City: Prodac, Marvila, Lisbon, Portugal
The Street Games project ("Jogos de Rua"), developed in Lisbon's Prodac neighbourhood, highlights the importance of urban space, large or small, as a source of unity among diverse cultures, social classes and generations.
Photos courtesy of Jogos de Rua
Lisbon is a bright, sunshine city composed of large avenues and hills where different neighborhoods live in close proximity with their narrow streets, stairways and small squares. With a favourable climate that is relatively mild, the street is an open space full of life. The city has about 140 playgrounds and countless squares where families bring children to play and enjoy the city, experiencing fun and games. Most of these “child-friendly” spaces have a uniform character, and thus have become limited in the range of activities they propose, i.e. in their form, colour, scale, etc. The vast majority of playgrounds are large areas, with little shade, and which are often close by to busy roads. Within the residential neighborhoods nevertheless, such meeting spaces have become fundamental to community life.
Street Games arises from the idea to reinvent the experience of urban spaces, stressing the importance of every corner, alleyway of Lisbon’s neighborhoods, removing the institutional nature of some playgrounds and bringing new games to the street. Highlighting urban space as a source of unity among many cultures, social classes and age groups; creating networks of community intervention; profiting from promoters and facilitators of existing urban spaces demonstrating the vast range of fun activities.
Primarily intended as a stimulus for creativity, imagination, social interaction and personal development of the child; to see how to connect the city to nature, to the home and school, essentially exploring the unknown in a secure environment.
To promote the importance of these underutilised corners of cities, Games Street is a model designed and built with children, adults and the elderly in the Prodac neighborhood of Lisbon, which takes advantage of gardens and green spaces in their physical and more natural context.
The Project & its Urban Context
Thinking about the various existing urban spaces and people of the same neighborhood, the project created a Street Games Mobile Playground with varying spaces / equipment to play with and that would provide hours of entertainment for everyone. To create this Mobile Playground, Atelier Urban Nomads, the project promoter of Street Games, developed workshops in schools and institutions invited to participate in this project. The workshops are a meeting space for people of various age groups that facilitate the process of revival and redesign around a common space.
The Street Games project was promoted in the Prodac neighbourhood in Marvila, Lisbon. PRODAC (Association of Productivity of Self Construction) was a formerly a private institution of social solidarity, terminated in 1983, to which the City of Lisbon, in the 70s, provided a temporary basis and site for the construction of houses to relocate inhabitants of the area “Quinta das Claras” and Chinatown. In these neighborhoods, which were without sanitation, there had been housed people from the “Beiras” (rural communities and the countryside), who had come to Lisbon years before looking for better living conditions and job opportunities. On the ground, located in the “Vale Fundão em Chelas”, Lisbon, the neighbourhood of Prodac was built with more than 580 homes. At the time, the Association took out a loan for the construction of these residences, with the majority of the workforce being the residents themselves, depending on their expertise. In 1990, after the termination of the Association, the Lisbon city council assumed management of the neighborhood.
The neighborhood Prodac, placed in an urban context with specific interventions, posed the ideal space for the intended project. Here resides groups of former workers of the industries that once existed in Marvila and Beato. Alongside this almost rural, quiet setting are neighbourhoods experiencing poverty, low housing conditions, with recognised problems of crime, drug abuse and vandalism, and social stigma. The promotion of creative recreational activities among a community can be a huge investment for younger generations.
The project aims to hold a parade with the installation of a Mobile Playground, different model spaces and recreational equipment. The construction of these spaces is the result of workshops and Feast Days promoted by Atelier Urban Nomads with the local community, bringing together people of various age groups throughout the process.
The existing sports space was also redesigned after meetings where all were involved, so as to make it more inviting in terms of its sporting activities, as was its original purpose. This new facility, transformed by the ideas of all involved, ensures a daily dynamics for the residents in charge of its maintenance and preservation. As always, it is intended that the various generations are involved.
With its mild climate, the streets offer an open air space within which to play, and offers a secure environment but that is located in the middle of a big city. All traditional games are developed in a creative and unique way, and every project is implemented by the inhabitants.
Organisation and Operation
The different steps of the Games Street programme were presented during meetings with children, in workshops and on Feast Days (meetings with the local community); from here, concrete ideas could materialise. The project appealed to the idea of different games, sporting activities, etc., from generation to generation, which could be reinvented to occupy the street, the space that belongs to everyone.
We tried then to organise a bank to collect materials needed to build the various parts, by compiling a list of what was needed and could be donated and delivered to the Centre for Social Promotion in Prodac. The list included a bit of everything: fruit, dishes, cookware, coffee, tea, rice and beans, cardboard boxes, wood, doors, windows, tables of all sizes, cabinets and tiles, books, games, brooms, shovels or other tools, clothing, hats, tissues, pens, papers, stamps, adhesives and fishing wire, and much more.
From desires and memories, images and designs were created that served as a display presentation to the community; from here the models were drawn up. All the children were involved.
Then, in a large space provided and to where the materials were being delivered, people gathered to build all-size models according to the imagination. Gradually, the modules began to take shape and become real life objects, so real that they deserved to be paraded through the streets.
Throughout all these steps, the community was invited to attend and participate, to get involved and take ownership of the project, contributing ideas and using their capabilities and skills to implement and reach the same goal together.
Promoters and Financing
Atelier Urban Nomads An application was made to BIP-ZIP, a grant programme of the Lisbon Municipality to promote actions and good practices in social neighborhoods and areas of priority intervention in Lisbon. The Street Games project won the bid in 2012. The amount of funding allowed the monitoring and guidance of actions, execution of promotional materials and payment of services rendered by residents in the implementation of the various models of the Mobile Playground. The materials needed were donated by the community and local institutions, all of which were “useless” objects, scraps of wood and an abundance of items that could be reused and recycled without any charge.
- Lisbon City Hall
- Centre for the Promotion of Social PRODAC, Holy House of Mercy
- Youth Group, PRODAC
- Group of Schools Marvila
Contact / Links
Atelier Urban Nomads Luisa Alpalhao www.atelierurbannomads.org+351 91 86 940 94 +44 (0) 77 9945 5246
Program BIP / ZIP Lisbon City Hall bip.zip @ cm-lisboa.pt http://habitacao.cm-lisboa.pt+351 21 831 09 50
Youth Group, PRODAC geoprodac à gmail.com