The idea

An ongoing process of upgrading the oldest part of the city, seeking to relocate residents within the same neighborhood but in upgraded homes. The rooms on offer previously inside some of the buildings were all in degradation, lacking proper oversight, and with years of inadequate living space. These living conditions raised some concerns on the part of families to be relocated.

Parallel was noted the need to create balance within the neighborhood itself, giving attention to all its residents, especially the newer areas, and their concerns with general insecurity and fear of marginalisation, working essentially to achieve a sense of belonging and appropriation of living space as well respect and care for the shared space.

Given the location of Padre Cruz Subdivision - at one end of the city of Lisbon and away from the rest of the parish - there was a need to promote actions to combat the idea of ​​a neighborhood 'ghetto'. The Parish of Carnide, however, has an advantage: the permanent intervention of various cultural groups, sports and community sites. This allowed them to depart into the idea of ​​a project sponsorship by these groups and entities of housing lots. Sponsoring these lots, the Parish would be responsible for liaising between the residents and the Parish Council Gebalis in promoting actions to improve the common living spaces, including exterior painting, repairs and maintenance.

The context

Situated in the Parish of Carnide, an old and expansive countryside, Padre Cruz is the largest municipal borough of the Iberian Peninsula with about 9,000 inhabitants. The neighborhood was developed in several phases over several decades, with its beginnings in 1960 with the construction of 200 apartments for the relocation of families living in other areas of the city that needed upgrading.

This first phase was already in the construction of schools, chapels, cultural and sports centres, ballroom and a market. By the end of this decade, over 917 facilities were built, consisting of two floors and terraces. They were, however, similar to the first buildings in terms of housing quality, i.e. very basic and poor. In 1975 the neighborhood grew to over 280 family dwellings for rehousing composed of four floor buildings, but it was mainly in 1990 that a new phase gave way in the evolution of the urban district of Padre Cruz: several housing lots were built, aimed at resettling the hundreds of inhabitants of the area's oldest neighborhood - the building of the first - and others from other critical areas of Lisbon and the city plans reclassified existing degradation. Between 1991 and 1997, around 1000 dwellings were developed for resettlement, along with some commercial spaces required for a dynamic neighborhood. Currently under maintenance, Gebalis (Management of Municipal Districts of Lisbon), Padre Cruz has many municipal housing lots, 80 of which were included in editions of the program BIP / ZIP.

By involving successive relocations of people from many different places and also from Lisbon, the Padre Cruz residents failed to adapt. Without any processes of identification and belonging, the neighborhood suffered an inevitable deterioration of the buildings. Alongside this there developed a climate of general insecurity.

Awoken to the issues of the districts of Lisbon, the parish councils and various social organisations, in conjunction with specific programmes of the City of Lisbon, wants to improve conditions and redevelop urban spaces that have suffered over the years from badly planned relocations of people. The parish of Carnide, which offers some beautiful old parts, has at the same time some neighborhoods that have fallen into neglect and are not suitable for relocating families. The new designs for relocation include better accommodation for families, assisted living and creating spaces for social assistance.


  • The project Padre Cruz Com Padrinhos want to promote citizenship housing through the sponsorship of an institution in these lots, to promote and articulate strategies and activities of mutual agreement and with the aim to rehabilitate public spaces and common residents making them more enjoyable.
  • Intends to develop both practical, good community, mutual organisation, strengthening ties of belonging and identity, contributing to a positive image of the neighborhood and promoting development and dynamics that are more desirable, more community-oriented, caring and responsible.
  • On the other hand, with the involvement of cultural partners and several others, the project wants to promote initiatives and leisure activities for the youngest, while still constituting a space for the promotion of citizenship and culture that unite the two areas of the district.

How it works

In the first phase, which took place in 2011, the entities contacted and sponsored 40 of 80 housing lots of Bairro Padre Cruz. Initially it was intended to reach an agreement with the residents in relation to painting these lots and the co-responsibility in relation to this task. The plan benefited from the financial support of the BIP / ZIP, Neighborhoods and Areas for Priority Intervention, a programme created by the Lisbon City Council that is committed to the initiative and energy of residents to reform the space in which they live, making them part of a real collective and community. Although a large part of the costs are granted, the fact that residents should also be liable to pay a small part is important, since it would lead them to take care of and maintain all the improvements made. The sponsors had the task of organising regular consultation meetings with residents, to mediate the decisions to be taken: signaling problems to be solved, to find solutions, dates of interventions, shared forms of assistance, forms of payment costs, etc. Alongside they were also responsible for carrying out cultural activities, which would encourage people to get to know their neighbours and other residents of the neighbourhood, as well learn to relate to one another. Residents were invited to participate in these activities, both as spectators and/or participants. These actions led to a greater awareness of social problems and the coming together of people, which led to actions of solidarity and mutual aid being triggered immediately.


In 2011 the partner institutions / sponsors signed, along with the Parish of Carnide, a cooperation protocol until 2014, which provides regular activities in the neighborhood Padre Cruz and, in particular, at the Cultural Centre of Carnide. Each of the selected entities manages between 3-12 lots, according to the possibilities of each one, and from that moment become facilitators of the organisation, developing a set of cultural and recreational activities. Partial funding from BIP / ZIP will allow for some of the initiatives.

1. FAMILIARTE, Community Theatre, NAVEL, Theatre Company Community involvement through various drama activities to engage the different generations of residents and several families retelling stories and myths in local shows. 2. CULTURAL ASSOCIATION BRAZIL CAPOEIRA GINGA; Batuke Conducting weekly classes 'capoeira' - use of Brazilian percussion instruments for the residents, with the intention of developing a tolerance for cultural diversity. 3. GTO LX Group Theatre of the Oppressed Lisbon Creating space and time for reflection, debate and exploration of strategies for action. Making of a presentation on how the residents can improve their neighborhood. 4. RADICAL ASSOCIATION AZIMUTH Promoting extreme sports festivals for children and youth; conducting a review with the intervention of actors and residents. 5. NAVEL, Theatre Company Realisation of plays for all residents. 6. MOON, Theatre for all Gatherings organised on full moon nights as well as puppet theatres for children and local residents. 7. RECREATIONAL GROUP SCORPIONS Performing several plays for the residents. 8. ASSOCIATION TENT Conducting courses in circus arts for children and young people of the neighbourhood that resulted in public performances in the district. 9. ASSOCIATION OF PARENTS group of schools in the neighborhood Implementing community gardens projects in schools, involving students but also their families and neighbours in possession of gardens in certain areas of the neighborhood, which ensure its implementation and maintenance.

Second phase of the project

With the success of the project sponsership lots, partners were asked to extend their contribution to the remaining 40 lots of Padre Cruz, and to have a working recovery and redevelopment of these lots, similar to what happened in 2011, making sure to develop sporting and cultural activities between the first rehousing project and the new one. The organising of the painting of the first 40 lots and the relationship created since then with its residents brought the action to a new level, as well as allowed for continued improvement of the common areas and public patronage and a sense of co-responsibility among residents.


The project was started upon the initiative of the Parish of Carnide and partners involved, the programme BIP / ZIP, promoted by the Municipality of Lisbon, and initiatives aimed at helping citizens in upgrading and improving their areas residence, in their communities, considered Neighborhoods or Priority Intervention Zones. This resulted in approved funding for painting works and improvements in the community as well as the realisation of cultural, sporting and community activities by partners / sponsors. Locals also contributed with a financial amount of about 5 euros / housing. Many helped in the painting and technical arrangements required for the rehabilitation of public spaces, in accordance with their qualifications or wants.