Largo Residencias is a project with a unique economic model and innovative community activation practices. It is one of the many adaptive heritage reuse projects that have been explored by our team for the OpenHeritage research project. Focusing on artistic activities and collaboration, Largo Residencias gives a new social and cultural experience to the community. The cooperative, artists, and community work together for sustainable development of Largo Residencias, which is the binding agent of all parties. Let us explore Largo Residencias on another level of detail, through the eyes of the two main observes of this project. Urbanist Levente Polyak and Filmmaker Yilmaz Vurucu share their experience and walk us in and around Largo Residencas and Intendente square.
” So it’s one of our key cases for responsible tourism, something we would like to explore soon. And that Largo is a prototype for a community-driven safety net + an engine of the discussion for a whole neighborhood…”
Largo Residencias is located in the middle of the square. The square has a metal fencing surrounding it that does not seem necessary and only hides the bushes and flowers in the middle. It gives mixed signals that it is not open and accessible to all, yet claims to be. And it is this very philosophy that Largo seems to be fighting.
The building’s character and elegance emanate from its renewal and history. Its façade made up of ceramic tiles boasts about its original function as a ceramic factory and gives it prominence among the many buildings on the square. It speaks of its strength and presence, regardless of what is happening around it. It would tell you that it maintains a steadfast resolution to remain there. It would even do some self-reflection and trace back the beginning of this change to its very own existence: it had good intentions nevertheless and wishes to be judged accordingly.
The activities of the square depict an accurate image of the changes both Intendente and Lisbon are undergoing. Intendent’s recent changes come as a combination of local and global processes liberalization of the housing market and the quick touristification of Central Lisbon. The entire neighborhood has been transformed from a rundown segregated area to a new locality, with a luxury hotel, expensive eateries, and ongoing new constructions. The diverse traffic of people from all walks of life is seen passing through this sterile and gentrified neighborhood.
Walking only 50 meters away from the new chic identity of the square, you will find yourself in different colors of the square, the original Intendente. With a club under an apartment complex, ready to welcome citizens at all times, who find seats of curbs and corners, waiting for the party to begin.
Inside the café on the ground floor, the vibe is relaxed and laid back. The cafe is run by an older lady with wrinkles on her face that seem to tell a rough, rugged story of having been through her fair share of hardships and back. Across the door that leads to the reception office of Largo Residencias, is the bike repair shop, taken care of by a U.S citizen. Upon inquiry about his thoughts and experience of Lisbon and Intendente, he told that he enjoys the relaxed, laid back attitude here, and has no intention of going back to Missouri.
” Ray of sun streak through windows overlooking a square, inside the rooms of Largo Residencias: a once decrepit building transformed into an artist in residency and hostel, with a cafe and bike shop on the ground floor.”
Largo project speaks about the optimism and connectedness of the conveyors to their surroundings. They seem to be friends with most regulars, coming from all kinds of social and economic backgrounds. Their shared experience of arranging events and festivals connects them and the communities they reach, including the minorities in the neighboring districts and areas.
Largo Residencias has become the heart of the community, connecting every individual back to this shared artistic space and experience. Lisbon as a whole seems to be at the crossroads between redevelopment and the old: with change and construction taking place in every district. And Largo itself seems to tell the story of Lisbon: a battle between change and accessibility, capital and opportunity.
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Eutropian is proud partner of the Open Heritage project, which identifies and tests the best practices of adaptive heritage re-use in Europe. We lead the research on case studies and produced documentary films on select sites.