Database of Lisbon projects & initiatives

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The Lisbon UrbanA partner FC.ID is choosing to ground the UrbanA project in the city of Lisbon and to develop a local Community of Practice (CoP) for the duration of the project. The objectives are to identify and connect “city makers”, to better understand how to create sustainable and just cities, and to explore how best can the needs of local Lisbon communities can be supported by the UrbanA Lisbon CoP. Work developed in a series of stages.

Projects & initiatives

UrbanA Lisbon Community of Practice

Stage 1: Local Arena in Mouraria

The first section of this process culminated with the first Lisbon “local arena” on November 12th 2019. The event happened in one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, which is also considered the most multi-cultural neighbourhood in the country, Mouraria[1].

A central question to UrbanA´s implementation in Lisbon was “How might an urban CoP help manifest the dream of a Sustainable and Just Lisbon?” (PDF presentation available here). The day was divided into two parts, a walking tour during the morning around the streets including Rua Dos Lagares, considered to be the epicentre of current evictions, followed by an afternoon at Mouraria Creative Hub, with more than 30 representatives from 24 different groups, or projects, active in the city. A Graphic register captured insights from the day and noted 5 main conclusions:

  1. Many solutions exist, but complex problems persist
  2. Tailor solutions to reality and local participation
  3. Need for articulation to better connect people and projects
  4. Continuity and cross-pollination is essential.
  5. Inform about citizen intervention starting points

The groups who participated included:

Stage 2: Focusing on Marvila

From the start of 2020, the Lisbon CoP changed its focus from Mouraria, to Marvila. After starting out with high momentum, things were cut short by the arrival of COVID. 2020 was also the year that Lisbon was selected as Europe's "Green Capital" by the EGCA body[2] [3].

UrbanA Lisbon shifted its focus to Marvila to identify how best can the needs of the local communities be supported by the UrbanA CoP and the project´s tools. Initial meetings happened with Jessica Verheij and Margarida Reis E Silva from ROCK and Luís Matos of Rés do Chão (Ground Floor). This led to a book chapter for "Urban Hub 20 - Accelerating City Change in a VUCA World" (VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)[4], with UrbanA fellow and Integral Cities founder Marilyn Hamilton. (UrbanA's May podcast with Marilyn is available on Spotify and the UrbanA website)

Marvila is, a rapidly transforming riverside neighbourhood on the Eastern side of Lisbon. This port industry and working class area was forgotten about for many decades and housed one of Lisbon’s largest shanty towns, the Chinese Neighbourhood. This was replaced in the late 1990’s by fragmented modern housing blocks of high rise towers, amidst large, empty, unused spaces. The latest urban transformation sees rent and land prices rise rapidly, established communities being forced to leave and even evictions happening. Marvila is beaming with transformation potential. Many research and social innovation groups are already active here, working with the local government and communities to increase citizen collaboration in planning processes and to explore issues of equality and urban sustainability.

The main UrbanA CoP adapted to COVID as best it could, UrbanA Community Conversations (CoCos) began from April 2020. Some of the Lisbon groups participated in these online only events. Lisbon was chosen for the first "City Series" CoCo on May 26th, which explored “Is Lisbon a Sustainable and Just City? Perspectives from Europe´s 2020 Green Capital”[5]. The event was facilitated by Constança Belchior from the UrbanA Portugal team and included perspectives from UrbanA Fellow Rafael Calado of Fablab Lisboa, Luís Matos of Rés do Chão and Patrícia Robalo of Morar em Lisboa and Lisbon’s Housing Movement about a range of issues including urban greening[6], evictions[7], gentrification[8], civic engagement and local community solutions in this fast-changing city[9].

Luís Matos outlined dynamics behind the Community-led initiative (CLI) proposal Transformar Marvila com Jardim e Ciclovias (Transforming Marvila with parks and bikeways). Four local neighbourhoods combined to form 4Crescente. They rejected a proposed plan for housing blocks, arguing instead for parks and play areas they were long promised. They fought and won. The council committed to the proposal and launched an urban design project to qualify 144.000m2 of public vacant land into a city-scale public park [10] [11]. Luis argues this bold, ambitious project is a CLI because:

  1. The initial idea came from the tenants of this public housing neighbourhood
  2. Using the resources available (and backed by the local community group) the tenants made clear their will
  3. Efforts were made to make every decision making step as participative as possible
  4. A community representative is part of the jury to select the final project

Stage 3: Looking deeper at some Lisbon initiatives

In 2021, UrbanA Lisbon CoP seeks to develop a deeper relationship with a selection of CLIs it has begun to develop a relationship with. These are geographically based communities, which have been supported by projects / groups who have been participating or following the wider UrbanA process so far. These are at Bela Flor, Ajuda, Marvila, or BAM for short.

Main UrbanA approaches investigated

Graphic register from 1st UrbanA Portugal "Local Arena"

Further Reading

Images, Videos, Podcasts and Social Media


  1. Lonely Planet: Mouraria: The Multicultural District. Available at:
  2. European Commission: Lisbon is the 2020 European Green Capital Award winner!
  3. European Commission: European Green Capital Award 2020 ‐ Technical Assessment Synopsis Report PDF
  4. Crowley, Duncan; Belchior, Constança; Hamilton, Marilyn: "Creating a Sustainable & Just Lisbon", chapter in "Urban Hub 20 - Accelerating City Change in a VUCA World", pages 184 – 192. Available at:
  5. Crowley, Duncan. "Is Lisbon a Sustainable and Just City? Perspectives from Europe´s 2020 Green Capital", Jun, 2020. Available at:
  6. Jessica Verheij & Mafalda Corrêa Nunes (2020) Justice and power relations in urban greening: can Lisbon’s urban greening strategies lead to more environmental justice?, Local Environment, DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2020.1801616 Available at:
  7. Ara.Cat: Lisboa, la nova capital de la gentrificació i els desallotjaments (Lisbon, the new capital of gentrification and evictions)
  8. Luis Mendes (2020) Anti-Displacement Social Movements in Lisbon: A Perspective from the Trenches in the Fight Against Transnational Gentrification. Chapter in "Gentrification around the World, Volume II". DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-41341-5_6 Available at:
  9. Crowley, Duncan. "Lisbon, a changing city", Jun 2, 2020. Available at:
  10. Sofia Cristino (2019) "Descampados junto à biblioteca de Marvila vão ter jardim e pavilhão em vez de prédios de renda acessível". Published in "O Corvo", March, 2019. Available at:
  11. Renata Lima (2020) "Há mais um parque verde a caminho de Marvila". Published in Time Out, November 2020. Available at: