Why Lisbon Is Europe's Most Underrated City

Tue 24 May 2016

ARCO Lisboa wrapped up on May 29 and with this famous International Contemporary Art Fair coming to Lisbon for the first time there is an artsy buzz in the city and a sense that many Lisboetas have been waiting for this. Conde Nast just published the article, Why Lisbon Is Europe's Most Underrated City, which focuses on the burgeoning creativity in Portugal's capital city, whether among artists, designers, or architects.

"As a new generation of architects and designers take charge, Portugal’s ancient capital is emerging from a long deep freeze.", Julia Cooke writes.

In Tamea International's line of business this is certainly great news as investors compete to buy the very best new developments and apartments for sale in Lisbon. Renovation projects by exceptionally talented and often young architects who bring contemporary innovation to historic buildings are a great draw for buyers. "New buildings nod to old."


"The 2008 global economic crisis left Portugal’s unemployment rate among college graduates at nearly 40 percent—a potentially devastating blow for Lisbon’s burgeoning art and architecture scenes, and for a city then being touted as Europe’s next design hub. But initiatives launched in the wake of the crisis and aimed at retaining and empowering local talent have begun to bear fruit. Once-stalled building projects and renovations are nearing completion. Local firms are subverting expectations with inventive, energetic results. Lisbon real estate boom may have turned out differently than expected, but it’s a boom nonetheless."

“We are interested in breaking with the visual cliché of traditional Portuguese architecture,” Diogo Lopes told me in 2014. Warm and thoughtful, the Lisbon-born architect was a partner at Barbas Lopes Arquitectos, one of two firms behind the restoration of Teatro Thalia. He was appointed chief curator of this year’s Lisbon Architecture Triennale before his recent death, at age 43, from cancer. “Portuguese architecture can be described cartoonishly as ‘white architecture,’ deliberately plain, relying on craftsmanship and heavy materials,” Lopes said. He credited the persistence of these traits to their inherent quality, utility, and ease of use. Lopes’s prescription for innovation, therefore, was to combine historic references with material experimentation, unorthodox thinking, persistence, and pragmatism. He had no interest in just changing the facades of otherwise traditional structures. “We’ve had to reclaim the right and the need to build this city, to intervene in the city on all its scales, not just with lightweight interventions,” he said. And Lopes was not alone. For the last decade, a loose collective of local architects, along with a few foreigners, has been pushing the ancient city into the future."

This well-researched article is very interesting not only for art readers but also for potential residents and investors in Lisbon real estate as it discusses some of the recent architectural projects, the areas where development has been focused and explains the city's new creative energy which contributes to the quality of life.

"That all this is happening just a few years after the economic crisis is perhaps surprising—and much of the architectural energy rippling through Lisbon today can be credited to a remarkably progressive and design-savvy city council. Architect Manuel Salgado, who along with Vittorio Gregotti conceived the Belém Cultural Center, one of Portugal’s prized institutions, has served as deputy mayor and head of urban planning for about nine years. Under his leadership, the city has introduced tax breaks for building renovations, sponsored community-oriented design projects, and offered leasing grants for small businesses. These and other policies were intended in part to keep unemployed young architects and designers from fleeing for Brazil, northern Europe, or Dubai in search of jobs—and indeed, even as the bigger firms downsized, younger firms took the bait and stayed in town."


Lisbon residents often have chosen to live in the city for a better quality of life and a certain lifestyle, yet with time take some of these things for granted some and it is often the awe of visitors that is a reminder of what a truly special city it is.


Read the full article here.

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