Modernist High-Rises in Post-war Antwerp. Two Answers to the same Question”).

3The other three articles bring a complementary perspective to this discussion departing from different primary sources and analytical methodologies, such as the media and the arts. Rui Seco da Costa (in “Antes do recomeço: periódicos especializados e debate sobre a cidade”) discusses the Portuguese architectural and urban planning debates in the post revolution period from the viewpoint of the analysis of specialized journals. Leonor Matos Silva (in “Recording the optimistic. An audio-visual approach to the city of Lisbon by its architecture school in the 1980s”) analyses three videos that reproduce pedagogical experiments that took place at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts approximately in the same period. Finally, Margarida Brito Alves (in “Casas em série, construções temporárias e lotes vazios. Subúrbios e arte contemporânea”), drawing upon several artists’ work and some of the conceptual disputes through which art has been expanding architectural debates, discusses some of the multiple ways contemporary art has been addressing urban growth and suburbia.

4In parallel to this thematic dossier, four other articles compose the permanently-open articles section of this journal in this 33rd issue.

5Magdalena Chiara’s article, “Territoriality and Health Policy: Contributions to Research and Action” drives us to the complexity of the relations between health policy and territory. This work aims to investigate the contribution that a territorial approach can bring to the research and to the practice of managers in primary health care, clarifying the conditioning relationship that exists between those two domains. The conceptual approach followed by the author proposes two standpoints from which policies can be analysed: on the one hand the concept of care as a stage in a correlation involving differing notions of territory, and on the other hand, the recognition that each moment of implementation in the territory involves a local process of institutional recreation encompassing the negotiation of different regulatory logics.

6Daniela Carvalho Ferreira, in “A evolução dos centros comerciais na Área Metropolitana de Lisboa: o aparecimento de formatos em declínio” drives us through the evolution of shopping malls in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in the last decades, in order to understand their position in the retail life cycle. The author identifies different types of shopping malls from the analysis of 157 spaces in Lisbon metropolis, assuming that some endure and consolidate their market position, while others enter in a decline phase, including a significant share of ‘dead’ shopping malls.

7Anabela Carvalho, in “Discursos hegemónicos sobre a cidade: “desenvolvimento” e “crescimento verde” em Braga”, analyzes political communication and advertising in order to deconstruct the discourse about the city of Braga, Portugal. The author shows how certain discourses become hegemonic, shaping the meaning of the city and the identity of subjects. Key nodal points such as “development” and “green growth” are thought to have fixed the meaning of social relations in Braga in different historic moments. The author argues that “nature” and “green” emerged in a variety of discursive contexts to support both the city council’s project as well as business interests. As these signifiers became increasingly eroded, they turned into empty signifiers allowing all sorts of discursive uses in constructing and reinforcing the hegemonic position of local stakeholders. Simultaneously, the author argues that the subject positions and identities of citizens were also reconstructed through those discourses.

8Finally Walter Fernando Brites and Maria Rosa Catullo article, entiled “Represas y transformación socio-urbana. Un análisis comparativo de los proyectos hidroeléctricos de Salto Grande y Yacyretá”, leads us again to South America, to the processes of relocation generated by the construction of the hydroelectric dams of Salto Grande (Argentina-Uruguay) and Yacyretá (Paraguay-Argentina), and examining the changes generated on the cities of Nueva Federación and Posadas (Argentina) and Encarnación (Paraguay). The authors intend to demonstrate that within the multidimensional effects caused by hydroelectric projects that affect cities, the problem of socio-spatial segregation, derived from the resettlement, emerges as crucial. Assuming a much bigger magnitude than before, the displacement brings cumulative effects to those living on the margins of the city, structurally affecting the conditions and the ways of life of those who were forced to live in an urban periphery.

9Wrapping up this 33rd issue of CIDADES, Comunidades e Territórios, two book reviews are provided. First, Maria Assunção Gato introduces us Ricardo Carvalho’s book A Cidade Social – Impasse. Desenvolvimento. Fragmento (Tinta-da-china, 2016). This work, resulting from a synthesis developed by the author from his PhD dissertation in Architecture, is, according to the reviewer, a reference not just for this area but also for all those working on the issues of housing and on the complex relationship between society and urban production of space. Departing from the concept of “Social City”, the author draws attention to important dimensions of housing that sometimes seem to go unnoticed by contemporary architecture and urban planning theory.

10Secondly, Ricardo Lopes offers us a critical review of Thomas Hutton’s new book, Cities and the Cultural Economy (Routledge, 2015). The educational-oriented and introductory character of this handbook (ambitioning to provide a general overview of the relations between culture, economy and the city, in line, for instance, with the seminal work of Allan Scott in this field) is stressed by the reviewer, which points out the positive aspects as well as some downsides of this “new” panoramic systematization of the recent contributions to the relation between cultural activities and cities’ development.

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Electronic reference

Pedro Costa, « Editorial »Cidades [Online], 33 | 2016, Online since 02 March 2017, connection on 29 March 2020. URL:

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Pedro Costa

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