Status: Competition (2015)
Location: Azenhas do Mar, Portugal
Coordinates: 38.8393743, -9.4628314
Climate: Mediterranean, Temperate
Types: Masterplan, Public space
The present project has its origins in Azenha do Mar, a small fishing village located in a remote area on the south-west coast of Portugal. This village, as so many others, embodies its own specificity and essence in the way that relates to the multiple layers where is based. The existing confront between the land and the sea and its associated activities (fishing and agriculture) that generated this place through time; the prosaic habits and dynamics that structure the everyday life of its population and even the presence of a feeling of distance to what is around or a state of dependence on basic structures, which are not there yet. These are just some specific layers which co-exists in Azenha do Mar, among so many others which are still invisible, waiting to be decoded.
Resonance(s) as chance – Catalyst Strategy
Based on a profound analysis around the interferences that made an impact on Azenha do Mar’s processes over time, it was discovered resonances that are still visible nowadays: loss of population; precariousness in the public space; vacant lots; lack of basic services and equipments; fishing as a fragile activity; new activities generated by local social associations…
Therefore, we see the existing resonances present nowadays in Azenha do Mar, as chances for change. In fact, we see these resonances as potential catalysts, capable of resonate something in an uncertain and unknown future.
Following this specific way of thinking, our aim is not to impose a deterministic program, disconnected from the real issues (resonances) and the existing specificities in Azenha do Mar. We seek to create a realistic matrix of processes which will eventually catalyze new dynamics and activities in an unpredictable future. For that, we propose the creation of a STRUCTURE OF RESONANCES: a structure that is a complex process which aims to answer to real problems in an economic sustainable way. A structure that is a methodology that crosses several times, scales and agents in a process of engagement with the place and its population. A structure that invites flexible and many possible scenarios.
Structure of resonances – A Flexible Methodology
The creation of a Structure of Resonances over Azenha do Mar, has a very ambitious goal. A goal of resonate a brighter future for this place. We believe, that in order to construct this future, the present project is just a starting point of a very complex process which includes not only us as architects, but also several important agents, such as: the existing population, investors, Odemira Municipality, local social associations, the surrounding villages…just to mention some. Therefore, is relevant to understand that the structure of resonance that is created can´t survive by itself. This structure can only resonate or generate new things if there will be interferences over it, such as social engagement by the existing population in Azenha do Mar and investment by public or private investors.
Therefore, it is presented 3 possible future scenarios or possible storytellings, according to two different types of interferences made over the structure of resonances: a social engagement interference (made by discussion/workshops/social happenings between Azenha do Mar population and local agents) and an investment interference (made by public or private investors).
What if … existing activities boost and new ones are created?
It is proposed the creation of a participation project in which it would be raised the following question: How can we catalyze sustainable activities over the platforms of activity (vacant lots) in the structure of resonances? From this question, population and local agents, conclude that is sustainable to use these platforms as agriculture soil, resulting in the creation of a local association (Cabaz da Terra) that would support this idea.
On a first phase it could be made a low investment through local public investors. However, if this activity would be a success, on a second phase, this project could applied to national and European funds, in order to construct a solid and profitable agriculture project to all the community of Azenha do Mar.
What if … tourism becomes the main activity?
It is proposed the creation of a participation project in which it would be raised the following question: How can we enhance Azenha do Mar through existing structures and resources, such as its landscape or its biodiversity? From this question, population and local agents, conclude that generating tourism as a primary activity in this village, could bring new profits for its population, through the use of local accommodation as season rent.
On a first phase, Azenha do Mar ́s inhabitants who would be interested in rent rooms in their houses, could possible do a small investment on a room, in order to receive possible tourists (in a airbnb type method). Then, if this business would be a success, on a second phase people could construct an appendix to their houses for receiving even more tourists.
Through the creation of these two interferences, it would be possible to use the created Social Structure with hubs and stores related to possible touristic activities, such as diving or walks through the natural park. Moreover, in a long time scale, if the tourism would become the main activity of Azenha do Mar, it could be created an health care centre, in order to attract tourists and to create profits through all the year.
What if … there is no interference over the structure of resonance/nothing changes?
This is a scenario, which explores the possible consequences to Azenha do Mar, if there is no development in terms of social engagement, sense of belonging and investment. It was created a structure of resonances, that complies with what we believe as important requirements for this place. However, if there is no participation or investment, the structure will certainly change/improve smaller problems, but it won ́t change/improve the bigger picture in Azenha do Mar.
Facing this, what could possibly happen to this place? Perhaps in a long time scale, this community would decrease, because there wouldn ́t exist profitable activities or even attractive opportunities, since the economy of the village is nowadays dependent on a fragile fishing activity and on a local restaurant.
However, we also believe that the structure created has the potential to cross different times and to adapt to changes and to invite new uses, since it was constructed as an open mechanism that will face unknown futures.
To sum up, it is concluded that Azenha do Mar is on a turning point, a point that asks for Chan(c)ges. Chance for a project that is more focused on how to integrate a process that crosses and engages specific agents, scales and constraints of the place. Change for better and meaningful resonances for a still hybrid future.